The Story behind the Stone – the families, estates and stories of Kirkmichael, Cullicudden, the Black Isle and beyond

The Upperwood Headstone, and the Eviction of the Frasers of Upperwood

text by Dr Jim Mackay; photography as annotated


Erected by THOMAS FRASER late farmer Upperwood in memory of his mother, MARGARET BAIN, who died at Upperwood Sept. 2nd 1869 aged 75 years.
And of his son WILLIAM FRASER who died at Upperwood Sept. 22nd 1882 aged 20 years.
And of his brother WILLIAM FRASER mason who died at Upperwod June 23rd 1892 aged 72 years.
And of his niece ANNIE FRASER beloved wife of WILLIAM GEORGE WHITE coast guard who died at Upperwood Dec 14th 1897 aged 24 years.

∗ • ∗

There is a note of sadness, or even bitterness, in the very first statement on the gravestone inscription commemorating the Frasers of Upperwood. It starts “Erected by Thomas Fraser late farmer Upperwood”. For Thomas, along with his brother Simon, had been evicted from Upperwood by the laird of Poyntzfield amidst a national outcry about how badly treated they had been.

That first statement also gives the period within which the stone was erected, as the brothers were evicted over the period 1888/1889 and Thomas died in 1914. Some inscriptions are added to as time goes by. But I think this whole inscription would have been carved in one operation.

Every person commemorated on this stone actually died at Upperwood, and the deaths of no other relatives are included. So you will see the mother of Thomas commemorated, but not his father, who died long before the family came to Upperwood. You’ll see his brother William commemorated, who had a separate croft at Upperwood and was not evicted, but not his brother Simon who had moved away to Rosemarkie. It is therefore very much an Upperwood stone.

The headstone itself had lain buried in the turf for many years, as it had broken off at its base. The Kirkmichael Trust uncovered it from the turf and had Hood’s, monumental masons of Dingwall, re-erect it and repair the base. It is the aim of the Trust to repair every fallen headstone in the kirkyard; at time of writing there are only two left to go.

photo by Jim Mackay

photo by Andrew Dowsett

So what was the tale of the eviction of the Fraser families from Upperwood? Well, we shall return to it, but for now have a look at the story as set out in the Scottish Highlander and copied in many other newspapers.

Scottish Highlander 17 January 1889
Feeling in the Black Isle, where there is a large number of crofters, is at present running very high on account of two tenants having got notice to quit under very hard circumstances. On Saturday a demonstration was held at Jamimaville to protest against the eviction of Simon and Thomas Fraser from Upperwood farm, on the estate of Poyntzfield, owned by Mr G.G. Munro. There was a large gathering of people from considerable distances, who evinced a warm interest in the case, and in the speeches which were delivered, the action of the landlord was characterised as the most cruel and unjust as had yet occurred in that part of the country. Mr Maclennan, Resolis, presided, and in the course of a warm speech, which elicited much applause, he said that Messrs Simon and Thomas Fraser had twenty-three years ago taken the farm of Upperwood on a nineteen years’ lease, the terms agreed on being 4s 6d an acre for the first seven years, 9s an acre for the next seven years, and 13s 6d an acre for the remaining five years. The total annual rent at the expiry of the lease was £32, and the tenants were not a halfpenny in arrears.
At the end of the lease they endeavoured to obtain a reduction from the landlord, but all their advances were repelled, and being unable longer to pay the full rent they got six months’ notice to quit, having fallen into arrears during the last four years.
The peculiar hardship of the case lies in the facts that the piece of ground occupied by Messrs Fraser was a waste strip of the famous Mulbuie Common when they entered; and that they reclaimed 37½ acres of land, and erected a dwelling house and farm steading all at their own expense. The farm was valued on behalf of the tenants by two competent men, who declare that while the rent paid by the Frasers for the worthless piece of ground amounted in all to £527, the improvements by them have in addition amounted to £576 - 2s within the same period. In conclusion, Mr Maclennan, in comparing the land laws of Ireland with those of Scotland, said that if the poor Frasers could enjoy the blessings of fair rent, fixity of tenure, or compensation for improvements, which obtained in Ireland, they would be as happy as princes.
Resolutions requesting the landlord to consider his eviction decree in the case of the Frasers; urging upon the Government the necessity of admitting leaseholders to the benefits of the Crofters Act; and strongly recommending that Cromarty Parish be declared a crofting parish under the Crofters Act were carried unanimously.


