Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fraser, Patrick

FRASER, PATRICK, Lord Fraser (1819–1889), senator of the College of Justice, son of Patrick Fraser, a merchant of Perth, was born at Perth in 1819. He was educated at the Perth grammar school and at the university of St. Andrews. Going to Edinburgh he entered the office of William Fraser, clerk to the burgh of Canongate, and he afterwards served in the firm of Todd & Hill, writers to the signet. In 1843 he was called to the bar, and three years later he published ‘The Law of Personal and Domestic Relations,’ which attracted a great deal of attention among both professional and non-professional readers. He rapidly rose as a lawyer and acquired considerable reputation. He obtained the appointment of counsel for the crown in excise cases, and on Lord Ormidale's promotion to the bench in 1864 he was appointed sheriff of Renfrewshire. In his career at the bar he was engaged in some of the greatest causes of his day, including the Yelverton case and the two famous succession cases of Breadalbane and Udny. In 1871 the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by the university of Edinburgh, in recognition of the ‘historical research, the vigour of thought, and boldness of criticism which characterise his work on personal and domestic relations.’ In 1878 he was elected dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and in 1880 he was made a queen's counsel. On the resignation of Lord Gifford he was appointed a lord of session with the title of Lord Fraser, and on 15 Nov. in the same year he was appointed lord ordinary in exchequer cases. He steadily discharged his judicial duties, his bar and roll of causes generally being among the most crowded in the outer house. He died suddenly at Gattonside House, near Melrose, on 27 March 1889. He married Miss Sharp, daughter of a Birmingham merchant. She survived him, with a son—Mr. W. G. Fraser, a member of the Scottish bar—and four daughters.

Few men of his generation had read so extensively in all departments of Scottish legal literature, and he gave the fruits of his researches in a manner at once clear, concise, and popular.

His works are:

  1. ‘A Treatise on the Law of Scotland as applicable to the Personal and Domestic Relations; comprising Husband and Wife, Parent and Child, Guardian and Ward, Master and Servant, and Master and Apprentice,’ 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1846, 8vo.
  2. ‘Tytler's History of Scotland examined; a review’ (anon.), Edinburgh, 1848, 8vo.
  3. ‘Domestic Economy, Gymnastics, and Music; an omitted clause in the Education Bill. By a Bystander,’ Edinburgh, 1855, 8vo.
  4. ‘The Conflict of Laws in Cases of Divorce,’ Edinburgh, 1860, 8vo.
  5. ‘A Treatise on the Law of Scotland relative to Parent and Child, and Guardian and Ward,’ 2nd edit. prepared by Hugh Cowan, Edinburgh, 1866, 8vo.
  6. ‘Sketch of the Career of Duncan Forbes of Culloden, 1737–47,’ Aberdeen, 1875, 8vo.
  7. ‘Treatise on Husband and Wife, according to the Law of Scotland,’ 2nd edit., 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1876, 8vo.
  8. ‘Treatise on the Law of Scotland relative to Master and Servant, and Master and Apprentice,’ 3rd edit. prepared by W. Campbell, Edinburgh, 1881, 8vo.

[Catalogue of the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh; Times, Scotsman, Glasgow Herald, Dundee Advertiser, and North British Daily Mail of 29 March 1889; Dod's Peerage, 1888, p. 339; Debrett's House of Commons and Judicial Bench, 1888, p. 323.]

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