Fairburn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Fairburn is a name of Anglo-Saxon origin. It was a name given to a person with attractive, youthful looks, or someone who was noted as having been a beautiful child. The surname Fairburn is derived from the Old English words fair, which means lovely, and bearn, which means child. However, the name Fairburn 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, Fairburn 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 Fairburn family

The surname Fairburn 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]

Important Dates for the Fairburn family

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

Fairburn Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Fairburn were recorded, including Fairbairn, Fairbairns, Fairbarn, Fairborn, Fairborne and many more.

Early Notables of the Fairburn family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Fairburn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fairburn 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:

Fairburn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • E Fairburn, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1827
  • R Fairburn, who landed in Thames, New Zealand in 1836
  • W T Fairburn, who landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1836
  • John Fairburn, who landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1840
  • Thomas Fairburn, who landed in Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Fairburn (post 1700)

  • William Armstrong Fairburn (1876-1947), American author, naval architect, marine engineer, industrial executive, and chemist
  • Charles Edward Fairburn (1887-1945), English electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work in rail transport and for his design of the Fairburn Tank 2-6-4T steam locomotives
  • Arthur Rex Dugard "Rex" Fairburn (1904-1957), New Zealand poet
  • Harold Fairburn CMG, KPM (1884-1973), British Inspector General of the Straits Settlements Police in Singapore from 1925 to 1935


  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)
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