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Constance Fraser, May 27, 1928 - June 4, 2013

President 1990-1992

We are sad to announce the death of our Past President Constance Fraser, at the age of 85. She was a member for over 60 years, having first joined in April 1952.

Her record of activities in the Society is long and impressive. She first went on Council in 1959, and in 1966 went on to the Manuscripts Committee. In 1966 she became Secretary of the newly formed Records Publication Committee. The Manuscripts Committee then disappeared, in 1968, presumably folded into that.

From 1971 she became Secretary of the Society, jointly with C M Daniels. She retained her secretaryship of the Records Publication Committee, overseeing publication of our Records Series. She was also on the Committee for Country Meetings and (ex-officio) on a new Standing Committee for Documentary Collections. In 1973 she also became Secretary of the newly formed Executive Committee and of the Activities Committee.

In 1974 she became one of our Vice-Presidents. In 1978 she acted as sole Secretary to the Society, when C M Daniels became President. She became President herself in 1990, serving until the end of 1992, and still recorded as Secretary. (She was joined by Derek Cutts as joint secretary in 1991, and he became sole secretary in 1993). She was also listed from 1990 as being the person responsible for the lecture programme. In addition, she  was our representative at various times on the Bagpipe Museum Liaison Committee, the Association of Northumberland Local History Societies (ANLHS), the British Association for Local History and the Museum of Antiquities. Once her term of office was ended, she remained on Council as a Past President until the end of her life.

In addition, Constance was one of the founder members of ANLHS, in 1966 and was President from 1991 until her death, remaining an active member of the Executive. She also served as editor of  Tyne and Tweed, their annual journal, over three separate periods (1975/1984, 2001/2005 and 2007/2010). She was a regular speaker at local history societies across the county. She was also President of the City Guides.

The purchase of the Nunnykirk cross by the Society in 1976 (now on display in the GNM) was aided by a very generous, but non-advertised, donation from Constance.

Constance was, for almost the whole of her professional life, Staff Tutor in Local History in the various incarnations of University-based adult education in Newcastle, at a time when the post of Staff Tutor had some real meaning in both teaching and research.  As a teacher she took adult education out and about to many communities on Tyneside and Northumberland.  As a medieval historian of distinction she did fundamental work in editing and publishing manuscripts on matters of governmental and legal administration and of trade and taxation. She produced scholarly editions of The Charters of Bishop Bek; The Northumberland Petitions; The Northern Petitions; The Northumberland Lay Subsidy Roll of 1296; The Northumberland Eyre Roll; The Newcastle Chamberlain's Accounts 1508-11. These are works of austere and disciplined scholarship.  Her writings include a book for OUP on Bishop Bek, articles on aspects of the economic and commercial life of Tyneside and Northumberland in C13-14, a monograph on the Palatine Courts of Durham, and books on Tyneside and Northumberland for a wider readership.  Well into her retirement, almost to the last years of her life, she was the General Editor of the project to edit and publish the Manor Court Rolls of Wakefield. As recently as 2009, the editors of a collection of specialist papers on Newcastle and Gateshead before 1700 again turned to Constance for 'The Economic Growth of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1150-1536'.


In the future, don’t forget your past