Coming to Upperwood

The family were from Inverness-shire originally, with parents Hugh Fraser and Margaret Bain marrying in Kiltarlity in 1815:

Parish of Kiltarlity Marriage Register
Hugh Fraser in Boblanie and Margaret Bayne in Hugh Town were married by the Revd. Dr. R. Bayne 1st. December 1815

Hugh at this time was an agricultural labourer. Their children included Alexander (Kiltarlity, 1821), Simon (1823, Kiltarlity), John (1826, Kiltarlity), Thomas (1828, Kiltarlity), James (1834, Inverness) and Jane (1838, Inverness). There was also William, who must have been born about 1818, and in later census returns he usually said he was born in the parish of Kirkhill rather than Kiltarlity (but, then, several others of the children did as well, when there is documentary evidence they were born in Kiltarlity).

The family moved to Ardeville in the parish of Cromarty, not far from the boundary of the united parish of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden, commonly called Resolis. And on the Resolis side of that border, of course, is Upperwood. But that lay ahead of them.

Jane was born in Inverness in 1838, so that places them still in the town in that year. But Margaret and the two youngest children were in Ardeville in 1841, so they had re-located in that short period. Father Hugh must have died before then, and the older children were away making their own living already!

1841 Census Return Parish of Cromarty – Ardevale
Margaret Fraser agricultural labourer 50
James Fraser 6
Jane Fraser 3

The sparse information collected in the 1841 Census, with its illogical rounding of the ages of adults, is of little assistance to us. But by 1851, several more of the relatives can be seen at Ardeville and the Return provides much data on where everybody has been. I include a neighbour, William Bain, at Ardeville, because I doubt if it is coincidence that a Bain born in Kiltarlity should be farming close to Margaret Fraser ms Bain, who was also born in Kiltarlity. I presume they were related, and as Bain was in the area long in advance of the Frasers (he married there in 1830 “William Bayne sawyer at Udall & Mary Stewart at Ardevale were married”), it was probably his presence that triggered the Fraser family’s relocation to Ardeville.

Looking across the fields of Udale to highlighted Ardeville; photo by D. Ron Schott

1851 Census Return Parish of Cromarty – Ardivale
Willm Bain head age 60 farmer 50 acres & 2 labourers born Kiltarlity
Mary Steward [Stewart] wife age 50 farmer’s wife born Cromarty
William Fiddler servant unmarried age 11 farm labourer born Cromarty
James Shanks servant unmarried age 19 farm servant born Elgin, Moray

Willm. Fraser head age 31 sawyer born Kirkhill
Mary do. wife age 19 sawyer’s wife born P.E.I. America
Ann Cumming visitor unmarried 18 wife’s sister Woolwich Kent

William was the elder brother of Simon and Thomas, and had married soldier’s daughter Mary Cumming in 1849, in Rosemarkie. You see her sister Ann in residence with them at Ardeville above.

Parish of Rosemarkie Marriages
William Fraser, farm-servant, Parish of Cromarty, and Mary Cumming, at Rosemarkie, were married after regular proclamations on the fifth day of October, One thousand, eight hundred and forty nine years.

By 1861, more of the family had arrived at Ardeville including Simon and Thomas who would go on to reclaim and farm the land at Upperwood, from which they would later be evicted. I think all the Kirkhill birthplaces in reality should read Kiltarlity.

