Colonel Simon Fraser, Commanding Officer
78th Regiment of Foot, 1757-63

Saturday, May 27, 2017


One question most often asked by genealogists is where they can obtain a roster of soldiers, recruited in Scotland, who served with Fraser's Highlanders [originally numbered 2nd Highland Battalion] in Canada during the Seven Years War, 1757-63. 

At the outset, the chances of identifying your ancestor as a soldier from the regiment are slim, but not entirely impossible. Officer biographies are much more common and often contain genealogical data that we're able to connect with, whereas the scarcity of records for non-commissioned officers [serjeants, corporals, and private men] makes identification more difficult. And it's because of the latter that we're forced to seek additional records for clues.

In the case of our ancestor, William Alexander Campbell [Marie Josephte Chartier,] the clue came in the form of a private bill of sale William had notarized in Saint Vallier, Quebec, Canada, in 1793, 30 years after the conclusion of the war. Located within the original instrument from 1761 was an official endorsement from Jacques [James] Abercrombie, Major, 78 Regt. Researchers for well over 100 years had speculated William was a private soldier from the regiment based on oral family history, and it was not until early 2017 that we would finally uncover the proof buried in old notarial records located at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

This is just one example of the need to look past standard military and regimental records available in potentially identifying your relative. It also underscores the value of careful and thorough research and documentation in tracing that elusive ancestor who may have originally been recruited in Scotland, and later settled in Canada after the disbandment of the old 78th Regiment or returned home in 1763.

A word of caution! Evidence exists not all soldiers of the 78th Regiment were originally from Scotland, and a very small percentage of augments and draft recruits may have been supplemented from North America as regimental losses were incurred between 1757-63.

Recruiting Expenses

In December 1757, Lord Loudoun sent orders to New York for the regiment to prepare an official account of all initial recruiting expenses, "with all expedition possible," stating the particular sum each recruit costs as levy money and subsistence from the dates of their attestations to 24 April 1757. Captain John Campbell was assigned this task and immediately departed for Connecticut on 11 December where the remainder of the regiment was garrisoned.

Arriving three days later, Captain Campbell distributed orders to the company officers requesting the  expenses. The following is the detailed report that was prepared and submitted by the captain on/about 14 December 1757.

Note: Minor formatting changes including category headers and bracketed text has been added for clarification and do not appear in the original document.

Second Highland Battalion Recruiting Expenses, 1756-57

[a] Levy Money for 1000 Private: £3000
[a] Muster given in Aid from 25th October till 24th Decr.: £1769

[b] Subst. of the 10 Companies Consisting of 40 Sergts. 40 Corpl.
20 Drums & 1000 private men from 25 Decbr. 1756 to 24 April 1757: £3509

[c] 182 days Subst. to 20 Warrant men from 25th October 1756 to 24th April 1757 as a Recruiting Fund: £91

Sub total: £8369

[d] From the above Deduct the Non Effectives of the 10 Companies as p. accot.: £669.10.5

Total: £7899.9.7

[a] 1890 at £3 Each: £5670
[a] 40 Drafts at £5 each: £200

[b] Subst. of the above till 24 April: £3400

[c] other Regimental Expenses: £400

Debt Remains: £9670
Credit Subtracted: £7899.9.7

Debt owing by the Regiment preceeding the 24th of April 1757:

Total: £1770.10.5

[a] Levy money
[b] Subsistence
[c] Recruiting fund/additional expenses
[d] Deductions

Warrant men were fictitious persons found in most British foot regimental accounting books whose pay was distributed among widows of the officers; incidental expenses such as reimbursing the colonel for deserters' clothing; excess recruiting expenses, and for the personal use of the colonel and the regimental agent.

Soldier Documents

The documents are primarily kept at the National Archives in Kew, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom; however, very few original recruitment records for Colonel Fraser's Regiment are in existence. The National Archives has acquired transcript extract of warrants relating to the formation of the 2nd Highland Battalion in 1757, and this material is available on microfilm reel C-10866. Additionally, the National Army Museum in London published a pdf leaflet specifically designed to provide information about obtaining records, if available.

