Thomas Fraser

Biography of Thomas Fraser

Thomas Fraser was probably born in Invernessshire in 1726, the younger son of Fraser of Balnain. He graduated M.D. from Glasgow University in 1749 and went to the West Indies, becoming a ‘Practitioner of Physic in the Island of Antigua’ according to W. Innes Addison’s research. He was married twice. His first wife, Margaret Berry, died in 1750 and he married Elizabeth MacKinnon on 18th June 1752 at a wedding ceremony attended by Governor Tomlinson. Dr. Fraser made important contributions to the observation and treatment of diseases in the colony. When an outbreak of smallpox struck in 1756 he directed the inoculation of between 270 and 300 enslaved people. Only two of them died, both of whom had been infected with the virus prior to inoculation. He wrote to Dr. Donald Munro in London that, ‘the small-pox no sooner made its appearance here than we immediately thought of inoculation; the success of which has been remarkable among people of all ages, blacks as well as other inhabitants, that the most obstinate were at last prevailed on to countenance this practice’. In 1759 he had a paper read to the Royal Society, an account of the effects of castor oil on bilious disorders. He died the following year, aged 34. He left his property and nineteen enslaved people to his wife. A son, William MacKinnon Fraser, graduated M.D. from Edinburgh University and became physician to King William IV when he was Prince Regent.


Thomas Fraser
Born 1726.
Died 1760.
University Link: Graduate
GU Degree: MD, 1749;
Record last updated: 12th Apr 2021

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