1861 Census Return Parish of Cromarty – Ardivell, house with 2 rooms with 1 or more windows
William Fraser head married age 41 farmer, 50 acres emply. 3 men born Kirkhill
Mary do. wife married age 29 farmer’s wife born Prince Edward’s Island
Margaret do. daur 10 scholar born Cromarty
May do. daur 11 mo. born Cromarty
Mary Collie niece age 9 scholar born Banff, Banff
Eliza M. Sims niece age 7 born Campbelton, Nairn
[next household – 2 rooms with one or more windows]
Margaret Bain head widow 76 farmers widow born Kirkhill
Simon Fraser son unm 33 ploughman born Kirkhill
Thomas do. son unm 31 ploughman born Kirkhill
Jane Fraser daur unm 21 dom. serv. born Inverness
Jane Bain sister wid 73 widow of ag. lab. born Kirkhill


Ardeville to Upperwood

Ardeville is on the far right, and Upperwood on the far left. Upperwood Croft, which would be later constructed by third brother William, would be just to the left of the blue line that marks the division between the parish of Cromarty and Resolis. The un-named group of crofts between Ardeville and Upperwood is Colony. I have underlined the prehistoric Cairn referred to later.

Now, from the newspaper reports at the time of the eviction of Simon and Thomas, they had taken up the initial lease of the land of Upperwood 21 years before 1888, which would make it about 1867. To be fair, the brothers must have known what they were getting into as they had been residing for quite a number of years a short distance away in Ardeville, with only the small group of crofts at Colony in between. Upperwood was at the top end of the Poyntzfield Estate and the area taken by Simon and Thomas was at the time moor ground. Let’s look at the account when they first appeared in front of the Commissioners who were investigating the situation regarding crofters’ rents and rights at the time. The background is set out in our Story of the Highland Land Reformers here. In that Story, Resolis farmer John Maclennan and Dingwall solicitor John Macrae, both heroes of Scottish land reform, are featured and they also appear in this Story. I have emboldened the most shocking information, but the whole is of interest.

Ross-shire Journal 2 March 1888
Poyntzfield Estate – A Hard Case
On Monday the Commissioners heard evidence from the estates of Poyntzfield, Findon, and Newhall, in the Black Isle.
The first case, which was one of more than ordinary interest, was from the estate of Poyntzfield, the property of Mr G.M.G. Munro. Mr William Anderson, Inverness, appeared for the proprietor, and Mr Macrae Dingwall, for the crofters.
The application of Simon Fraser was objected to by Mr Anderson, who explained that there had been a lease which expired at Whitsumday 1884, and since then the tenant held the place by tacit negotiation. The rent under the lease had been £32, and no reduction had been granted. The objection, therefore, was that the rent was over £30. Mr Macrae, said that when the lease was expired the tenant told the factor that the rent was excessive, and they could only pay £22. The factor admitted that the rent was excessive, but did not precisely say what the new rent was to be. They had insisted on paying only £22, and they got receipts for that; but it was only as payments to account, and the arrears had been carried on. The Chairman examined the expired lease, which was for 21 years, at £11 for seven years, £21 for seven years, and £32 for the last seven years. The Chairman (to witness) – When you entered 21 years ago had you to pay £11 for waste? – A. Yes. Q. Did you get a dwelling-house? – No; I got nothing but a barren waste. Q. Did you pay the first year’s rent? A. Yes; we had money of our own at that time. Q. This is the first case of the kind I have seen. Did you get any advance from the landlord to enable you to cultivate this waste? – A. Not a penny. Q. And you have reclaimed 37 acres of land? – A. Yes, at a cost of £5 an acre, and built a dwelling-house and steading at cost of £200. In further examination by the Chairman, the witness said that when he asked a reduction the factor told him to take in more land, and it would pay him well enough. He did not recollect any agreement with the factor that the rent was to be £22. Mr Macrae – It is clear to every one from an equitable standpoint that this applicant’s position is unassailable. Your Lordship and Honours are in the way of considering all those causes more from an equitable standpoint than a strictly legal one. I think I am entitled to say that this is a confiscation of the tenant’s improvements. I think it is a glaring instance of legalised robbery, and I wonder that the proprietor, or anyone representing him would have the hardihood to appear here and oppose this man’s case, even although they had the legal right to do so. This man entered entirely waste land, which he reclaimed, and erected a house, without any assistance from the proprietor. By the lease there is no compensation given at all. The rent had been paid all along as well as they could, and the matter left very much in the hands of the factor. They were poor, ignorant, and illiterate men, who were accustomed to pay too much deference to landlords and factors. Having read the lease carefully, and finding no clause for compensation, the Chairman said – we must look into this case. It is a very peculiar one. In the meantime we will content ourselves with saying that it is a case of very great hardship, and think it is for the estate management to consider whether it is not a case to be dealt with by the Commissioners.

