Frasers and the Templars and the Battle of Roslin. 















Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle left two daughter heiresses. Joan who married Patrick Fleming whose descendants are Lord Fleming and the Earls of Wigton. Mary who married Gilbert Hay whose descendants are the Hays of Yester, the Marquis of Tweeddale.  Apart from the Fraser cinquefoils both the Fleming and Hay families had a goat's head as a crest see images above and on the right(1).   Where this crest came from is unknown but as both Fleming and Hay have it a Fraser origin is probable.   It is known that the Fraser lands were held by the Templars until that organisation was suppressed in 1312.    At that time the adminstration of the Templar lands were taken over by The Knights of St. John whose chief was Lord Torphicen. (1).  Hence, the Templars still held the superiority of the Fraser lands when they were inherited by the Flemings and Hays.   Was the goat's head crest a reference to the Templars?  The goat's head is incorporated into the armorial of the town of Biggar in Lanarkshire.  It was also on the bookplate of the author Ian Fleming(2).  The goat's head is the crest of Clan Fleming and its armorial still includes the Fraser cinquefoils(3).   The goat's head is also the crest of the cadet line of the Hays - the Hays of Yester. The Hay goat's head crest can be found above the gateway at Neidpath castle - see image on Frasers of Neidpath page.   The emblem of the goat's head does seem to be very important to the Flemings and the Hays.  A further probable reference to the Knights of St. John can be found on the heraldry of the Tweedie family of Essex - see page on the Tweedie Family Heraldry.

Simon Fraser is recorded in 1303 at Roslin, of Da Vinci Code fame, of engaging and defeating three different parts of the English army on the same day.  He with Sinclair of Roslin and Lord Badenoch - known as the Red Comyn -  were the commanders of the Scottish army that day.   Bruce was still in Ireland at this time.   But what of William Wallace?   He maybe fought at the battle of Roslin, suggesting battle tactics  but declining to lead the Scots(4) - or that he had retired from public life after his defeat at Falkirk(5) or maybe he was in France(6).   Were the battles at Roslin about the Templars and not about the Realm taking into account the location of the battles - Roslin and that two of the Scottish commanders Sinclair and Fraser had argent/sable, sable/argent respectively on their armorials.  The colours of white and black depicting good/evil, ying/yang etc were associated with the Templars and the Knights of St.John.     

The Frasers and Tweedies are recorded as both owning lands in Drumelzier at the same time, indeed intermarrying.  However I think that the marriage of Katherine Fraser and James Tweedie in 1525 is the only formal connection between the two families that would justify the customary joint armorial?

There is an English armorial for the Tweedies of Essex that shows both the Tweedie and Fraser arms.   This is dated 1558.   It is said that the Essex branch of the Tweedie family came "owt of Scotland frome a howse called Dromelzane."  His arms were quarterly 1st & 4th Argent a saltire engrailed Gules a Chief Azure (for Twedye); 2nd & 3rd Azure a Cross pattee ermine between three cinquefoiks Or, (for Fraser).

I had thought that this was a one off but it cropped up again on brasses in the Church of Stock Harvard-cum-Ramsden Bellhouse Essex(3).  It can be seen that the first quadrant is for Tweedie and the second for Fraser. 

The three cinquefoils are immediately recognisable as Fraser.  The Cross Pattee is the emblem of the Knights of St John.  This presumably is a reference to the fact that the superiority of the Fraser lands was held by the Templars then the Knights of St John when that organisation was suppressed in 1312.  The significance of the Ermine on the cross is unclear but Ermine is associated with Brittany.   More about this on the Tweedie Heraldry page.   Emblem of the Knights of St' John below.



1) Buchan, J.W, Paton, Rev H; History of Peeblesshire, Jackson, Wylie & C0, Glasgow 1927.   For Hay armorial p293. Vol III, for Oliver p354. for Templers/Knights of St. John pp382-383, for Fleming armorial p380. 

2)  Gardiner, Philip; The Bond Code, The Dark World of Ian Fleming and James Bond, Bounty Books, London, 2009. p95.

3)  Plean, George Way of and Squire Romilly; Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia, St Kilda, Glasgow, 2017.  Third Edition p189.

4)  Oxbrow, Mark and Robertson,Ian; Rosslyn and the Grail. Mainstream, Edinburgh, 2005.  pp36-38.

5)  Veitch, Professor, History and Poetry of the Scottish Border, Blackwood & Son, Edinburgh,1898. Vol I pp299

6)  Martine, Roddy; The Secrets of Rosslyn, Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2006. p36


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