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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Fairbairn family come from? What is the English Fairbairn family crest and coat of arms? When did the Fairbairn family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Fairbairn family history?

The ancestors of the Fairbairn family lived among the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Fairbairn was a name given to a person with attractive, youthful looks, or someone who was noted as having been a beautiful child. The surname Fairbairn is derived from the Old English words fair, which means lovely, and bearn, which means child. However, the name Fairbairn may also be a local surname applied to someone from the settlement of Fairbourne in Kent or Fairburn in the West Riding of Yorkshire. In this case, Fairbairn belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.


Fairbairn has been spelled many different ways, including Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Fairbairn, Fairbairns, Fairbarn, Fairborn, Fairborne and many more.

First found in North Yorkshire at Fairburn, a small village and civil parish in the Selby district that dates back to before the Domesday Book when it was listed as Fareburne c. 1030. A few years later in 1086, the Domesday Book lists the placename as Fareburne [1] and literally meant "stream where ferns grow," having derived from the Old English fearn + burna. [2]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fairbairn research. Another 331 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1297, 1327, 1644 and 1680 are included under the topic Early Fairbairn History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fairbairn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Fairbairns to arrive on North American shores:

Fairbairn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Andrew Fairbairn, aged 32, who emigrated to the United States from Newcastle, in 1899

Fairbairn Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Alexander Fairbairn, aged 53, who landed in America from London, in 1903
  • Florence Fairbairn, aged 22, who emigrated to the United States from Tyrone, in 1907
  • Andrew Dodds Fairbairn, aged 47, who landed in America from London, England, in 1907
  • Adelaine Fairbairn, aged 20, who landed in America from Omagh, Ireland, in 1908
  • Charles Stewart Fairbairn, aged 19, who landed in America from Thornton, England, in 1908

Fairbairn Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • George Fairbairn arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince George" in 1838


  • Sir David Eric Fairbairn KBE, DFC (1917-1994), English-born, Australian politician and cabinet minister
  • James Valentine Fairbairn (1897-1940), English-born, Australian aviator, politician and cabinet minister
  • John T Fairbairn, English political journalist, author and translator
  • Mr. William John Fairbairn, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales May 1941 and died at the battle of Denmark Strait, before the sinking of the HMS Prince of Wales
  • Joyce Fairbairn PC (b. 1939), Canadian senator, the first woman to serve as Leader of the Government in the Senate
  • Sir Nicholas "Nicky" Hardwick Fairbairn QC (1933-1995), Scottish politician
  • David Fairbairn (b. 1949), Australian painter and printmaker, winner of the Dobell Prize for Drawing in 1999
  • Stephen Ian Fairbairn (1896-1968), British financier and rower in the 1924 Summer Olympics
  • Patrick Fairbairn (1805-1874), Scottish minister and theologian
  • William Ronald Dodds Fairbairn (1889-1964), Scottish psychiatrist, psychoanalyst



  • Down the Century from 1800 by Esther V.H. Cline.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Nec cede arduis
Motto Translation: Not high yield


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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)

Other References

  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  6. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  7. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  8. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  10. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  11. ...

The Fairbairn Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Fairbairn Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 8 August 2015 at 16:18.

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