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." CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
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." CITATION[CLOSE]
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)
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. CITATION[CLOSE]
Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list Hugh de Farleye as living there at that time. CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
As far as the meaning of the name: "one who came from Fairlee (beautiful glade), in Wight, or from Fairley (fern clearing), in Shropshire." CITATION[CLOSE]
Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
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