William Fairbairn (m. WANLESS)1

(Apr 1790 - 6 Feb 1872)
FatherWilliam Fairbairn1 (circa 1760 - 1809)
MotherAylsie Elliott2 (1767 - 1827)


     Although William was supposedly born Scotland to William FAIRBAIRN & Ayslie ELLIOT, this baptism is yet to be found, as is any trace of a couple of this name.
Another candidate is the William baptised over the border in Wooler, William to William and Ann (BROWN) FAIRBAIRN, which parish coincides with the baptism of eldest son Archibald in Wooler (as well as in Yetholm.)3


     William Fairbairn was born in Apr 1790 SCT Roy advises that census records all say born Scotland, and that burial record has William Fairbairn Wakefield Quebec d- 6 b- 8 Feb 1872 in his 82nd year,so 1790 Scotland seems to be accurate. The April comes from Reby's death date, which, although it has the incorrect year, would fit with William not yet being 82 when he died in Feb.4,5,6 He married Jean Wanless, daughter of John Wanless and Eleanor Willis, on 25 Dec 1813 Yetholm, Par. of Yetholm, ROX, SCT; Entry for Dec 25th 1813 reads: William Fairbairn parish of Alderton, & Jean Wanless of this parish were married irregularly. Janry 9th 1814 confirmed by the Session."1,4,7
     William Fairbairn died on 6 Feb 1872 Wakefield, QUE, CAN, at age 81; NB this contradicts a previously published (by Reby DODDS) date of Apr 1867. Reby both wrote the book and erected the tombstone, but William's burial record clearly places his death in 1872.8 He was buried with Jean Wanless Hall's Cem., Wakefield, Ottawa Co., QUE, CAN, Tombstone: "In honored memory of the pioneer William Fairbairn, millwright, and his wife Jean Wanless, nurse of Roxburghshire, Scotland 1790-1867 - They builded better than they knew who builded for posterity."
Burial Cert (from Gordon Roy): Jean (Jane) Fairbairn (Wanless) Wakefield Quebec d-3 Jun b- 5 Jun 1868 aged 78 years 21 days and signed by her husband William Fairbairn.9,8,10
"William Fairbairn, a Scot from Roxburghshire and a millwright by trade, came to Canada in 1820. (actually a little earlier than that) With his mason's skills, he found ready employment in the construction of locks on the Rideau Canal. In 1838, Fairbairn asked permission to establish a mill on the 'petite riviere Lapeche'. There was no grist mill within sixty kilometres of the farming community in the new township. The substantial waterfall on the Lapeche was a perfect site. It was two kilometeres south to the farm Fairbairn had established four years previously on the Gatineau River."11,12

     John Fairbairn is likely to be the family patriarch for the families of Archibald? Fairbairn, Robert Fairbairn, Archibald Fairbairn, Archibald Fairbairn, William Fairbairn (m. WANLESS), John Fairbairn and William Fairbairn.
The Archibald with the ? after his name has to have existed, as the Fairbairn Surname DNA project provided a DNA match between a descendant of Archibald Fairbairn and Alison Crosser, likely first son Archibald born Whitsome, Berwickshire, and a descendant of Archibald and Mary Grierson/Giessen's, son George, baptised Bowden, Roxburghshire. These two families are contemporaries in time and fairly close by place.
The name Archibald? is assigned as father of the Archibald who married Alison Crosser from my assumption that the 1783 baptism of an Archibald to an Archibald, hynd of Whitsome Vaults, is their likely eldest child.
Prompted by this unexpected success I researched the other Archibald and have now convinced myself that his father was Robert, and grandfather John (marr. Bessie fflint), this all being from both naming patterns of the children, and the baptisms being in the right area and timeframe as there are no convenient wills left around for us to find. The extended family also end up in all the right places (Smailholm and Kelso). There's even an Archibald as a witness to one of the baptisms, and a Thomas Anderson.

