Fairbourn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Fairbourn is rooted in the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It was a name for someone who was a person with attractive, youthful looks, or someone who was noted as having been a beautiful child. The surname Fairbourn is derived from the Old English words fair, which means lovely, and bearn, which means child. However, the name Fairbourn 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, Fairbourn 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 Fairbourn family

The surname Fairbourn 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 Fairbourn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fairbourn 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 Fairbourn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fairbourn Spelling Variations

Fairbourn has been spelled many different ways. 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. Many variations of the name Fairbourn have been found, including Fairbairn, Fairbairns, Fairbarn, Fairborn, Fairborne and many more.

Early Notables of the Fairbourn 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 Fairbourn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Fairbourn migration to the United States +

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 Fairbourns to arrive on North American shores:

Fairbourn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Fairbourn, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838 [8]

New Zealand Fairbourn migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Fairbourn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Fairbourn, (b. 1832), aged 32, British carpenter travelling aboard the ship "Amoor" arriving in Lyttleton, South Island, New Zealand on 1st July 1864 [9]
  • Mrs. Frances Fairbourn, (b. 1833), aged 31, British settler travelling aboard the ship "Amoor" arriving in Lyttleton, South Island, New Zealand on 1st July 1864 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Fairbourn (post 1700) +

  • Camille Fairbourn, American statistics professor at Utah State University


The Fairbourn 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
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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