Show ContentsFairbanks History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the Fairbanks name begins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the family resided near a scenic hillside. The surname Fairbanks is derived from the Old English words fair, which means lovely, and bank, which means bank or hill. However, the first portion of the name may sometimes be derived from the Old English word faern, which means fern. [1]

Early Origins of the Fairbanks family

The surname Fairbanks was first found in Cumbria at Firbank, anciently Frithbank, a parish of Kirby Lonsdale in Westmorland. [2] [3] Historically part of Westmorland, this village and civil parish has always been relatively small with a population of 199 in the late 1800s and today less than one hundred people.

Early records show Robert Fairebank, son of Farebank in Yorkshire in 1583 [4] and Robert Firebancke, of Wennington, parish of Mellinge listed in the Lancashire Wills at Richmond in 1638. [3]

Early History of the Fairbanks family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fairbanks research. Another 48 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1594, 1668, 1633 and 1637 are included under the topic Early Fairbanks History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fairbanks Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Fairbanks include Fairbanks, Fairbank, Fairbankes, Firbank and many more.

Early Notables of the Fairbanks family (pre 1700)

Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fairbanks Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fairbanks Ranking

In the United States, the name Fairbanks is the 3,226th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [5]

United States Fairbanks migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Fairbanks or a variant listed above:

Fairbanks Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jonathan Fairbanks (1594-1668), English colonist from Halifax, Yorkshire who settled in Dedham Massachusetts in 1633
  • Jonathan Fairbanks, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1633 [6]
  • Richard Fairbanks, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1634 [6]
  • John Fairbanks, who arrived in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1642 [6]
  • John Fairbanks, who landed in Virginia in 1653 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Fairbanks Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mr. & Mrs. Fairbanks, who arrived in Boston in 1764
  • William Fairbanks, who arrived in Mississippi in 1798 [6]
Fairbanks Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Fairbanks, who arrived in New York in 1842
  • J. H Fairbanks, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [6]
  • J W Fairbanks, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [6]

Canada Fairbanks migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Fairbanks Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Joseph Fairbanks, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. Fairbanks, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mrs. Fairbanks, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750

Contemporary Notables of the name Fairbanks (post 1700) +

  • Douglas Stanley Fairbanks (1910-1981), American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1960; Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Wexford District, 1960; Candidate for Mayor of Cadillac, Michigan, 1961 [7]
  • Franklin Fairbanks (1828-1895), American businessman, politician and philanthropist, one of the founders and first trustees of Rollins College, President of Fairbanks Scales
  • William Fairbanks (1894-1945), born Carl Ullman, an American actor who appeared in over 65 silent era motion pictures between 1916 and 1928
  • Gerald Bertram "Jerry" Fairbanks (1904-1995), American Academy Award winning producer and director in the Hollywood
  • Avard Tennyson Fairbanks (1897-1987), American sculptor with three of his sculptures in the United States Capitol
  • Horace Fairbanks (1820-1888), American politician, 36th Governor of Vermont (1876 to 1878)
  • Erastus Fairbanks (1792-1864), American manufacturer, politician, a founder of the Republican Party, and the 21st and 26th Governor of Vermont
  • Chuck Fairbanks (1933-2013), American football player and head coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels
  • Thaddeus Fairbanks (1796-1886), American inventor, best known for his Fairbanks Scales
  • Ralph Jacobus Fairbanks (1857-1943), American prospector, entrepreneur and pioneer, eponym of several towns in the Death Valley, including Fairbanks Springs
  • ... (Another 30 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Fairbanks Motto +

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: Finem respice
Motto Translation: Consider the end.

  1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, March 16) . Retrieved from on Facebook