John Fraser



A co-founder of Fraser & Neave (F&N), the world-famous bottler of fizzy drinks, John Fraser (b. 1843, Wigtown, Scotland–d. 14 February 1907, Farnham, England1) was a Scotsman who made his fortune in Asia. His diverse business interests included printing and publishing, brick manufacturing, property development, share broking, sawmilling and, most notably, aerated drinks under the F&N brand.2

Early career
John Fraser began his early career in finance. He was a native of Wigtown, Scotland. Upon leaving school, he joined the National Bank at Newton Stewart located seven miles from his home, but was soon transferred to a Manchester bank. In 1865, he left for Singapore and worked at the Chartered Mercantile Bank, but later went to Shanghai, where he stayed for a couple of years before returning to Singapore. He then entered into a partnership with Alex Gentle, who was also with the Chartered Mercantile Bank, in a broking and accounting business. His other partners in the business were James Kerr, David Kerr and H. Payne Gallwey. In 1873, amidst growing prosperity in Singapore, Fraser founded a financial firm called Fraser & Company (now known as Fraser Securities).3

Fraser & Neave and other enterprises
A greater partnership occurred in 1875 when Fraser joined hands with David Chalmers Neave, a printer at the Singapore Straits Printing Company. They bought Reverend Benjamin Keasberry’s Mission Press when the latter’s wife died in 1875, and renamed it Fraser and Neave. In 1883, Fraser and Neave formed the Singapore and Straits Aerated Water Company, which became incorporated as Fraser and Neave (F&N), Ltd in 1898. The F&N business extended to many parts of Malaya and even Bangkok in Siam. The Fraser and Neave Building on Robinson Road was one of Fraser’s properties. In 1887, Fraser became part of a five-man team that revived The Singapore Free Press as a daily newspaper.4


In 1875, Fraser  formed a company known as Fraser and Cumming with James Cumming that made construction materials and undertook property development. Fraser and Cumming leased the Johore Steam Sawmills from James Meldrum, Keasberry’s son-in-law. It also owned a brick-manufacturing factory in Balestier and built a number of houses in the Dalvey Road area, including three at White House Park – one of which, Cree Hall, was occupied by Fraser. In the 1890s, Fraser unsuccessfully tried to form a company to build a new hotel in the vicinity of Coleman Street. Fraser also carried out many important liquidations, notably that of Sayle and Company and the Singapore Insurance Company. As Fraser was involved in so many businesses, he was nicknamed “Jolly Old Octopus”.5

Family and social life
John Fraser was president of the Singapore Club for many years and was an auctioneer at the race lotteries, where he would be dressed in full highland costume. He was also the secretary of the freemason branch, Lodge Zetland in the East, and was one of the original members of the Cricket Club. Fraser won the 100-yard race during the SCC sports day in 1874.6


Retirement and death
Fraser retired in 1897 and returned to England, spending winters in Scotland. He moved to Farnham in 1903 and died on 14 February 1907 at the age of 64.7



Author

Marsita Omar



References
1. Deaths. (1907, February 16). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6; The late Mr. John Fraser. (1907, February 16). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Lee, K. L. (1988). The Singapore house, 1819–1942. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 178. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE); Tyers, R. K. (1976). Singapore, then & now (Vol. 2). Singapore: University Education Press, p. 422. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 TYE); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 195, 457–459. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Fraser and Neave Limited. Our heritage. Retrieved 2016, September 8 from Fraser and Neave Limited website: http://www.fraserandneave.com/about-us/our-heritage; Fraser & Neave. (1983). 1883–1983, the great years. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, pp. 3, 7. (Call no.: RSING 338.7663 EIG)
3. Lee, K. L. (1988). The Singapore house, 1819–1942. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 178. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 457–458. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Singapore Stockbrokers. (2012). AmFraser Securities Pte Ltd. Retrieved 2016, September 8 from Singapore Stockbrokers website: http://singaporestockbrokers.com/
4. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 194–195, 455, 458. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819-1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. i. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Lee, K. L. (1988). The Singapore house, 1819–1942. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 178. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE); Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819–2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 106. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 161. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Fraser & Neave. (1983). 1883–1983, the great years. Singapore: Fraser & Neave, pp. 4, 7, 8. (Call no.: RSING 338.7663 EIG)
5. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 195, 197, 458. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Tyers, R. K. (1976). Singapore, then & now (Vol. 2). Singapore: University Education Press, p. 422. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 TYE); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 161. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Lee, K. L. (1988). The Singapore house, 1819–1942. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 178. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE); New Chinese church at Bukit Timah. (1887, August 10). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. The late Mr. John Fraser. (1907, February 16). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. The late Mr John Fraser. (1907, March 22). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, p. 5; The late Mr. John Fraser. (1907, February 16). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertise (1884–1942), p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013).  Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 130.
(Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])


Shimizu, H. (2008). Japanese firms in contemporary Singapore. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 111.
(Call no.: RSING 338.8895205957 SHI)

Yu, J., & Fu, C. (2013). A legend turns 130. Singapore: Fraser and Neave, Limited.
(Call no.: RSING 338.7663095957 LEG)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Businessmen--Singapore
People and communities>>Population and migration
Personalities
Business enterprises, Foreign--Singapore--19th century
Personalities>>Biographies
Commerce and Industry
Trade and industry
Economy