Playfair History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Playfair surname date back to the time of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It comes from an early member of the family who was a person known as a "companion" derived from a combination of the Middle English words "pley" meaning "sport" and "fere." A broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character. In Scotland, the name Playfair is often a variant of Playford.

Early Origins of the Playfair family

The surname Playfair was first found in Kent where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Early History of the Playfair family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Playfair research. Another 114 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1561, 1609 and 1608 are included under the topic Early Playfair History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Playfair Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Playfair has been spelled many different ways, including Playfair, Pleyfair, Playford and others.

Early Notables of the Playfair family (pre 1700)

Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Playfair Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Playfair migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Playfairs to arrive in North America:

Playfair Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Playfair, who settled in Virginia in 1722
Playfair Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Playfair, William Playfair, and Mary Playfair, who all arrived at the port of New York in 1820
  • Robert Haldane Playfair, who settled in Buenos Aires some time between the years 1836-1865

Canada Playfair migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Playfair Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Andrew Playfair, who settled in Canada in 1817

Contemporary Notables of the name Playfair (post 1700) +

  • Sir Nigel Ross Playfair (1874-1934), English actor-manager and producer
  • Wendy Playfair (b. 1926), Australian actress from Woollahra, New South Wales, known for her role in the television series Prisoner in 1983 and 1984
  • William Playfair (1759-1823), Scottish engineer and political economist, inventor of statistical graphics and served as a secret agent on behalf of Great Britain during its war with France
  • Andrew W. Playfair (1790-1868), Canadian politician, born in Paris, France, the son of William Playfair
  • Sir Hugh Playfair (1786-1816), Scottish-born, Indian officer and provost of St. Andrews, third son of Dr. James Playfair, born at Meigle, a village of East Perthshire
  • James Playfair (1738-1819), Scottish principal of St. Andrews, second son of George Playfair, a farmer of West Bendochy in Perthshire
  • John Playfair (1748-1819), Scottish mathematician, physicist and geologist
  • Guy Lyon Playfair (1935-2018), British writer best known for his books about parapsychology
  • Brigadier Cecil Homer Playfair, Canadian Deputy Director Medical Services II Canadian Corps [1]
  • Brigadier Thomas Alfred John Playfair (b. 1890), Commander Royal Artillery 2nd Australian Infantry Division [2]
  • ... (Another 10 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 3) Cecil Playfair. Retrieved from
  2. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, August 30) Thomas Playfair. Retrieved from on Facebook