John Fairbairn1,2

(circa 1772 - 25 Jul 1824)
FatherJames Fairbairn (m. Elizabeth PURVES) (circa Jan 1722 - Oct 1808); It should be noted that Burke's Colonial Gentry shows different parents for John. An uncorroborated extract from Burke's Colonial Gentry, (1970) shows John's parents as Patrick and Margaret (Purves) Fairbairn, which I strongly suspect is a mixture of Jessie's parents and John's, given Jessie's death cert. shows hers as a Patrick and Margaret (Johnston) Johnston. The cousinships stated in the Rev John's 1895 obituary do rather make those shown here more likely3,4,5
MotherElizabeth Purves6,4 (circa 1732 - Mar 1808)


     The DNA project shows that descendants of this line are very close to the modal values for all of the matching Scottish Borders FAIRBAIRNs in Lineage 1, which rather indicates this is a key lineage for the surname, at least on the Scottish Borders. Closest matches are to an ELLIOTT and an IRWIN, both of whom match our FAIRBAIRNs rather than their respective IRWIN and ELLIOTT projects. Closest to the modal is the representative from the family of James and Agnes (LINDSAY), and next closest are the representatives of the Sunderland family of Robert and Elizabeth (TAYLOR) FAIRBAIRN.7


     John Fairbairn was born circa 1772 ?Greenlaw, BEW, SCT, Baptism not (yet?) found to either a James or a Patrick in likely timeframes and places. nearest John is 1769 to John and Elizabeth (CARSE) Swinton & Simprim but there at least 2 better contenders for this John.8,9,10,3
     John Fairbairn married Jessie Johnston, daughter of Patrick Johnston and Margaret Johnston, on 9 Dec 1802 Edrom, BEW, SCT, IGI has 27 Nov (Greenlaw), 9 Dec (Edrom); The Edrom entry reads: John Fairbairn in the Parish of Greenlaw and Jessy Johnston in this Parish were married.9,1,11,12,13
     John Fairbairn died on 25 Jul 1824 Hallyburton, Par. of Greenlaw, BEW, SCT; aged 52.13,14,10,15,16 He was buried with Jessie Johnston Greenlaw, Par. of Greenlaw, BEW, SCT, H/stone #106: Erected imo John FAIRBAIRN tenant in Hallyburton who died 25.7.1824 aged 52 years. Also Mary WILSON wife of the Rev. John FAIRBAIRN Minister of the Free Church Greenlaw who died 13.7.1843 aged 30 years. Also Jessie JOHNSTON relict of John FAIRBAIRN tenant in Hallyburton who died 24.9.1861 aged 80 years
There's a matching burial entry 28th Jul 1824 in the Greenlaw OPR: Mr John Fairbairn, Halliburton (with no fee paid beside it, nor the comment "gratis" as on a couple of other entries on the page).13,14
"The villagers of Bedshiel obtained a 21 year lease in 1782 to harvest peat moss. They became known as the "Peat Lairds" of Bedshiel. A verbal renewal was made for a further seven years. In 1814 John FAIRBAIRN,farmer of Halyburton unsuccessfully "...sought to interdict the casting of peats from the moss, as injurious to his interests". John renounced the lease in 1819." (quoting Daniel GOONAN, Beechworth)
See also William of Bedshiels.17,18

From An Old Berwickshire Town: History of the Town and Parish of Greenlaw, from ... (1905) p196 ff:
Mr Inglis was succeeded by Mr James Young, who was ordained in 1834. During his pastorate — in December 1839 — the congregation joined the Established Church.
Mr Young's stipend was £6o. He resigned his charge in 1841, and shortly afterwards was appointed to a station in Berbicia Demerara. He subsequently returned to Scotland.

In 1842, the congregation called the Rev. John Fairbairn, from Ramsay, Canada West, on the faith of hearing his brother Patrick, then of Salton, afterwards Principal of Glasgow Free Church College, He was inducted in the July of the same year.

The congregation with their minister came out at the Disruption, and joining the denomination which was formed, became the Free Church congregation of the place. Under Mr Fairbairn's ministry the present church and manse were built. The Free Church School was also established, all these being in great measure owing to his liberality and exertions.

In 1883 Mr Fairbairn attained his jubilee, which was celebrated by special services. He removed to Edinburgh in 1891, and he died at Dunbar (to which place he had gone to spend the winter), on the 3rd of April 1895, aged 87 years. He was buried in Greenlaw churchyard. A marble tablet to his memory was placed in the vestibule of the church, by present and past members of the congregation and friends.

