Fraser (Frazer), John (1803/4–1852), poet and cabinet-maker, was born in Birr, King's Co. (Offaly), into a presbyterian family, originally bearing the name de Jean (possibly of huguenot extraction). There are conflicting accounts of his date of birth. It is asserted in one source that he was born 24 March 1813, while cemetery records give his age at death as 48. By inference (he died the day before his birthday), he may have been born 24 March 1803. Supposedly intended for the ministry, he chose to be apprenticed to a cabinet-maker. He seems to have come to Dublin in the early 1820s. Eva O'Conor, a poem in three cantos, probably by him, was published in the city in 1826. During the 1830s and 1840s he wrote occasional verse, mostly political in content, for journals of divergent political tone, such as the Dublin University Magazine, the Pilot, and the Nation; in the summer of 1848 he also wrote for the short-lived revolutionary papers, the Irish Felon and the Irish Tribune. This may account for the multiplicity of pseudonyms under which the pieces were published, including the inscrutable denominations ‘Z’, ‘Y’, and ‘F’; much of his work in the Nation (for which he is best known) was signed ‘J’ or ‘J. de Jean’. He earned his livelihood as a craftsman, apparently in very poor circumstances and in progressively weakening health. The numerous items of verse (and odd fragments of poetry) were written under great pressure.
It was said that he had in youth been sworn into an Orange lodge in Birr but recanted under the sway of O'Connellite euphoria sometime in the 1830s. An appeal in verse for the reconciliation of Orange and Green, produced for 12 July 1843, famously intoned: ‘Let the orange lily be thy badge, my patriot brother, the everlasting green for me; and we for one another’ (Read, 132). By 1844 he had converted to catholicism. This did not prevent his criticising, in a letter printed (October 1844) in the Nation, the narrow-minded dogmatism of a priest recently holding forth on the irreligion of Young Ireland. In 1845 he published Poems for the people, prefaced by a dedication ‘to the Irish people in admiration and honour of their enduring resistance of oppression’ (ibid,, 132). There is real gentleness and feeling in short passages of reminiscence on childhood pastimes around Birr, and pathos in the exclamation: ‘Would that I could idle now, in wooing back the withered flower of health into my wasted brow!’ (Read, 132). The militant political verse is mostly indistinguishable from much similar stuff of the period. In 1851 he published another compilation of verse, principally drawn from his near-weekly contributions to the Nation. In September–October 1851 he edited a short-lived Dublin paper named the Irish Trade's Advocate. He died 23 March 1852 at his lodgings in Jervis St., Dublin, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Glasnevin cemetery.
He was married and had at least two daughters, one of whom married the Fenian Thomas Clarke Luby (qv). His youngest daughter married the Fenian John Walsh (1842–82) of Baltracey, Co. Kildare; no other details of Fraser's marriage are known.