Enlistment Contract

These do certify that          Born in the Parish of
County of           Aged          Years came before 
me and declar'd that he had Voluntarly and of his own free will
enlisted himself to serve his Majesty King George as a Soldier
in Major James Clephane's Company of Lieut Colonel Fraser's
Second Battalion of Highlanders: that he had received the en=
=listing Money agreed on, and had no impediment to Render
him unfit for the Service. Accordingly he had the Articles
of War Read to him, and took the Oath to Majesty as by Law

Second Battalion of Highlanders Enlistment Contract, 1757
Second Battalion of Highlanders enlistment contract, 1757

Recruits at Dundee for Major Clephane's Company

If your ancestor was recruited by Major James Clephane of the 78th, who hired a professional recruiter named John Strachan to recruit near Dundee, Scotland, some of these papers have been preserved and show the names of recruits, ages, birthplace, occupation, etc., as follows:

Alexander Bell, 19 years, 5'3" enlisted in Dundee 18 February 1757, born in Kirriemuir, Angus, a laborer, fresh complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, round visage.

Alexander Findlay, 17 years, 5'3" enlisted in Dundee 19 February 1757, born in Monifieth, Angus, a laborer, swarthy complexion, black eyes, black hair, round visage.

Peter Moody, 17 years, 5'1" enlisted in Dundee 20 February 1757, born in Glamis, Angus, a laborer, fresh complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, long visage.

William McKenzie, 17 years, 5'2", enlisted in Dundee 20 February 1757, born in Kingoldrum, Angus, a weaver, fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

William Fife, 18 years, 5'2" enlisted in Dundee 21 February 1757, born in Kirriemuir, Angus, a weaver, fresh complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, long visage.

George Wright, 21 years, 5'5" enlisted in Forfar 24 February 1757, born in Ruthven, Angus, a laborer, florid complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, round visage.

David Morris, 24 years, 5'3" enlisted in Perth 4 March 1757, born in Drone, Perth, a laborer, fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

Peter Robb, 17 years, 5'3", enlisted in Careston 8 March 1757, born in Glamis, Angus, a laborer, fresh complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, long visage.

Angus Laird, 17 years, 5'3", enlisted in Dundee 10 March 1757, born in Clunie, Perth, a laborer, fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

John Molyson, 18 years, 5'4", enlisted in Dundee 15 March 1757, born in Fethers, Mearns, a laborer, pale complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

George Gordon, ........, 5'2", enlisted in Dundee 17 March 1757, born in Kintore, Aberdeen, a laborer, pale complexion, flaxen hair, .........

Recruiting Map

We have compiled a list of over 200 original soldiers of the Second Highland Battalion, including civilian recruiters, and documented their birth locales according to existing available documents. Both the recruiting map and the accompanying recruiting spreadsheet are available for download for personal research. Please contact us to obtain permission required for commercial usage.

Recruiting map

Recruiting spreadsheet [Microsoft Excel required]

Recruiting map for 248 soldiers of the Colonel Fraser's Second Highland Battalion, 1757
Recruiting map for the soldiers of Colonel Fraser's Second Highland Battalion, 1757

Size Roll of Clephane’s Recruits. Elizabeth Rose Family papers. GD125/22/16(15), National Archives Scotland.

Second Highland Battalion Enlistment Contract, 1757. GD125/22/16/14/1, National Archives Scotland.

Fonds Cour Supérieure. District judiciaire de Montmagny. Cote CN302. Greffes de notaires, 1709-1953. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Captain John Campbell, "Second Highland Battalion Recruiting Expenses, 1757." GD125/22/17(16), National Archives Scotland.

John Strachan, "Descriptive roll of men raised for Clephane at Dundee by John Strachan." GD125/22/16/18, National Archives Scotland.

©  Jeffrey Campbell, The 78th Regiment of Foot, 2018.


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