So, the hard facts then are that about 1867 the brothers entered into a lease to take in wasteland, and as they improved the land, so their rent increased, and when they could no longer pay the rent, they were evicted, without any compensation for the house and farm buildings they had erected. It is no wonder that Thomas was bitter.

To add to the challenges facing the family, mother Margaret died in 1869.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
Margaret Fraser widow of Hugh Fraser farmer died 2 September 1869 Upper Wood Farm Poyntzfield age 75 parents William Bain farmer (d) Ann Bain ms [blank] (d) informant Simon Fraser son (present)

You always feel some dismay when you come across a certificate where the son did not remember his maternal grandmother’s maiden name. However, if you are lucky, you may know of an aunt or uncle and you can hope that their death certificates in due course would be completed more fully and that grandmother’s name might yet emerge. And in this case, in 1871, we do find an aunt resident at Upperwood. So let us look at that situation in Upperwood, to which the family had moved only a few years before.

1871 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Upper Wood Farm, house with 2 rooms with one or more windows
Simon Fraser head u age 40 farmer of 30 ac of which 25 arable born Kirkhill
Thomas Fraser brother u age 35 farmer Kirkhill
Jane A. Fraser sister u age 30 Inverness
Jane Fraser aunt w age 75 farm overseer’s widow born Kiltarlity
William Fraser nephew 9 Cromarty
Lewis Smith nephew age 4 born Cromarty

Already, then, the brothers had converted 25 acres into arable farming. Their aunt, Jane Fraser was residing with them – she was born Jane Bain, and had married agricultural labourer Hugh Fraser in 1836. The two nephews were the result of indiscretions, William of unmarried brother Thomas, and Lewis of unmarried sister Jane.

Meanwhile, brother William, who had been farming up at Ardeville, had moved down to Jemimaville and had become a mason to trade.

1871 Census Return Parish of Resolis – 27 Front Street Jemimaville, house with two rooms with one or more windows
William Fraserr head married age 52 mason born Kirkhill
Mary Fraser wife age 37 born Pr. Edward’s Island
Margaret Fraser daur u age 19 born Cromarty
Mary Fraser daur age 10 scholar born Cromarty
Jane Fraser daur age 6 scholar born Cromarty
Anne Cummin[g] sister-in-law u age 28 soldier’s daur born England

William himself would take in a croft at Upperwood in due course.

The Ordnance Survey were active in the area at the time, and surveyed the area in, 1871/1872, compiling while they were at it the incredibly useful Name Book. There are two entries of interest, the first being the croft at Upperwood, and the second the description of a large prehistoric burial cairn, the remains of which lie close to the steading. Simon is given as one of the authorities on the name, and presumably the history, of the Cairn.

Upperwood (variant spelling Upper Wood associated with Valuation Roll for 1868 & 69)
Authorities for spelling: Dr MacKay / Mr James Cooper / Mr MacPherson / Valuation Roll for 1868 & 69.
This name applies to a small one storey thatched Farmhouse with one small office house, they are in middling repair. Proprietor The Trustees of the late Captain Munro Poyntzfield.

Cairn (Remains of)
Authorities for spelling: Dr MacKay Factor Cromarty / Mr James Cooper F.C. Schoolmaster Jamimaville / Mr S Fraser Upperwood
This name applies to the remains of a large Cairn of Stones. It was about thirty feet in diameter and fifteen feet high about the year 1825: but has since been removed for farm purposes all but a few loose stones lying on the surface of the ground. It is supposed there was a fierce battle fought near this spot and that the cairn was erected to mark the Burial place of one of the slain chieftains, but who the contending Parties were or at what date it occurred cannot be ascertained

Now, it may be that much of the cairn was used for such purposes as construction of dykes in the area. Bu I have to say I wonder if a lot of the stones from the cairn had in fact been taken by Simon and Thomas to build the house and steading close by at Upperwood. There would be no shortage of stones when the land was broken in, of course, but a ready supply of clean large stones standing to hand in those first years would have been irresistible. So I suspect that the buildings at Upperwood might in part be much older than one might think!

