Angus Fairbairn1

(15 Apr 1823 - 30 Jun 1887)
FatherThomas Fairbairn2,3,4,5 (Oct 1791 - Dec 1864)
MotherCatharine Angus5,2 (1794 - bet. 1861 - 1864)


     Angus Fairbairn was born on 15 Apr 1823 Lawheads, Par. of Kirknewton, MLN, SCT, entry reads: This day Thomas Fairbairn Lawheads and Catherine Angus his spouse had a son born & Baptised the Month following by the Revd Alexr Lochhd Simpson Minstr of this Parish named James (same page as 1813 John two entries later, and 1821/3/5/8? Thomas immediately following).
By the time Angus died family believed he was aged 65 yrs 2mths 16 days, which about 14th Apr 1822. Closer than most.6,7,5 He was baptized in May 1823 Par. of Kirknewton, MLN, SCT.2 Some sources show Angus as born circa 1825 SCT (1861 census) or abt 1830 (1880 census.)8,9
     Angus Fairbairn married Margaret Waters say 1845 ?Selkirk, SEL, SCT.7
By about say 1857 Angus Fairbairn and Mary Bennett were in a de facto relationship Greenwich, KEN, ENG.8
     Angus F Fairbairn died on 30 Jun 1887 Humphrey Sq (10), Boston, MA, USA, at age 64; cert. #4622 shows Angus F FAIRBAIRN as 65y 2 m 16 days, male, marr., d./ resid. 10 Humphrey Sq, b. SCT to Thomas and Catharine, both b. SCT; Buried Forest Hills.
Death of a Scottish Vocalist.
Angus Fairbairn, the well known Scottish Vocalist, died on June 30th at Dorchester, Mass. He came to this country some years ago from about Galashiels, and soon thereafter made a tour through the Eastern and Western States, as well as through the Dominion of Canada, but though generally well received it cannot be said that he achieved success. He had an inordinate opinion of his own abilities, and soon became disappointed and soured because the public did not similarly estimate them Scottish American.5,1,10,11
Angus is included in the Notables section because of the newspaper articles about the "celebrated Fairbairn Family of Scottish vocalists" performing in Boston Massachusetts in the 1880s with daughters Bessie and Polly, along with sister-in-law Elizabeth Roberts. The daughters continued to perform up into the late 1890s (at least).
Daughter Bessie (later Ralston) is presumed to be the Bessie Fairbairn continuing to appear in the Massachusetts newspapers as a singer until at least 1898, and is reported as touring with her sister Polly (later Marriott) in Grau's Opera Company according to reviews in The Galveston Daily News around 1895. Bessie's death cert. showing her occupation in 1914 as "actress, Edison Film Company"

"Scottish" is stretching a bit as only Angus was born in Scotland, his daughters Polly and Bessie are shown as born Middlesex and Kent respectively.

Daughter Polly's later census data shows her as arriving in the States in 1870, which accounts for an absence in the 1871 census in the UK.

So where does Angus "fit"?

Prime candidate for the parents listed on his death cert. (Thomas and Catharine), are Thomas Fairbairn and Catherine Angus, but proof was initially lacking, not helped by the varying dates for Angus' birth:
abt 14 Apr 1822 Scotland being the most specific from his death cert. in 1887
abt 1830 Scotland from the 1880 US census
abt 1825 Scotland from the 1861 English census.12,5,13,14
Evidence for the prosecution:
James Angus is shown as "Vocalist" on the 1852 bap. entry for son James George;
1851 census shows him with a dtr Jessie b. 1849
Which Jessie is not with wife Margaret in 1861, and fits the age and birthplace of the Jessie dtr of Angus in 1861 with Angus and Mary Fairbairn in Greenwich
Add in that James Angus birth/bap. entry at Kirknewton is dated 15 Apr 1823 - about the right day, right month, and what's a year between genealogists?
And the clincher, his obituary which states that he came to the States from near Galashiels.12,2,15,11


     Angus Fairbairn appeared on the census of 1851 Hilton Cottage, Forteviot, PER, SCT, with Margaret Fairbairn, enumerated as FAIRBAIRN: James 27 railway signalman b Kirknewton, MLN; wife Margt 25 b Selkirk, SEL; Children: William 5 scholar at home b Yarrow, SEL; Andrew 3 b Edin. MLN; Jessie 1 b Dumbarnie, PER.7
     Angus Fairbairn appeared on the census of 1861 Guildford Rd (29), Greenwich, KEN, ENG, with Mary Fairbairn, enumerated as FAIRBAIRN (indexed as FAIRBURN): Angus 36 scottish vocalist b. SCT; wife Mary 28 b. Middlesex; Sister-in-law Elizabeth ROBERTS wid. 36 Professor of Music b. Middlesex; Children: Jessie (?) 12 b. SCT; Elizth 4 b. Middlesex; Mary A 2 b. Kent; Niece: Maria ROBERTS 7 b. Devonshire.8
     The census of 9 Jun 1880 showed Angus with his wife Mary, their dtrs Bessie and Polly Braintree, Norfolk Co., MA, USA, household enumerated as FAIRBAIRN: Angus 50 musician b SCT F/M b SCT; wife Mary A 50 keeping hse b ENG F/M b ENG; Dtrs: Bessie 21, Polly 19 both b ENG F b SCT M b ENG; Sister in law Elizabeth ROBERTS, 60 singer b ENG F/M b ENG.9

