Show ContentsFairless History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Fairless family

The surname Fairless was first found in North Ayrshire at Fairlie, a village on the eastern shore of the Firth of Clyde and looks across to the Isle of Arran and the Cumbraes.

The Norman knight Sir Richard de Morville was appointed by King David I of Scotland (1084-1153) to hold land in Scotland. He became High Constable of Scotland and Lord of Cunninghame, Largs and Lauderdale. This land was later subdivided and by the 13th century, the land of Fairlie was held by the de Ros (or Ross) family of Tarbert.

One of the sons of the Ross family who built the Castle and adopted the name Fairlie. Fairlie Castle which survived until the 1840s is now in ruins. It lies in Fairlie Glen near the town of Fairlie in the old Barony of Fairlie, Parish of Largs, North Ayrshire. One source claims that Sir Robert Fairlie of that Ilk built the present castle in 1521. By design, it was a tower castle without a motte or a bailey and had four storeys. The walls were about 1.6m (5.25 feet) thick.

"Of Fairlie Castle, a strong square building, said to have belonged to Hardicanute, the walls are still entire; and near it, but in West Kilbride parish, are remains of an ancient chapel round which are some fine old trees." [1]

One of the first records of the name was William de Fairlie who was granted a pardon by Edward III at Berwick in 1335 "for all the crimes committed by him in the war with England." [2]

Another author states "It is rather remarkable that so few notices of this family are to be found, and that such as exist are of such a disconnected and fragmentary nature."

Alternatively, the name could have originated in England. Farleigh-Hungerford is a parish, in the union of Frome, hundred of Wellow, E. division of Somerset and East Fairleigh is a parish, in the union and hundred of Maidstone, lathe of Aylesford, W. division of Kent. West Fairleigh can be found nearby. [1] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list Hugh de Farleye as living there at that time. [3]

As far as the meaning of the name: "one who came from Fairlee (beautiful glade), in Wight, or from Fairley (fern clearing), in Shropshire." [4]

Early History of the Fairless family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fairless research. Another 195 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1274, 1329, 1342 and 1335 are included under the topic Early Fairless History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fairless Spelling Variations

The name, Fairless, occurred in many references, and from time to time, it was spelt Fairley, Fairlie, Fayrle, Farle, Farnley, Farnlie, Farnly, Ferle, Ffarly, Farnlye, Farinley, Farinle, Farinlee, Farinlea, Farinleigh, Farnleigh, Fairleigh, Fayrleigh, Fairie, Fairy, Farie and many more.

Early Notables of the Fairless family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Fairless family

The New World beckoned settlers from the Scottish-English borders. They sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. Some called them, less romantically, the "coffin ships." Among the early settlers bearing the Fairless surname who came to North America were: Ann Fairley made the journey in 1730 and landed in Maryland. Later family members made their homes in Philadelphia and the state of Delaware.

Contemporary Notables of the name Fairless (post 1700) +

  • Benjamin Franklin Fairless (1890-1962), American steel company executive, recipient of the Medal for Merit in 1946
  • Thomas Kerr Fairless (1825-1853), English landscape painter from Hexham, Northumberland [5]
  • Jack Fairless, English manager of the football club Darlington from 1928-1933
  • Major-General George Fairless Lull (1887-1976), American Deputy Surgeon-General US Army (1943-1946) [6]

The Fairless 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: Paratus sum
Motto Translation: I am prepared.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. 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)
  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. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  5. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  6. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, April 2) George Lull. Retrieved from on Facebook