By 1881, brother William and family had moved from Jemimaville up to Upperwood to take on some land themselves, so there was quite a dynasty there. I note most of them were now correctly giving their parish of birth of Kiltarlity.

Upperwood Croft some years ago; with his experience as a mason, WIlliam would have had the experience to build his house to last; photo by Jim Mackay

1881 Census Return Parish of Resolis – no. 1 Upperwood, house with 2 rooms with one or more windows
William Fraser head m age 64 farmer (of 12 ac of which 6 are arable) born Inverness-shire Parkhill
Mary Fraser wife age 47 do. wife born America (British)
Margaret Fraser daur w 29 do. daur born Cromarty
Mary Fraser daur u age 21 do. daur born Cromarty
Jane Fraser daur u age 16 do. daur born Resolis
Ann Fraser daur age 7 scholar born Resolis

1881 Census Return Parish of Resolis – no. 2 Upperwood, house with 2 rooms with one or more windows
Simon Fraser head u age 52 farmer (of 80 ac of which 40 are arable) born Kiltarlity speaks G
Thomas Fraser brother u age 48 do. brother born Kiltarlity speaks G
Jane A. Fraser sister u age 46 do. sister born Kiltarlity G infirmities: imbecile
Jane Fraser aunt w age 86 do. aunt born Kiltarlity speaks G
William Fraser brother’s son u age 19 do. nephew born Resolis
Lewis Smith nephew (sister’s son) age 13 scholar born Resolis

Sadly, young William, who could have been expected to continue farming at Upperwood, was to die of typhoid the following year. He would be commemorated many years later when his father erected the headstone at Kirkmichael.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
William Fraser ploughman (single) illegitimate died 22 September 1882 at Upper Wood Farm Poyntzfield age20 parents Thomas Fraser farmer Ann Rennie domestic servant (d) informant Thomas Fraser father (present)

photo by Andrew Dowsett

Simon and Thomas were getting older and it must have been challenging holding the farm and household together. Their aunt, Jane Fraser ms Bain, applied for and obtained parochial relief. The parochial records are very skimpy and simply say:

Parish of Resolis Parochial Records
Jean Bain or Fraser [address] Upr. Wood Farm [age on admittance] 82 [date of minute when admitted] 26 February 1880 born Kirkhill widow house wife [reason for admittance] residence [notes] 1884 Dec 13 Removed by Death


The variable parents of Margaret Fraser ms Bain

Jane did not die at Upperwood. She had been admitted to the Black Isle Poor House at Rosemarkie and it was there that she departed this life. Now, you will remember that on her sister Margaret’s death, Simon had reported to the Registrar that his mother’s parents were “William Bain farmer Ann Bain ms [blank]” so this was the opportunity to find out what name can replace that blank. This will be interesting…

Parish of Rosemarkie Deaths
Jane Fraser pauper (widow of Hugh Fraser ploughman) died 13 December 1884 at the Black Isle Poorhouse, Rosemarkie age 86 parents Alexander Bain labourer (d) Lilly Bain ms [blank] (d) informant John Macdonald Governor of Poorhouse (present)

Okay, a completely different set of names appear! It would seem that those grandparents are going to be even harder to track down than initially thought. But there is one final hope. You may remember that back at Ardeville, where the Frasers originally settled on their move into the area, a neighbour was also a Bain from Kiltarlity. He had to be a relative, and if he had been a brother of Margaret and Jane, then perhaps those elusive parents could be traced via him. Out of interest, I tracked him, and he died at Ardeville in 1860. His death certificate gives:

Parish of Cromarty Deaths
Bain, William, farmer, married died 13 April 1860 at Ardivelle age 70 parents William Bain farmer (d) Margaret Bain ms unknown (d) buried Kirkmichael parish of Resolis certified William Holm sexton informant Simon Fraser nephew not present

Well, this does indeed confirm that he was Simon’s uncle, but this time not only did Simon not give his grandmother’s surname, but also he changed his grandmother’s Christian name! For those who wish to pursue the family origins, therefore the options are: William Bain and Ann, William Bain and Margaret or Alexander Bain and Lilly. And I at that point gave it up as a bad job.



