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The Arms of the Gabaldon Frasers


When Diana Gabaldon’s 20th century heroine, Claire Beauchamp, slides through the standing stones of an ancient Scottish circle and into the 18th century, she leaves her begetter with the task of ensuring that, to help maintain a willing suspension of disbelief in the reader’s mind, all historical detail is given, and retains, undeniable authenticity. Even the sternest critics will allow timewarps, but anachronistic weaponry and impossible tartans and ridiculous coats of arms will receive short thrift. Accordingly, Diana Gabaldon’s research has become a by-word for conscientious industry ~ even in heraldry. (The arms of her hero, James Fraser of Broch Tuarach, are pictured here on the right.)

The bordure compony to these arms signals immediately that this may be an illegitimate line, and the undifferenced Fraser arms in the 1st and 4th quarters, together with the lordship of Lovat arms in the 3rd quarter, show that the bearer is of the Fraser of Lovat family. The arms in the 2nd quarter are those borne by Claire Beauchamp, the time-traveller who becomes Jamie Fraser’s wife.
Fraser of that Ilk
Fraser of Olivercastle
Fraser of Touchfraser
The Frasers of Lovat descend from the Frasers of that Ilk through the Frasers of Olivercastle and the Frasers of Touchfraser (see above left), but they bear in their first quarter the undifferenced arms of the Chiefs of their Name. This is because they bear in the 2nd and 3rd quarters the arms brought into the family by the Graham of Lovat heiress, and these, the lordship of Lovat arms, are deemed “sufficient difference” to allow the reversion to the original Fraser arms. (A point to note ~ the Olivercastle and Touchfraser arms may be found Sable instead of Azure in early pictures.)
The source of the illegitimacy of Jamie’s line is his father, Brian, who was the eldest bastard of Simon, 11th Lord Fraser of Lovat (executed after the 1745 Rising). During the lifetime of his elder brother, Jamie bore a crescent counterchanged at the fess point and a crescent Azure on the flanks of his crest’s tripping stag regardant, but by the time of his marriage to Claire, which was after his brother’s death, these had been discarded. (In these notes the historic characters are printed in black and the fictional characters are left in blue.)
The Beauchamp arms borne by Claire, which Jamie placed in his 2nd quarter, have an interesting history. William Beauchamp, first cousin of the 1st Lord Beauchamp of Powick, married Elizabeth de Braybrooke, heiress to the St Amand barony, and was subsequently summoned to Parliament as Baron de St Amand in her right. Their son Richard, attainted by Richard III but restored by Henry VII, had no issue other than a bastard son, Anthony St Amand, and the barony was judged extinct. However, his will shows that he had a niece to whom the barony must have passed, and recent research (by Claire’s uncle) revealed that the only child of that niece married the illegitimate Anthony, and in their issue the barony has recently been judged to continue. The reason it remained secret for so long was doubtless owed to the rumoured involvement of Anthony in the murder of the Princes.
Claire, as the heir of line after her uncle, bears the arms illustrated above left, these being the St Amand arms with Anthony’s addition of a riband sinister Sable for his bastardy, and after her marriage to Jamie he added them to his achievement in his 2nd quarter, remarking to Claire that as they both demonstrably descended from bastard lines he was sure they were compatible.
One of the inconveniences of hopping between centuries can be the marital complications. In Claire’s case it is the existence of a perfectly satisfactory husband, Franklin Wolverton Randall, heir presumptive to a baronetcy (and to the undifferenced arms on the right), in the twentieth century. The origins of the Randalls were neither so old nor so distinguished as those of the Beauchamps, their arms dating only from 1573, when they ranked as minor gentry, and their baronetcy from that impecunious monarch George I.
The Badges

Fraser of Lovat

Fraser of
Broch Tuarach

Note that the motto of Fraser of Broch Tuarach “answers” his Chief’s motto ~ “Je suis prest” (old French for “I am ready”) by “Ready and able”.

The Tartans
There are many Fraser tartans, some quite old (and others which are modern trade tartans), so it is difficult to be certain of what the Lovat clansmen wore at any one time. Jamie is recorded as wearing “a red tartan” when Claire first meets him ~ this could be a Fraser tartan similar to the ones shown above as the backing to the badges, although it might have been a district tartan.
The district tartan shown here on the right is one of the few featuring purple, a colour available only rarely in the Highlands but, fortuitously, common from a lichen on the rocky hillsides around Broch Tuarach. When she is in America Claire judges its cheerful hues suitable for a ladies’ tartan.
Broch Tuarach District Tartan
To produce the purple dye in the Fraser country, the lichen is first scraped off the rocks with iron hoops and dried in the sun, and then pulverised and steeped in urine in an airtight vessel. After three weeks it is ready to be boiled with the yarn it is to colour. (In America Claire uses the natural purple dye of the blueberry.)

Diana Gabaldon’s fascinating novels may be ordered from Amazon in North America by clicking on the following titles ~

~ and the guide to the series is

Europeans may order from Amazon in the United Kingdom by clicking instead on the following links
Diana Gabaldon’s latest topped the bestseller charts
~ and the title in Europe of the guide to the series is
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