John Fairbairn (m. Agnes GIBSON)1

(circa Jan 1717 - Dec 1793)
FatherJohn Fairbairn (m. Magdalen BO)2 (say 1685 - circa 1721)
MotherMagdalen Bo2 (say 1685 - aft. 1722)


     The working assumption is that it was not a coincidence that in 1784 a John Fairbairn was reported tenant at West Morriston, where a James with eldest son John (ie fits naming pattern) is later living.
This, together with both dna evidence from descendants, and the Earlston headstone, allow us to piece together the family as shown here.
The dna evidence is an excellent genetic match between John(F-17), descendant of John and Jessie (JOHNSTON), and Stewart(F-38), descendant of James & Isabel (TAIT) it would seem likely that the suspected family group for John & Magdalen (BO) FAIRBAIRN may well be reality.
James, marr. to Isabel TAIT, can be connected as son of John by both naming pattern of James/Isabel's children, and from information placing both James and John at Morriston in the 1780s.
Additional circumstantial evidence includes:
- James had a son following the family occupation of miller
- Greenlaw OPRS show that a Magdalen and an Isabel Fairbairn both married there around the same time,
- with Magdalen looking highly likely to be the d/o James & Elizabeth PURVES, given the MACK/TAYLOR/PURVES links found via assorted wills, and Isabel likely to be the d/o of John.
This latter id strengthened somewhat by the same day/event baptisms of James' and John's respective children Margaret and James with the entry not showing them as separated by "eod" as elsewhere on the page.3,4,5,6,7,8


     John Fairbairn was born circa Jan 1717 Lidgatehead, Fanns, Par. of Earlston, BEW, SCT.2,9 He was baptized on 3 Feb 1717 in the Par. of Earlston, BEW, SCT; entry reads: "John son to John fairbairn Lidgatehead in fanns."2
     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 in Dec 1793 Earlston, BEW, SCT; (might have died at Morriston.)9,4 He was buried with Agnes Gibson at Earlston, Berwickshire, assumed to be this h/stone, although I can't piece the family together on shown info: #578: IMO __ FAIRBAIRN tenant in ___ who died 12.1793 (?) aged 76 yrs ___ Agnes GIBSON his wife aged 85 yrs ___ (wonder if this was "erected by, or parents of") John Fairbairn Town Farm Earlstoun much esteemed by all those who knew him also the said John FAIRBAIRN who died 7.12.1817 aged 81 yrs their daughter Agnes FAIRBAIRN who died at Lauder 22.11.1877 aged 70 yrs also their dtr Helen FAIRBAIRN who d. at Greenend 14.3.1887 aged 83 yrs
(given Agnes and Helen were dtrs of John FAIRBAIRN and Jane ROMANIS, and John was living in Grizzlefield, Earlston in 1841 as an 80 yr old, with John Jr - see next stone - and 1817 - 81 is 1736, which would make John and Agnes marginally too young, I've picked that this should really be 1847 aged 80, which takes him to 1760ish instead)
(Next stone John FAIRBAIRN/Janet SCOTT - John James FB m. Janet Scott is s/o John FB and Jane ROMANIS, and 2 away James F. & Margaret TAIT - James being of Grizzlefield, and Margaret's dth cert showing her as dtr of Alexander TAIT and Mary FAIRBAIRN.9,3)
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 the two father/son John/James pairs.
I'm comfortable that naming patterns and place evidence indicates that the Mellerstain Mill/Morriston pair belong to John and Agnes (GIBSON), and that the Girnick Smailholm James belongs to John and Elspeh (ANDERSON), and as they are each contemporaries, any relationship has to be at least two generations further back.
Two contemporary James with fathers John, can, at closest, be 2nd cousins, sharing a great grandfather, assumed to be the father of John (marr. Magdalen BO).

An advertisement re farms to let in 1784 4 places a John Fairbairn as tenant at Moriston, Legertwood in 1784, where his assumed eldest son John is later living.
Although "of Legerwood" when James married, it is also possible, given the miller connections amongst his descendants, that James is the 1765 baptism to John, miller at Mellerstain Mill in 1765. And given the naming pattern of James' children indicates his parents may be a John and Agnes, they may also be the John and Agnes (GIBSON) buried at Earlston - which is how they are shown on these pages.

Results from the FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA project support the conclusions that there are indeed close relationships between these families but unfortunately do not tell us exactly how they connect.9,10,11

DNA Info

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


Agnes Gibson (say 1720 - say 1805)
  • John Fairbairn12 (circa 1760 - bet. 1841 - 1851)
  • Isabel Fairbairn13 (circa Nov 1761 - )
  • Agnes Fairbairn9,14 (circa Jul 1763 - )
  • James Fairbairn+6,3,4 (circa Jan 1765 - bet. 1810 - 1841)
  • Rachel Fairbairn15 (circa Apr 1766 - )
ChartsLineage 1a2: John & Magdalen (BO) FAIRBAIRN
Last Edited1 Aug 2015


  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. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 3 Feb 1717 John s/o John FAIRBAIRN, Lidgatehead Par. of Earlston, 736/0010 0062, copy d/loaded Dec 2009.
  3. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Sep - Dec 2010.
  4. [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.
  5. [S56] Scottish BMDB entries (from 1855),, Dth 1876 John FAIRBAIRN, reg. Sth Leith, Cty of Edin, MLN Dist 692/2 Pg 178 #532, copy d/loaded Jul 2007.
  6. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 9 Jan 1765 Margaret d/o James FAIRBAIRN, tenant, Mellerstain ; and James s/o John FAIRBAIRN, Miller, Mellerstain Mill, same day, recorded Earlston BEW 736/00 0010 0137, copy d/loaded Oct 2010.
  7. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Marr. (cash book) 4 Mar 1786 Magdalen FAIRBAIRN & Peter MACK, Greenlaw, BEW 743/00 0010 0161, copy d/loaded (for John LIDGERWOOD/Isable HENDERSON) Oct 2010.
  8. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Marr. (cash book) 3 Jul 1785 Isable FAIRBAIRN & John MILES, Greenlaw, BEW, copy d/loaded (for John LIDGERWOOD/Isable HENDERSON) Oct 2010.
  9. [S699] Borders FHS, MIs: BEW: Earlston - book, Stones #578-581 FAIRBAIRN/GIBSON/SCOTT/TAIT, extracted Mar 2009.
  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.
  12. [S692] Borders FHS, MIs: BEW Earlston - extracts, #578 FAIRBAIRN/GIBSON, Earlston, Lauder, Greenend, extracted Mar 2009.
  13. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 19 Nov 1761 Isabell d/o John FAIRBAIRN, miller, Mellerstain Milne, Earlston, BEW 736/00 0010 0132, copy d/loaded Oct 2010.
  14. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 8 Jul 1763 Agnes d/o John FAIRBAIRN, miller, Mellerstain Miln, Earlston, BEW 736/00 0010 0135, copy d/loaded Oct 2010.
  15. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 26 Apr 1766 Rachel d/o John FAIRBAIRN, miller, Mellerstain Miln, Earlston, BEW 736/00 0010 0140, copy d/loaded Oct 2010.
  • 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"