Topic: William Fraser (1827-1901)

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Tauranga's 'Fraser Street' is named after Colonel William Fraser who fought at the Battle of Te Ranga on 21 June 1864. Fraser was also an auctioneer, politician, owned a hall, and produced the Tauranga Argus.

William Fraser (1827-1901)William Fraser was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1827. He was educated at both the Academy there and at Edinburgh University. He served articles to an Inverness solicitor and then spent 1848 to 1850 working in the office of Christie and Pagan, of Cupar. In 1851 he was admitted as a solicitor.

About this time he married Elizabeth Horsbrough, daughter of the last Hereditary sheriff-clerk of Fifeshire. The couple emigrated to Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. There William experienced visited various diggings on the goldfields.

William became a Drill-Instructor of the Reedbeds Cavalry, a South Australian volunteer unit, who went on to serve in the New Zealand. On 28 September 1863, the South Australian Register reported that he "has shipped for the seat of war in the Tomatin, and Captain Egerton and Serjeant-Major Hawke, formerly of the Kapunda Rifles, are said to have left with the same gallant intention."

In New Zealand in late 1863, William wrote back to South Australia with information that he had "joined the No.5 Company, 2nd Regiment of the Waikato Militia, in which he had been promoted to be Sergeant."

A later letter dated 27 June 1864, received by the South Australian Register, published an account of William's service and experiences, under the caption of "A South Australian in the New Zealand War”:

Mr. Fraser was then at Tauranga, and in his letter gives a spirited account of the affair of the 20th June [presumably referring to the engagement at Te Ranga, on 21 June 1864], in which the Maories, having acted on the offensive, sustained a signal defeat. ... After they were driven into their pa, many of their dead were recognised as soi-disant friendly natives, to whom arms and ammunition had been served out by the Government. Mr.Fraser's horse was shot under him in the engagement, but he managed to extricate himself and joined the infantry until the fight was finished. The Colonial Defence Force are armed with Terry breech-loaders, which are stated to be nearly useless in actual warfare, as they get clogged after having been discharged 20 or 30 times, and cannot be loaded again until they are cleaned. They answer admirably for holiday work, when they can be cleaned after each discharge, but for active service the men rely upon their revolvers. As a large number of the force were about to leave, their time having expired, Mr. Fraser entertained expectations of promotion, which we trust will be speedily realized.

William served throughout the New Zealand Wars, rising to the rank of colonel. It is believe that he actually served with the 1st Regiment of the Waikato Militia. As well as being at Te Ranga in Tauranga, he was at Te Irihanga (Jan 1867), Whakamarama (February 1867), as well as several other minor engagements.

In 1865 William was elected a member of the Auckland Provincial Council for Franklin, and kept that post until 1869. 

The first newspaper known to have been published in Tauranga was the Tauranga Argus, the first edition appearing on 24 November 1866. The following year, in 1867, ownership was transferred to Messrs Fraser & Co.

He was appointed Resident Magistrate and Warden for the Thames in 1869, and kept this post until 1879. He became proprietor of the Thames Advertiser.

In 1884 William was elected to represent the Thames in the House of Representatives, staying in this position until 1890. From 1891 to 1893 he was returned for Te Aroha.

For five consecutive years he was elected Mayor of the Borough of Thames, and was returned as a member of the Thames County Council and colonel of the Thames Scottish Battalion. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, having been initialled in St. Andrew's Lodge under the Scotch Constitution in 1849. William was a member of the Corinthian Lodge. E.G., at the Thames, of which he was past master.

In 1894 he was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives, keeping this post until his death at age 73 on 17 September 1901 (reg. 1901/3923). Elizabeth died at age 74 in (reg. 1906/1576).

William and Elizabeth's headstone at Taruru Cemetery in Thames reads: In memory of Colonel WILLIAM FRASER who served this colony in various capacities for many years who died 17 Sept 1901; also his devoted wife ELIZABETH HORSBRUGH who died 30 Jan 1906 aged 75 years.



A Dictionary of new Zealand Biography (1940) by G. H. Scholefield (Volume 1, A-L, p. 282).

Blood Brothers: The Anzac Genesis (2009) by Jeff Hopkins-Weise (p.p. 105-106).

Colonel William Fraser (The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Wellington Provincial District, 1897)

Death of Colonel Fraser (New Zealand Herald, 18 September 1901, p. 6).

New Zealand's Colonial Defence Force (Cavalry) and its Australian Context, 1863-66.

Tauranga 1882-1982: The Centennial of Gazetting Tauranga as a Borough (1982) edited by A. C. Bellamy (pp. 69 & 161).

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William Fraser (1827-1901)

First Names:William
Last Name:Fraser
Date of Birth:1827
Place of Birth:Inverness, Scotland
Date of death:17 September 1901
Place of death:New Zealand
Place of burial:Taruru Cemetery (Thames)
Spouses name:Elizabeth Horsbrough
Spouses date of death:30 January 1906
Spouses place of burial:Taruru Cemetery (Thames)
Military Service:Waikato Milita (1st Regiment)

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