John Fairbairn (m. Elsepth ANDERSON)1

(say 1735 - )


     Several trees show this family as including the Earlston baptisms to miller John, namely daughters Isabel (Nov 1761), Agnes (Jul 1763) and Rachel (Apr 1766) together wth James (Jan 1765), all of whom I have assigned to John and Agnes (GIBSON) instead, for various reasons outlined on the appropriate pages.
The baptisms of these all show only a father John, no mother, but do add that John was a miller.
The baptism of the documented sons to John and Elspeth (ANDERSON), John (1768) & George (1771), name both parents, and show John as a tenant at Girnick, Smailholm.
Although a move from Earlston to Smailholm, after Rachel and before John, would be entirely feasible, the change from miller to "tenant" seems less so.
However, there are family letters extant that link certain members of these families, mostly circumstantially, that I have not yet taken into account, only having snippets from the letters to go on so far.
Reconciliation is required between these letters, the few extant records, the dna results and the will of the Rev James FAIRBAIRN of Newhaven which is primarily responsible for the current way the John & Magdalen (BO) FAIRBAIRN tree is currently shown.
Most trees do agree however that James, marr. to Margaret TAIT, does belong to this couple despite a baptism record not being found (or assumed to be the one to miller John in Earlston).
We know that the James married to Margaret TAIT was born between 1761 and 1766, assuming he both knew his age, and the 1841 census enumerator recorded it correctly, albeit rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5.
DNA evidence from a descendant, as at Jun 2012, shows, at 67 markers, an 80% probability of a shared ancestor within 8 generations to the descendant of James and Isabel (TAIT) FAIRBAIRN, but as two of the differences are unique to the participants' line this may be able to be considered a closer match than this infers.2


     John Fairbairn was born say 1735 ?Smailholm, ROX, SCT.1
     John Fairbairn married Elspeth Anderson say 1760 ?Smailholm, ROX, not immediately obvious on IGI.1
In 1797 there is a John FAIRBAIRN at East Girnick being taxed on 3 work horses, all taxable at 2/- each.3

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 this 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 that James married Isobel TAIT, 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.

DNA results from a descendant of this James, married to Margaret TAIT, show the closest Lineage 1 relationship is indeed with the descendant of James married to Isobel TAIT, among other equally close relationships whose pedigrees have no known links to this tree, circumstantial or otherwise.

A jigsaw puzzle still to be solved.5,6,2

DNA Info

     John belongs to a tested line in the FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project. Follow this link for supplementary DNA information.
     John's line needs a/another participant in the FAIRBAIRN Surname DNA Project. Check out the Wanted! page for further information.


Elspeth Anderson (say 1730 - )
  • James Fairbairn (m. Margaret TAIT)+ (bet. 1761 - 1766 - bet. 1842 - 1851); from naming pattern, and Girnick/Gunnock connection, aided by 1841 census showing James as not born Roxburghshire. No baptism found, only that of his brothers John and George7
  • John Fairbairn8,9 (circa Aug 1768 - )
  • George Fairbairn1 (Jun 1771 - )
ChartsLineage 1a3: John & Elspeth (ANDERSON) FAIRBAIRN
Last Edited9 Jun 2012


  1. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Birth 3rd Bap. 24 Jun 1771 George s/o John FAIRBAIRN & Elspeth ANDERSON of Girnick, Smailholm, ROX 805/0010 0101, , copy d/loaded Jan 2009.
  2. [S1] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Conclusions", Sep to Dec 2010, updated Jun 2012.
  3. [S2891] 1797 Farm Horse Tax Rolls - Scotland online at, John FAIRBAIRNEast Girnick, Par. of Smailholm, ROX, extracted Dec 2009.
  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. [S699] Borders FHS, MIs: BEW: Earlston - book, Stones #578-581 FAIRBAIRN/GIBSON/SCOTT/TAIT, extracted Mar 2009.
  6. [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.
  7. [S1] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Conclusions", Sep to Dec 2010.
  8. [S110] Scotlands People Index, "OPR Roxburghshire, Scotland, FAIRBAIRN Births 1538-1854", Birth/Bap? 13 Aug 1768 John s/o John FAIRBAIRN & Elspeth ANDERSON, Smailholm ROX 805/ 0010 0099, extracted from index Dec 2010.
  9. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bap. 13 Aug 1768 John s/o John FAIRBAIRN & Elspath ANDERSON, tenant of Girnick, at Smailholm, ROX 805/00 0010 0099, copy d/loaded Jun 2012.
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