My calcs are that a grandfather to the two known to exist Archibalds would cover 8 generations in total, between the matching y_DNA candidates. This agrees with the 90% probability calculations from FamilyTree DNA's y_DNA calculations (95% that it was no more than 10).
This seemed good enough reason to join the families up in this way, it may however be a generation, or two, further back - until we also factor in the growing number of autosomal dna matches bewteen the two lines.

An additional line joined this extended Fairbairn family with an unexpected match between these Archibalds and a descendant of William Fairbairn and Jean Wanless, who had emigrated to Quebec. This 67/67 match between a descendant of the Archibald who married Mary Grierson, and a descendant of William Fairbairn and Jean Wanless. and the 64/67 match between the Crosser line and these two lines has led me to join up the families as per the linked charts.
You can read about this research journey on my personal Fairbairns page.13,14,15,16


     William Fairbairn appeared on the census of 1852 Wakefield, Ottawa Co., QUE, CAN, with Jean Fairbairn, enumerated as FAIRBURN: Willm, carpenter, 60; Jane 62, both b Scotland; Willim Jnr, labourer, 24, Mary 20, both b Canada; All Presbyterian (no date on page, or first page, census not completed until 1852, often known as "the census of 1852."17,18
     William Fairbairn appeared on the census of 1861 Wakefield, Ottawa Co., QUE, with Jean Fairbairn, enumerated as FAIRBURN: William 69 farmer; wife Jane 71 both b SCT; Willm 30 farmer b U.C; wife Martha Jane 25 b Ireland; William 7, Mary Anne 5, Martha Jane 3, James 1 (born 1860), all b L.C; Ellen 37 "wife of John Fairn b SCT; Frances 13, William 11, Jane 9 all b L.C. All Presb. F.C. Living in a "tide? log" building, 3 families, 1 hse being built.19,20
William Fairbairn appeared on the census of 1871 Wakefield, Ottawa Co., QUE, in the household of William Fairbairn and Martha Jane Fairbairn.21

DNA Info

     William belongs to a tested line in the FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project. Follow this link for supplementary DNA information.


     Click here to see William's page on WikiTree, a (free) collaborative on-line tree.22


     William Fairbairn (m. WANLESS) is the ancestor of researcher Roy Fairbairn. Email: Lorna, contact for the late Roy.1
     William Fairbairn (m. WANLESS) is the ancestor of researcher Reby Gladys Johnston. Reby being the author of Whos Which.


Jean Wanless (circa May 1790 - Jun 1867)
  • Archibald Fairbairn (Feb 1815 - Sep 1883)
  • John Fairbairn4 (Jul 1819 - Dec 1909)
  • Helen Fairbairn (Jun 1821 - Apr 1902)
  • George Fairbairn (Dec 1823 - Mar 1907)
  • William Fairbairn (1826 - Mar 1907)
  • Frances Fairbairn (Jan 1829 - Apr 1915)
  • Aylsie Fairbairn (Jan 1829 - 1866)
  • Mary Fairbairn (Oct 1831 - )
ChartsLineage 1e: John & Bessie (fflint) FAIRBAIRN
Last Edited5 Dec 2016