Family 1

Margaret Waters (Aug 1825 - Dec 1904)
  • William Fairbairn7 (circa 1846 - aft. 1861)
  • Andrew Fairbairn7 (circa 1848 - aft. 1891)
  • Jessie Fairbairn7,8 (Aug 1849 - )
  • James George Fairbairn7,15 (Feb 1852 - aft. 1861)

Family 2

Mary Bennett (circa 1833 - )
  • Elizabeth Fairbairn9 (Jan 1858 - Dec 1914)
  • Mary Ann Maria Fairbairn8 (bet. Jun 1858 - Sep 1858 - )
ChartsLineage 1c1: John & Elizabeth (YULE) FAIRBAIRN
Last Edited13 Feb 2017


  1. [S5] online at, 1882 Angus FAIRBAIRN, vocalist, house 43 Blue Hill Ave, from Massachusetts City Directories, Boston, 1882, extracted Sep 2008.
  2. [S56] Scottish BMDB entries (from 1855),, Birth 15 Apr 1823 James s/o Thomas FAIRBAIRN & Catherine ANGUS, Lawheads, Par. of Kirknewton, MLN, copy d/loaded May 2009.
  3. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", May 2009.
  4. [S2970] Births deaths marriages index: Scotland 1855+, Birth/Bap.? 8 Feb 1852 James George s/o James Angus & Margaret Waters FAIRBAIRN, Selkirk, SEL 778/00 0060 0249, extracted from index Jan 2011 ,
  5. [S3495] Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910: Dth 30 Jun 1887 Angus F s/o Thomas & Catharine FAIRBAIRN, vocalist, Humphrey Sq, aged 65y 2 m 16 d b. SCT, from Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, extracted Feb 2017.
  6. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Birth 15 Apr 1823 James s/o Thomas FAIRBAIRN & Catherine ANGUS, Lawheads, Par. of Kirknewton, MLN, copy d/loaded May 2009.
  7. [S203] 1851 Census transcripts, Scotland, via, Par. of Forteviot, PER Par. 354 ED 1 Pg 2 Sched 9, hsehold of James & Margt FAIRBAIRN, extracted May 2009.
  8. [S204] 1861 Census images, England & Wales, via, Sub Dist Greenwich West, Greenwich, KEN, RG 9; Piece: 399; Folio: 95; Page: 41;, Sched. 226; hsehold of Angus & Mary FAIRBAIRN, extracted Feb 2017.
  9. [S305] 1880 Census images, USA, Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Roll: T9_547; Family History Film: 1254547; Page: 295.3000; ED 506; Image: 0593, hsehold of Angus & Mary A FAIRBAIRN, extracted Sep 2008.
  10. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) 1890 Mary A FAIRBAIRN widow of Angus, Boston, MA, from Boston, Massachusetts Directory, 1890, extracted Feb 2017.
  11. [S1918] Newspaper clippings, Obit. 16 Aug 1887 Angus FAIRBAIRN, Scottish Vocalist, d. 30 Jun 1887 Dorchester, Mass., came from "about Galashiels", from Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries .
    The Evening Telegraph (Dundee, Scotland), Tuesday, August 16, 1887; pg. 2; Issue 3253. British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950, extracted Feb 2017.
  12. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Feb 2017.
  13. [S1918] Newspaper clippings, 1895 Bessie FAIRBAIRN & Polly MARRIOTT, Amusements, "Amorita" at the Grand, from The Galveston Daily News (Houston, Texas), Friday, March 01, 1895; pg. 10; Issue 342, extracted Feb 2017.
  14. [S3495] Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910: Dth 30 Dec 1914 Elizabeth d/o Angus (b. SCT) FAIRBAIRN & Mary A (b. ENG) BENNETT, wid. of Bowman RALSTON, d. Manhattan State Hosp., New York City, b. 5 Jan 1858 (ENG), bur. Forest Hills Cem., Mass., extracted Feb 2017.
  15. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Birth 8 Feb 1852 James George s/o James Angus (Vocalist) FAIRBAIRN & Margaret WATERS, Newark, SEL, 778/00 0060 0249, copy d/loaded (from tree of reb2952) Feb 2017.
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