Fraserburgh: the foundation of the town

A Fraserburgh scene

Adapted from Pratt (1858)

Fraserburgh may be said to owe its origin to Alexander Fraser of Philorth, who became head of the family by the death of his grandfather in 1569, to whom he was served and "retoured" heir in 1570. Previous to this time the place bore the name of Faithlie, and had been erected into a free burgh of barony in favour of his predecessor, Alexander Fraser of Philorth. King James VI granted a charter of Novodamus in 1588 erecting the town of Faithlie into free burgh of barony and a free port. Another charter was granted by the same monarch in 1601 in favour of Alexander Fraser of Philorth, whereby the barony of Faithlie was erected into a free port, free burgh of barony, and free regality, to be called, in all time thereafter, the Burgh and Regality of Fraserburgh; and to this day, The Broch is its locally familiar designation.

Sir Alexander came to his estates in 1569 and began to build a large and beautiful town at Faithlie. In the spring of 1570 he laid the foundation of the Tower of Kynnaird's Head, and the next year, he built the new church. After this "he continued to beautifie and inlarge the town with publick buildings and fine streets;" and on its being erected into a burgh of regality, he obtained for himself and his successors, among other ample privileges those "of naming the magistrates and town council, and of erecting an university, equal in privileges to any in the kingdom," he and his heirs having "the nomination of the principal, professors, and whole masters thereof."

Despite the good intentions, it proved impossible to appoint an acceptable principal, and 'nothing more was done'. The only tangible memorial of the University of Fraserburgh is a single tablet of stone sited in the South Parish church (McKean 1990).

(Revision date: Wednesday 22nd February 2012)