John Fairbairn (m. Agnes GIBSON)1

(circa 1720 - 7 Dec 1792)
FatherJames Fairbairn2 (say 1700 - )
MotherMargaret Henderson2


     The family shown here has been revised from earlier versions, and is based around an earlier, much more complete transcription of a key headstone in Earlstone with thanks to Barbara, Research Officer of the Borders Family History Society, Galashiels (see below for older and newer transcriptions).

Death certificates confirm that the Agnes and Helen mentioned were daughters of John FAIRBAIRN and Jane ROMANIS.
Census data places this latter John at Grizzlefield, Earlston in 1841 as an 80 yr old, with (son) John Jr (on neighbouring stone).
The earlier headstone reading confirms the suspicion that John married to Jane Romanis would have to be born around 1760s instead of that shown on the later transcription.
And handily adds names for his grandparents.
Which also meant the prior info of this being the John born Lidgatehead baptized in 1712 assigned to the family of James Fairbairn and Magdalen Bo has also been revised.3,4,5


     John Fairbairn (m. Agnes GIBSON) was born circa 1720 ?Fans, Par. of Earlston, BEW, SCT.6
     John Fairbairn married Agnes Gibson on 28 Feb 1749 Legerwood, BEW, SCT, entry reads: Married John Fairbairn in the parish of Earlstoun and Agnes Gibson in this parish Testificates of proclamations produced from Earlstoun.1
     John Fairbairn died on 7 Dec 1792 West Morriston, Par. of Legerwood, BEW, SCT.6,4,7
The revised headstone transcription from an earlier date when it was more legible shows Agnes died aged 37 in "1762?".
The headstone states John and Agnes had a son John (tenant in Westmoriston, married to Jane Romanis) and also implies they had a son William who died aged 9, and a daughter Margaret at age 53. By naming pattern there is likely a James in there somewhere as well given John's parents were shown as James Fairbairn, tenant in Fans and Margaret Henderson.

With a gap between the 1749 marriage for John and Agnes and a John (married to Jane Romanis) born about 1760 there were likely baptisms to be found.
The family previously allocated to John and Agnes: John 1760, Isabel 1761, Agnes 1763 James 1765 and Rachel 1766, although apparently invalldated by Agnes' supposed death date of 1762 all belong to a John, miller at Mellerstain, with Isabel predating Agnes' death, so needed shifting to a different family group.
In addition an Isabel baptized in Nov 1761 is also unlikely to belong to the same family of the John (married to Jane Romanis), who was baptized Dec 1761 to a John tenant in Ligerwood.
These tenants and milllers are prrobably all related but this also does rather indicate a separate famlly group (still looking for a home for them, Dec 2022)

This set of baptisms exist in the Earlston and Legerwood OPRs has now been assigned to John and Agnes (Gibson):
1750 James, father John "tennant in ffans"
1753 Margaret, father John "tennant in Netherthird of Ligerwood"
1757 William father John "tennant in Ligerwood"
1761 John father John "tennant in Ligerwood"
1767 Agnes father John "tennant in Westmorriston"
as it provides a James, along with highly likely baptisms for the Margaret, William and John on the headstone.8,9
Disambiguation: some trees have the James son of John and Agnes (GIBSON) as the one died Smailholm 1841 after that census, but he was married to a Margaret TAIT, and is more likely to be the son of the John FAIRBAIRN at Girnick, Smailholm in 1797, given the naming pattern of John and Margaret's children.
James and Margaret (TAIT) are buried at Earlston near John and Agnes (GIBSON), so there is highly likely to be a connection, particularly as Margaret's mother was a Mary FAIRBAIRN.

With the Earlston headstones all in a row, it does seem highly likely that there is a connection between these families.
I'm comfortable however that the Girnick Smailholm James belongs to John and Elspeth (ANDERSON), and as they are each contemporaries, any relationship has to be at least two generations further back.

Although "of Legerwood" when James married Isabel Tait, it was also possible, given the miller connections amongst his descendants, that James is the 1765 baptism to John, miller at Mellerstain Mill in 1765, but the ages of the two James don't match up (James m. Isabel Tait born 1765, James son of John & Agnes (Gibson) Fairbairn born 1750.)
The naming pattern of James' children indicates his parents may be a John and Agnes but to date (Dec 2022) both John m. Agnes Gibson and John m. Agnes Brack have been eliminated as candidates.4,10,11

DNA Info

     John's line needs a/another participant in the FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project. Check out the Wanted! page for further information.


