Fairbirn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of England produced the name of Fairbirn. It was given to a person with attractive, youthful looks, or someone who was noted as having been a beautiful child. The surname Fairbirn is derived from the Old English words fair, which means lovely, and bearn, which means child. However, the name Fairbirn 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, Fairbirn belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Fairbirn family

The surname Fairbirn was 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]

Some of the first records of the family were Augustin and Robert Fayr(e)barn(e) who were listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Yorkshire in 1297. [3]

By the time of the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, spellings were quite varied: Johannes Fayrebame; Willelmus Fairebarn; and Robertus Fayrebarne were all listed there at that time as holding lands. [4]

In Scotland, the name literally means "beautiful child" [5] and the first record of the family was "Stephen Fairburn, burgess of Berwick on Tweed, [who] held the hostelry of the abbot and convent of Arbroath in Dundee c. 1327." [6]

Early History of the Fairbirn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fairbirn research. Another 166 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1297, 1327, 1644, 1680, 1742, 1685, 1686, 1688, 1690, 1692 and 1693 are included under the topic Early Fairbirn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fairbirn Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Fairbirn has appeared include Fairbairn, Fairbairns, Fairbarn, Fairborn, Fairborne and many more.

Early Notables of the Fairbirn family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Andrew Fairbairn; and Sir Palmes Fairborne (1644-1680), an English soldier and Governor of Tangier. He was "the son of Colonel Stafford Fairborne of Newark, and probably related to the Yorkshire family of that name." [7] Sir Stafford Fairborne (d. 1742), was Admiral of the fleet and the eldest son of Sir Palmes Fairborne. "In June 1685 Stafford was lieutenant of the Bonadventure at Tangiers, and during the illness of his captain commanded the ship in a successful encounter with some Sallee vessels at Mamora. On 12 July 1686 he was...
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fairbirn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Fairbirn family

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Fairbirn arrived in North America very early: Robert Fairbarn landed in 1763. William Fairbarn joined many of his fellow Fairbarns when he purchased land in Philadelphia in 1835.



The Fairbirn 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: Nec cede arduis
Motto Translation: Not high yield


  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)
  3. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  6. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  7. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print


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