Memoirs of a Highland Lady: Lovat, the Chief of the Clan Fraser

Lovat, the Chief of the Clan Fraser

Archibald Campbell Fraser

The peerage had been forfeited by the wicked lord in the last rebellion, the lands and the Chieftainship had been left with a cousin, the rightful heir, who had sprung from the common stock before the attainder. He was an old man, and his quiet, comfortable wife was an old woman. They had been at Cluny, the Lady of the Macpherson Chieftain being their niece, or the laird their nephew, I don’t exactly know which; and their servants told ours they had had a hard matter to get their master away, for he was subject to strange whims, and he had taken it into his head when he was there that he was a Turkey hen, and so he had made a nest of straw in his carriage and filled it with eggs and a large stone, and there he sat hatching, never leaving his station save twice a day like other fowl, and having his supplies of food brought to him. They had at last to get the Lady Cluny’s henwife to watch a proper moment to throw out all these eggs and to put some young chickens in their place, when Lovat, satisfied he had accomplished his task, went about clucking and strutting with wonderful pride in the midst of them, running about to collect his flock, flapping the tails of his coat as the hens do their wings in like circumstances. He was quite sane in conversation generally, rather an agreeable man I heard them say, and would be as steady as other people for a certain length of time; but every now and then he took these strange fancies, when his wife had much ado to bring him out of them.

Memoirs of a Highland Lady

‘I was born on the 7th May 1797 of a Sunday evening at No. 5 N. side of Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, in my father’s own lately built house and I am the eldest of five children he and my mother raised to maturity.’ Thus opens one of the most famous set of memoirs ever written. Since its first bowdlerised edition in 1898, they have been consistently in print. This is the first ever complete text. Written between 1845 and 1854 the memoirs were originally intended simply for Elizabeth’s family, but these vivid and inimitable records of life in the early 19th century, and above all on the great Rothiemurchus estate, full of sharp observation and wit, form an unforgettable picture of her time. The story ends with the thirty-three-year-old Elizabeth finding her own future happiness in marriage to an Irish landowner, Colonel Smith of Baltiboys. ‘A masterpiece of historical and personal recall.’ Scotsman


Memoirs of a Highland Lady

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