Agnes Gibson (circa 1730 - circa 1767)
  • James Fairbairn12,8 (circa Jun 1750 - )
  • Margaret Fairbairn13 (circa Jan 1753 - )
  • William Fairbairn14,5 (circa Sep 1757 - circa 1766)
  • John Fairbairn+ (circa Dec 1761 - Dec 1842); Older h/stone transcript states this relationship6,5,15
  • Agnes Fairbairn16 (Jul 1767 - )
Last Edited1 Feb 2023


  1. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Marr. 28 Feb 1749 John FAIRBAIRN (Earlston) & Agnes GIBSON (Legerwood), Legerwood, BEW 749/0010 0063, copy d/loaded Mar 2009.
  2. [S3874] Unknown author, Earlier Borders H/stone transcriptiions, (c. 1967), James FAIRBAIRN (tenant in Fans) & wife Margaret HENDERSON: parents of John (tenant in West Morriston m. GIBSON) transcript from earlier (c. 1967) record of h/stones, rcvd from Borders Family History Society Research Officer Barbara, Nov 2022.
  3. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Dec 2022.
  4. [S699] Borders FHS, MIs: BEW: Earlston - book, Stones #578-581 FAIRBAIRN/GIBSON/SCOTT/TAIT, extracted Mar 2009.
  5. [S3874] Unknown author, Earlier Borders H/stone transcriptiions, (c. 1967), John FAIRBAIRN (Town Farm Earlston, d. 7 Dec 1842 aged 81), wife Jane ROMANIS (d. 28 Jul 1810 aged 30) and family, transcript from earlier (c. 1967) record of h/stones, rcvd from Borders Family History Society Research Officer Barbara, Nov 2022.
  6. [S3874] Unknown author, Earlier Borders H/stone transcriptiions, (c. 1967), John FAIRBAIRN (West Moriston, d. 26 Dec 1792 aged 72) & wife Agnes GIBSON (d. aged 37 yrs 1762?), transcript from earlier (c. 1967) record of h/stones, rcvd from Borders Family History Society Research Officer Barbara, Nov 2022.
  7. [S5] online at, 1784 Farms in Berwickshire to let: Morriston & Addiston, possessed by John FAIRBAIRN, from The Edinburgh Advertiser, 26th, 30th Nov 1784, extracted Sep 2010.
  8. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Sep - Dec 2010, updated Dec 2022.
  9. [S3874] Unknown author, Earlier Borders H/stone transcriptiions, (c. 1967), Tablestone #178: John FAIRBAIRN, tenant in Fans; son George in Easter Bassindean _6.1800 & wife Mary BROWN 1806?; transcript from earlier (c. 1967) record of h/stones, rcvd from Borders Family History Society Research Officer Barbara, Dec 2022.
  10. [S14] FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project online at, Stewart (F-38), Bob (F-34), (F-42), exact 67/67/ match, extracted from FT DNA GAP, Jun 2011.
  11. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Sep - Dec 2010, updated Jun 2012, updated Dec 2022.
  12. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 17 Jun 1750 James s/o John FREBAIRN, Tennant in ffans", Earlston, BEW 736/00 0010 115, copy d/loaded Oct 2010.
  13. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 17 Jan 1753 Margaret d/o John FAIRBAIRN, "tennant in Netherthird of Ligerwood", Legerwood, BEW, 749 10 pg 72, copy d/loaded Sep 2010.
  14. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap.4 Sep 1757 John s/o John FAIRBAIRN, "tennant in Ligerwood", Legerwood, BEW, 749 10 pg80:ITAL], copy d/loaded Dec 2022.
  15. [S692] Borders FHS, MIs: BEW Earlston - extracts, #578 FAIRBAIRN/GIBSON, Earlston, Lauder, Greenend, extracted Mar 2009.
  16. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Birth & Bap.26 Jul 1767 Agnes d/o John FAIRBAIRN, "tennant in Westmorriston", Legerwood, BEW, 749 pg 96, copy d/loaded Dec 2022.
  • Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

    Abraham Lincoln
  • My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.

    Cary Grant
  • Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.

    E. B. White
  • I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.

    e. e. cummings
  • What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.

    — Saint Augustine
  • Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Mark Twain
  • If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.

    Henry David Thoreau
  • If two things look the same, look for differences. If they look different, look for similarities.

    John Cardinal
  • In theory, there is no difference. In practice, there is.

    — Anonymous
  • Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

    John Adams
  • People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

    Abraham Lincoln
  • History - what never happened described by someone who wasn't there

    — ?Santayana?
  • What's a "trice"? It's like a jiffy but with three wheels

    — Last of the Summer Wine
  • Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened

    — Terry Pratchett
  • I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it.

    — Terry Pratchett
  • .. we were trained to meet any new situation by reorganising; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illuson of progress

    — Petronius (210 BC)
  • The time we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains

    — Proust
  • You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

    William J. H. Boetcker
  • Only a genealogist thinks taking a step backwards is progress

    — Lorna 1992
  • No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.

    — George Bernard Shaw
  • A TV remote is female: It easily gives a man pleasure, he'd be lost without it, and while he doesn't always know which buttons to push, he just keeps trying.

    — Anon
  • Hammers are male: Because in the last 5000 years they've hardly changed at all, and are occasionally handy to have around.

    — Anon
  • The right thing to do is to do nothing, the place to do it is in a place of concealment and the time to do it is as often as possible.

    — Tony Cook "The Biology of Terrestrial Molluscs"