To add to the woes of the family, they were not keeping up with their rent with the Poyntzfield Estate. Their initial lease expired at Whitsunday 1884, and they had not negotiated a new one in writing. It appears that they had argued with the factor that the lease of £32 was excessive (which clearly it was), the factor agreed but would not set a new one, and the tenants paid only £22 each year as that is what they felt it was worth and what they could afford. The factor, however, whilst happy to pocket the £22 nevertheless totted up the growing deficit which entitled the estate to evict their tenants. And this they proceeded to do in 1888. The fact that the tenants had built the farmhouse and farm steading effectively free for the Estate was not taken into account.

You will note that there is much reference to the factor in this case, and indeed the factor appears in many similar cases of the period. However, the factor was a smoke-screen. The estate owners hid behind their factors to avoid confronting the disagreeable truth that they were responsible for the destitution of families. Their concern was to get the rent, and there was always some other prospective tenant who would come in to try to make a living on the land for a number of years before they too would be evicted.

In this case, as was recognised by the court at the time, there was nothing legally that could be done to prevent the estate from evicting the Frasers from Upperwood. Morally, it was a disgrace, as was also recognised by the court and the public at the time. But the Estate had their way, and by the time of the next Census, Simon had descended to Jemimaville and Thomas had moved in with brother William at Upperwood Croft.

1891 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Jemimaville, 26 High St., house with 2 rooms with one or more windows
Simon Fraser head s age 61 ag. lab. born Kiltarlity speaks GE
Jane Ann Fraser sister s 51 general servant born Inverness speaks GE
Lewis S. Fraser nephew s age 23 ag. lab. born Cromarty speaks GE

The house on the main street in Jemimaville in which Simon resided was very close to the Old Free Church Manse; photo by Donald Fraser

Upperwood Croft in the early 19teens; Thomas moved in with his brother William’s family here

1891 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Upperwood, Crofter’s House, house with 3 rooms with one or more windows
William Fraser head married age 72 crofter Kirkhill speaks GE
Mary Fraser wife age 50 born America speaks GE
Margaret Fraser daur s age 31 housemaid Cromarty speaks GE
Thomas Fraser brother s age 54 farm servant Kirkhill speaks GE
William Fraser grandchild age 9 scholar born Resolis
David Stewart grandchild age 7 scholar born Lanarkshire Glasgow

The two grandchildren residing in the crofthouse at Upperwood at this time were both children of daughter Margaret, who was shortly to give birth to a third illegitimate child, the father in this case being John Sinclair, a tailor in Jemimaville. In 1892 Margaret was given a place in the Black Isle Poorhouse but she did later return to Upperwood.

Mary, the daughter of William Fraser and Mary Fraser ms Cumming in Upperwood Croft, had married farm servant Allan Mackenzie in Inverness back in 1884. This is hard to locate, as Mary gave her parents incorrectly as John Fraser and Mary Fraser ms Fraser. The Mackenzies were living in the parish of Petty in 1891 and the parish of Rosemarkie in 1901 as Allan moved from farm to farm in his employment. They had a large family. Allan gave conflicting parishes of birth in different census return, but there is one entry in their 1891 Census Return which particularly underlines why you should never rely on one document. Mother Mary must have been visiting her daughter and son-in-law at the time, and the enumerator clearly picked up incorrectly that she was a widow and had been born in Resolis. So not only was she recorded twice in the same census, but completely wrongly in one of them!

1891 Census Return Parish of Petty – Mains of Connage Farm Servant’s House
Allan McKenzie head married age 30 farm serv. born. Dores Inverness Shire
Mary McKenzie wife age 30 born Cromarty
Colin McKenzie son age 6 scholar born Daviot / Mary Jane McKenzie daughter age 6 born Daviot / Maggie McKenzie daughter age 4 born Daviot / William McKenzie son age 2 born Daviot / Allan McKenzie son age 1 born Petty
Thomas Fraser step son 9 scholar born Resolis
Mary Fraser mother-in-law widow age 54 crofter born Resolis

Note that the stepson present, Thomas, was an earlier child of Mary’s, born in 1881, his father one John Shaw of the Parish of Croy. Thomas would marry Isabella McLean from Colony, next door to Upperwood, in 1915. One of Isabella’s brothers was called Walter and the name of Walter … but as that is too closely approaching modern times I shall drop that line there.

