Open main menu


FRASER, JAMES (1700–1769), Scotch divine (sometimes called Fraser of Pitcalzian), was born in 1700 at the manse of Alness in Ross-shire, where his father, the Rev. John Fraser (d. 1711), was minister from 1696 till his death in 1711. The father, a native of the highlands, graduated at Aberdeen in 1678, attended dissenting meetings in London, was seized with Alexander Shiels in 1684, was sent to Leith, and thence, chained with Shiels, in the kitchen-yacht to Edinburgh, and was imprisoned in Dunottar Castle 18 May 1685. After three months of terrible suffering, he with his wife was among the hundred persons who were made a present of to the laird of Pitlochie and shipped for New Jersey, where they were to be disposed of for the laird's benefit. In New Jersey Fraser was set at liberty; went to New England, and preached as a licentiate at Waterbury, Connecticut. He returned to Scotland at the revolution, was ordained 23 Dec. 1691, and was settled first at Glencorse (1691–5), and afterwards at Alness (Scott, Fasti, pt. i. 281–2, pt. v. 291).

James Fraser, the son, was a man of considerable theological learning, and besides discharging his pastoral duties in a highly edifying way, showed no little ability as a biblical critic. He was licensed by the presbytery of Chanonry 6 Nov. 1723, and ordained 17 Feb. 1726, becoming minister of Alness. The treatise entitled ‘The Scripture Doctrine of Sanctification’ (Edinb. 1774) was suggested in consequence of the false view, as Fraser held, taken by Locke of the fifth and sixth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, Locke applying them solely to the Gentiles. Starting from this point, the author was led into a very copious exposition of chapters vi. vii. viii. and an elaborate refutation of the Arminian views of Grotius, Hammond, Locke, Whitby, Taylor, Alexander, and others. His book has kept its ground in Scotland as an able and elaborate exposition of these important chapters, from the Calvinistic point of view. Fraser was a regular correspondent of Robert Wodrow, to whom he suggested the preparation of his work on witchcraft. He died 5 Oct. 1769. His widow, Jean Macleod, died 13 March 1778.

[A short account of the author prefixed to his work by the Rev. A. Fraser, Inverness, endorsed by Dr. John Erskine, Edinburgh, 1774; Scott's Fasti, pt. v. 291–2.]

W. G. B.