Mr Fairbairn was born at Halyburton, parish of Greenlaw, in 1808, being the second son of John Fairbairn, farmer, and of Jessie Johnston, of the Johnstons, farmers, Middlestots. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Cupar, in whose bounds he was at the time residing. He went to Canada in 1833, soon after receiving license, and was settled at Ramsay, from which place he was called to Greenlaw.

Mr Fairbairn was twice married, first to Mary Wilson, daughter of Mr Wilson of Campbell Field, Glasgow, and secondly to Agnes Turnbll, sister of the Rev. John Turnbull, Free Church minister of Eyemouth.
He had one son by his first marriage, John, who emigrated to Queensland, and was in business at Rockhampton.

Rev. Alexander Cameron, M.A. — In November 1875, Rev. Alexander Cameron, M.A., was ordained colleague and successor to Mr Fairbairn, succeeding to the sole charge on the death of Mr Fairbairn.19

DNA Info

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


Jessie Johnston (circa Oct 1781 - Aug 1861)
ChartsLineage 1a2: John & Magdalen (BO) FAIRBAIRN
Last Edited27 Mar 2012


  1. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) GenForum Apr 2001 ex Daniel Felix GOONAN.
  2. [S888] FAIRBAIRN, International Genealogical Index (IGI).
  3. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) John s/o Patrick FAIRBAIRN and Margaret PURVIS, posted online by Darryl Lundy at, quoting Sir Bernard Burke, A genealogical and heraldic history of the colonial gentry (London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1970), volume II, page 676, extracted May 2009.
  4. [S1918] Newspaper clippings, Obit 1 Jun 1895 Rev John FAIRBAIRN, Greenlaw, from "The Free Chrch of Scotland Monthly" (Edinburgh, Scotland) pg 143 "Empire", copy d/loaded Sep 2010.
  5. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Sep - Dec 2010.
  6. [S1] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Conclusions", Sep 2010.
  7. [S14] FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project online at, May 2009.
  8. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) GenForum Apr 2001 ex Daniel Felix GOONAN Email: e-mail address.
  9. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Marr. 9 Dec 1802 John FAIRBAIRN & Jessy JOHNSTON, Edrom, BEW Par. 738/0010 0207, copy d/loaded Jan 2009.
  10. [S1956] Robert S.McCutcheon, "EM Borders/CAI Corres:McCUTCHEON," e-mail to (1), ex Greenlaw MIs Apr 2001.
  11. [S1960] Sanna F Ross (Gaffney), "EM FAIRBAIRN: Borders ex Sanna G," e-mail to Lorna & GenForum FAIRBAIRN, John FAIRBARIN/Jessie JOHNSTONE, file rcvd Jan 2003, , extracted Dec 2007.
  12. [S888] FAIRBAIRN, International Genealogical Index (IGI), Marr. 1802: 27 Nov (Greenlaw), 9 Dec (Edrom)John FAIRBAIRN & Jessie JOHNSTONE, extracted c 1993/4.
  13. [S2849] Elspeth Ewan, MIs: BEW Greenlaw, H/stone #106 commemmorating John FAIRBAIRN, Jessie JOHNSTON, Mary WILSON, extracted May 2009.
  14. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Burial 28 Jul 1824 Mr John FAIRBAIRN, Hallyburton, Greenlaw OPR Deaths 743/00 0160, copy d/loaded May 2009.
  15. [S201] 1841 Census transcripts, Scotland, via, Greenlaw BEW Par 743 ED 2 hsehold of Jessie FAIRBAIRN, extracted Apr 2008.
  16. [S333] GRO, SCT, BDM searches at GRO SCT: Dth 5 Feb 1863 James s/o John FAIRBAIRN & Jessie JOHNSTONE, Chalkheugh Tce, Kelso, ROX, transcr. by Stuart H, rcvd Jun 1999.
  17. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) Peat Lairds of Bedsheill, from the FamNet tree of pat1, eddorean.ged, online at, quoting Daniel GOONAN, Beechworth, extracted Oct 2010.
  18. [S2868] Google Books online at, Bedshiel Moss 1814: from p122 & p249 of "An Old Berwickshire Town: History of the Town and Parish of Greenlaw, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day" By Robert Gibson, extracted Oct 2010.
  19. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) Rev John FAIRBAIRN of Greenlaw, from An Old Berwickshire Town: History of the Town and Parish of Greenlaw, from ... (1905), online at, extracted Dec 2009.
  20. [S1960] Sanna F Ross (Gaffney), "EM FAIRBAIRN: Borders ex Sanna G," e-mail to Lorna & GenForum FAIRBAIRN, Jan 2003.
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