Back in the Black Isle, William Fraser died in 1892, after a long battle with cancer. He was still residing in Upperwood Croft, the house and steading whereof he had built with his own hands. He was the first of the three Upperwood brothers to die.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
William Fraser crofter (married to Mary Cumming) died 23 June 1892 Upperwood Poyntzfield age 72 parents Hugh Fraser labourer (d) Margaret Fraser ms Bain (d) informant Jane Fraser daughter (present)

Simon moved to Rosemarkie where he became a builder. He was the second of the three Upperwood brothers to die, passing away in Rosemarkie at an advanced age:

Parish of Rosemarkie Deaths
Simon Fraser retired builder (single) died 19 April 1913 at Whinhill, Parish of Rosemarkie age 92 parents Hugh Fraser Customs Officer (d) Margaret Fraser ms Bain (d) informant David Fraser grand-nephew 212 Hope Street, Glasgow

You will note, by the way, that the occupation of their father, Hugh Fraser, varies according to which certificate you view – I have seen labourer, farmer, toll-bar keeper and, as here, Customs Officer. Presumably more accurately, he was recorded as a labourer when he was resident in Inverness, at the baptisms of his last two children, although I suppose it is just possible he had other employment at some point.

Thomas had moved to Jemimaville and at some point after 1897 had the attractive sandstone Upperwood headstone erected at Kirkmichael. His own death in 1914, the last of the three Upperwood brothers to die, is not commemorated on any gravestone, so that he is solely remembered in the inscription to his relatives on this headstone: “Erected byThomas Fraser, late farmer in Upperwood”.

photo by Andrew Dowsett

Parish of Resolis Deaths
Thomas Fraser labourer (single) died 17 June 1914 at Jamimaville Resolis age 86 parents Hugh Fraser toll-bar keeper (d) Margaret Fraser ms Bain (d) informant Jane Hossack landlady (present)

Sister Jane died at Upperwood at 1917, and she also is not commemorated on a memorial.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
Jane Fraser house-keeper retired (single) died 12 March 1917 Upperwood Resolis age 80 parents Hugh Fraser toll bar keeper (d) Margaret Fraser ms Bain (d) informant Maggie Fraser grand niece (present)

I shall not pursue the family into more recent times, although I shall include just one more census return, at Upperwood, in 1911 where widow Mary can be seen in the company of several relatives, including a great grand-daughter, Maggie Mary Fraser. Maggie Mary was a daughter of grandson William, by now a police constable in Stornoway, and his wife, Annie Smith. The grandchildren by the name of White were those of daughter Anne, who had married coastguard William George White in Cromarty in 1894. Anne tragically died in 1897, at Upperwood, of that scourge of the time, tuberculosis or phthsis. Her children were absorbed into the household at Upperwood.

1911 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Upperwood, house with 4 rooms with one or more windows
Mary Fraser head widow age 79 crofter born Prince Edward Island speaks ge
Margarette Fraser daur single age 59 domestic serv born Cromarty speaks ge
Mary Dina White granddaur age 15 born Cromarty
Willie George White grandson age 14 school born Inverness
Maggie Mary Fraser great granddaur age 1 born Resolis

Widow Mary continued to reside at Upperwood, dying there as recently as 1916.


A final poignant line

I shall not go any further down in time. But I note that when the Inland Revenue conducted their survey of property in the early 19teens, Mary Fraser ms Cumming was still there in Upperwood Croft. She was careful to stress one important point to the Inland Revenue surveyors:

Internal Revenue Survey
Property: Upperwood at Cairn.
House and croft 14 acres
Owner: Munro, GMG, Lt Col (late), trustees for creditors
Tenant/occupier: Fraser, William, Widow
House materials: stone Roof material: thatch
House description: kitchen, room, 2 attics House condition: very poor
Agricultural buildings: stone, lime; steading good
Notes: tenant erected all buildings

That last comment is the keynote on which I shall leave this story of Upperwood.

Phacelia and barley at Udale; top left: Upperwood Croft, top right: Upperwood; photo by D. Ron Schott


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