Sir William Fraser, 4th Baronet

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File:William Augustus Fraser, Vanity Fair, 1875-01-09.jpg
"The Sanitary". Caricature by Ape published in Vanity Fair in 1875.

Sir William Augustus Fraser, 4th Baronet of Leadclune (10 February 1826 – 17 August 1898), of Pilton House, near Barnstaple, Devon, was an English politician, author and collector. He was elected Member of Parliament for Barnstaple (Devon) in 1852, and again in 1857, and for Ludlow (Shropshire) in 1863 and for Kidderminster (Worcestershire) in 1894.


He was the eldest son and heir of Sir James Fraser, 3rd Baronet, a colonel of the 7th Hussars, who had served on Wellington's staff at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.[1]


Fraser was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, graduating B.A. and M.A. In 1847 he was appointed an officer in the 1st Life Guards, but retired with a captain's rank in 1852.[2] He then set about entering parliament, and the ups and downs of his political career were rather remarkable. He was returned for Barnstaple in 1852, but the election was declared void on account of bribery, and the constituency was disfranchised for two years.[1]

At the election of 1857 Sir William, who had meantime been defeated at Harwich, was again returned at Barnstaple. He was, however, defeated in 1859, but was elected in 1863 at Ludlow. This seat he held for only two years, when he was again defeated and did not re-enter parliament until 1874, when he was returned for Kidderminster, a constituency he represented for six years, when he retired. He was a familiar figure at the Carlton Club, always ready with a copious collection of anecdotes of Wellington, Benjamin Disraeli and Napoleon III.[1]


Books written by him include:[1]

  • Words on Wellington (1889)
  • Disraeli and His Day (1891)
  • Hic et Ubique (1893)
  • Napoleon III. (1896)
  • Waterloo Ball (1897). A book on the Duchess of Richmond's ball.


He died in Westminster on 17 Aug. 1898, aged 72.[1]


He bequeathed a large fortune to be accumulated in trust during twenty-one years for the benefit of his nephew, Sir Keith Alexander Fraser, eldest son of General James Keith Fraser, formerly colonel of the 1st Life Guards, who succeeded him in the baronetcy. By his will dated 1 December 1886, and proved in October 1898, he further bequeathed a splendid collection of Gillray's caricatures to the House of Lords, a similar collection of H.B.'s caricatures, and a unique set of portraits of former speakers to the House of Commons; the chairs of Thackeray and Dickens respectively to the Travellers' and Athenæum Club, Nelson's sword to the United Service Club, Byron's sofa to the Garrick, the manuscript of Gray's 'Elegy' to Eton College library, and the Duke of Marlborough's sword to the Scots Guards at St. James's Palace.

The chief portion of Sir William Fraser's library was sold by auction by Messrs. Sotheby, 22 to 30 April 1901, and one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two lots fetched £20,334 18s., or more than twice what Fraser had given for them. The chief items were extra-illustrated books and books with autograph inscriptions by distinguished persons.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Chisholm, 1911
  2. William, Anderson (1867). The Scottish nation: or, The surnames, families, literature, honours, and biographical history of the people of Scotland. A. Fullarton. p. 264. 
  3. Seccombe 1901.


Further reading

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Fortescue
Richard Bremridge
Member of Parliament for Barnstaple
With: Richard Bremridge
Succeeded by
Richard Samuel Guinness
John Laurie
Preceded by
Richard Samuel Guinness
George Buck
Member of Parliament for Barnstaple
With: John Laurie
Succeeded by
George Potts
John Ferguson Davie
Preceded by
Beriah Botfield
George Windsor-Clive
Member of Parliament for Ludlow
With: George Windsor-Clive
Succeeded by
John Edmund Severne
George Windsor-Clive
Preceded by
Albert Grant
Member of Parliament for Kidderminster
Succeeded by
John Brinton