Fairlie History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Fairlie family

The surname Fairlie 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 Fairlie family

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

Fairlie Spelling Variations

During the era when a person's name, tribe and posterity was one of his most important possessions, many different spellings were found in the archives examined. Fairlie occurred in many references, and spelling variations of the name found included 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 Fairlie family (pre 1700)

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


United States Fairlie migration to the United States +

Gradually becoming disenchanted with life in Ireland many of these uprooted families sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships often arrived with only 60 to 70% of their original passenger list, many dying of illness and the elements, were buried at sea. In North America, early immigrants bearing the family name Fairlie, or a spelling variation of the surname include:

Fairlie Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Ann Fairlie, who arrived in Cape Fear, North Carolina in 1772 [5]
  • John Fairlie, who arrived in Cape Fear, North Carolina in 1772 [5]
  • Alexander Fairlie, who landed in Cape Fear, North Carolina in 1772 [5]
  • Archibald Fairlie, who landed in Cape Fear, North Carolina in 1772 [5]
  • Robert Fairlie, who landed in Cape Fear, North Carolina in 1772 [5]

Canada Fairlie migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Fairlie Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Fairlie, aged 28, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Silestria" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Jane Fairlie, aged 21, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Silestria" from Belfast, Ireland
  • John Fairlie, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1848

Australia Fairlie migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Fairlie Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Simon Fairlie, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lord Goderich" in 1838 [6]
  • James Fairlie, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Siam" in 1841 [7]

New Zealand Fairlie 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:

Fairlie Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Fairlie, aged 28, a miner, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874
  • Janet Fairlie, aged 26, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874
  • Agnes Fairlie, aged 6, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874
  • Robert Fairlie, aged 3, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Fairlie (post 1700) +

  • Robert Francis Fairlie (1831-1885), Scottish railway engineer, best known for inventing the Fairlie double-bogie articulated locomotive in 1864 [8]
  • John Archibald Fairlie (1872-1947), Scottish-born, American political scientist
  • Margaret Fairlie (1891-1963), Scottish academic and gynaecologist, Scotland's First Female Professor in 1936
  • James "Jamie" Fairlie (b. 1957), former Scottish footballer
  • Andrew Fairlie, Scottish chef and founder of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie in Perthshire
  • Andrew Fairlie (b. 1963), Scottish actor from Broxburn, West Lothian
  • Reginald Francis Joseph Fairlie FRSE FRIAS FRIBA RSA (1883-1952), Scottish architect, Commissioner of RCAHMS and on the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland
  • Henry Jones Fairlie (1924-1990), British political journalist and social critic, best known for his book The Kennedy Promise
  • Francis Gerard Luis Fairlie (1899-1983), English author and scriptwriter, best known for his Bulldog Drummond series
  • Kristin Fairlie (b. 1985), Canadian Young Artist Award winning actress
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Percy W Fairlie (b. 1920), English Stoker 1st Class serving for the Royal Navy from Deptford, London, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [9]


The Fairlie 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. ^ 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)
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LORD GODERICH 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838LordGoderich.htm
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) SIAM 1841 - Captain Salmon. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1841Siam.gif
  8. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  9. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm


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