WILLIAM FRASER was born c. 1784 at Lochbroom, Rosshire, Scotland. Son of Thomas Fraser and Ann McKenzie.
William, married prior to coming to Australia. Date of marriage not confirmed at this stage. He married CATHERINE MCGREGOR, daughter of Alexander McGregor and Mary McGregor. Catherine was born in Lochbroom c. 1794.
On the 22nd October, 1838, the ship "JAMES MORAN", set sail , for Australia on board were William, Catherine and their six children. The family arrived in Sydney, in the Colony of New South Wales on the 11th February 1839. The trip lasted four months, which was fairly quick as sometimes if winds did not prevail, the journey could last up to 6 months, which stressed the passengers a good deal and several deaths were recorded. Typhoid Fever and Dysentery often claimed the lives of many travelling to the colony.
Upon arrival, William, was described as in good health, a shepherd, aged fifty five years, Presbyterian, unable to read and unable to write. He was brought out to the colony by the Government, under engagement to Mr. Wilkinson at "Mollymain".
Catherine, was in good health, a dairymaid, aged forty four years, unable to read and could not write.
There are two shipping records that we have considered. The embarkation list states that there were five children and one male child aged between 7 years and 14 years on board. The other list does not mention the young male child. Also some of the ages are at least two years different according to the I.G.I records. However, William may have applied some two years prior to sailing, to come to the colony. The ages would then have been correct at the time of applying.
William and Catherine along with their children, remained at "Mollymain" for only a few months as they arrived on the Monaro during the late part of 1839. They were the first settlers at Middlingbank, near Cooma and the Fraser homestead was built there. The dwelling was erected about half a mile from where the Church stands at Middlingbank, and on the left-hand side of the old Adaminaby road. The Frasers, eventually squattered on most of the land from Middlingbank to Adaminaby. Horses played a major role in the lives of the Frasers as at one time they grazed some seven hundred horses which they used to often take to Victoria Ior sale. They also ran several head of cattle.
It is very hard to imagine, the difficulties, hardships a loneliness, these early pioneers were subjected to. Many acts or bravery and heroism no doubt took place which we today never heard about as nothing was recorded. William Fraser must have been amongst some of the very earliest settlers in the Monaro area.
In 1858, Angus McMillan, is reported to have crossed the Snowy River and the Alps, Journeying to Omeo, after crossing the Goulburn Plains. He mentions in some of his reports, that several families were already settled on the high country. The Pender family and the Hyland Family were two he mentioned. Other early pioneers, were the Shanley, McEvoy, Brooks and Woodhouse families. These people gave up the security and comforts of a closer settlement and travelled to the wild, unexplored and sometimes cold areas on the Monaro. They carried their worldly possessions on an old creaky dray and lived in bark and slab huts. Can you imagine, baking your bread in a clay oven and washing your clothes in the nearest watering place. Truly, people of fortitude. Such a family was that of the Frasers.
Things went fairly well for the Frasers, until 1861, when Sir John Robertson, pushed through an act, stopping squatting and opening Crown Land up to be sold. As a result, the Frasers lost a lot of their land. A dispute arose over some six hundred and forty acres, court proceedings were undertaken and unfortunately the verdict went against the Frasers. This episode, caused a severe financial burden to the Frasers. This occured not long before William's death.
WILLIAM FRASER, the first arrival of this Fraser Family, died at Frying Pan, near Middlingbank, on the 1st January, 1862 aged seventy six years. At the time of his death, he was said to have been a squatter and died from an illness, lasting some fourteen days, and old age. William, is buried in the Gegedzerick Cemetery.
CATHERINE FRASER., nee McGregor, died on the 11th March, 1872, aged seventy eight years at "Wambrook", near Cooma. She died from old age and an illness lasting five weeks. Catherine is also buried in the Gegedzerick Cemetery.
William and Catherine had seven children, five surviving, marrying and leaving many descendants throughout Australia and on the Monaro today.
From 'Anne Fraser and John Watkins' by Christine McGregor
Descendants of William Thomas Fraser