  1. [S1038] G Roy & Pat FAIRBAIRN, "Corres. FAIRBAIRN/WANLESS, Quebec ex G Roy & Pat F.," e-mail to Lorna Henderson, Feb 1996.
  2. [S1960] Sanna F Ross (Gaffney), "EM FAIRBAIRN: Borders ex Sanna G," e-mail to Lorna & GenForum FAIRBAIRN, Rcvd c 2000?
  3. [S1597] FamilySearch Labs Record Search (LDS) online at http://search.labs.familysearch.org/recordsearch/, Birth 4th Feb Bap. 15 Feb 1815 Archibald s/o William & Jane FAIRBAIRN, WUnited Presb. Cheviot St, N(on) C(onformist), Wooler, NBL, from England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 batch P00454-1 film 87986, re-checked Mar 2012.
  4. [S1062] Letter, Janis ULSTEIN to (1), Jun 1996.
  5. [S1038] G Roy & Pat FAIRBAIRN, "Corres. FAIRBAIRN/WANLESS, Quebec ex G Roy & Pat F.," e-mail to Lorna Henderson, Jan 2003.
  6. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Apr 2009.
  7. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854), http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/index.php, Marr. 25 Dec 1813 William FAIRBAIRN (Par. of Alderton) & Jean WANLESS (Yetholm), Yetholm Dist 811, copy d/loaded Mar 2008.
  8. [S1038] G Roy & Pat FAIRBAIRN, "Corres. FAIRBAIRN/WANLESS, Quebec ex G Roy & Pat F.," e-mail to Lorna Henderson, Bur. William FAIRBAIRN (8 Feb 1872) Jean WANLESS (Jun 1868), Hall's Cem, Wakefield, rcvd Jan 2003.
  9. [S1062] Letter, Janis ULSTEIN to (1), From web page ex Who's Which (http://www.riverduck.com/wanlessweb/riddell/D4.htm#g4) extracted Jan 2003.
  10. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) William FAIRBAIRN (1790-1867), from H/stone Halls Cem, sth of Wakefield, QUE, online at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~snaylor/…, extracted Sep 2009.
  11. [S1700] Sue STEVENSON, "EM FAIRBAIRN/WANLESS ex Sue S," e-mail to L McIntosh, From Descendant List for Wm F/Jean WANLESS rcvd Jan 2003 Sourced from Wakefield and its People - Tours of the Village by Norma GEGGIE.
  12. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) Wakefield Mill and Village, (with c 1860 painting of mill), from http://outaouais.quebecheritageweb.com/article_details.aspx, extracted Mar 2008.
  13. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Dec 2007, updated Jan 2015.
  14. [S2656] FamilyTree DNA, "FamilyTree DNA", FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project, 36/37 marker match between descendants of two contemporary (time and place) Archibald FAIRBAIRNs, Dec 2007.
  15. [S2656] FamilyTree DNA, "FamilyTree DNA", FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project, 37/37 marker match between descendants of Archibald FAIRBAIRN & Mary GRIERSON, and of William FAIRBAIRN & Jean WANLESS, Mar 2008.
  16. [S14] FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project online at http://worldfamilies.net/surnames/fairbairn/results.html, 67 marker results for the three matching participants, rcvd Apr 2008.
  17. [S809] Census image, Canada, via Ancestry.com, 1851 Wakefield, Ottawa Cty, Canada East (Quebec), Dist 20, Sub Dist 278 Pg 15 Roll: C_1132 Sched A, from the Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, via ancestry.com, hsehold of William & Jane FAIRBAIRN, extracted Aug 2007.
  18. [S1127] "BFHS Magazine", 1851/2 Census: Willm Jane FAIRBURN, Wakefield, QUE, from Article by Gordon Roy FAIRBAIRN "A Tale of Two Sisters" Issue #49 Jun 2002 extracted Jan 2003.
  19. [S1127] "BFHS Magazine", 1861 Census, CAN, hsehold of William & Jean FAIRBAIRN, Article by Gordon Roy FAIRBAIRN "A Tale of Two Sisters" Issue #49 Jun 2002 extracted Jan 2003.
  20. [S403] 1861 Census images, Canada, via Ancestry, Ottawa, Quebec; Roll: C-1304, hsehold of William & Jane FAIRBURN, extracted Aug 2009.
  21. [S809] Census image, Canada, via Ancestry.com, 1871 Wakefield, Ottawa West, Ontario; Roll: C-10027; Family No: 28, hsehold of William Jr & Martha Jane FAIRBERN, extracted Aug 2009.
  22. [S3217] WikiTree online at http://WikiTree.com/, Added May 2014.
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