John Fairbairn (bookseller of Edinburgh)1,2

(28 Aug 1738 - 7 Jul 1810)
FatherJames Fairbairn (schoolmaster of Penicuik)2,3 (say 1680 - bet. Jun 1744 - Mar 1745)
MotherMargaret Gibson3 (say 1715 - )
John FAIRBAIRN, Bookseller, Edin. Courtesy of GPR via Richard


     The will of John Fairbairn, bookseller of Edinburgh left £300 "to the children of John Fairbairn Gardener at Chelsea Gardens England & to heirs equally among them", taking this money from a prior legacy of £500 to the children of an Archibald FAIRBAIRN (Katherine, James, John, Archibald and Alexander).
Both Archibald and John the gardener are believed to be John's step nephews, both sons of the James married to Katherine MARSHALL.
Other FAIRBAIRNs mentioned were "To Marion and Jean Fairbairn the children of the late Archibald Fairbairn Schoolmaster at newlands a small annual allowance at the pleasure of my wife or in the event of her death a Sum not exceeding five pounds Stg per annum to each." This Archibald being his step brother.4,5,6


     John Fairbairn was born on 28 Aug 1738 Penicuik, MLN, SCT.3 He was baptized on 31 Aug 1738 Penicuik, MLN; entry dated 28 & 31st 1738 reads: Mr James Fairbairn Schoolmaster in Pennycook & Margaret Gibson his spouse had a child born August 28 & was baptized the 31st day named John witnesses William Thomson William Mathisone & Walter Clerk.3
     John Fairbairn married Katherine Barclay on 28 Jun 1761 Edinburgh, MLN, SCT.7,8,9
     John Fairbairn married Katherine Alexander, daughter of Male Alexander, on 23 Jul 1789 Edinburgh, MLN, entry shows John as merchant of Tolbooth, Kirk Parish, Katherine as ALEXANDER, of Old Kirk Parish, relict of James PARLANE, late merchant of Edinburgh.10
     John Fairbairn (bookseller of Edinburgh) died on 7 Jul 1810 Edinburgh, MLN, at age 71; H/stone reads: "Sacred To the Memory of John Fairbairn Bookseller in Edinburgh whose uniformity of conduct as a Christian and Member of Society Rendered him conspicuous through life and whose many good qualities will belong in the Recollection of his numerous friends He died 8th July 1810 in the 72nd year of his life and his disconsolate Widow has erected this stone to the Memory of the best of Husbands"
NB will gives date of death as 7th.11,12,13 He was buried on 10 Jul 1810 W Miln's Tomb, Greyfriars, Edinburgh, MLN, SCT, Burial entry (page headed 1810, column headed Buried July) reads: Mr John Fairbairn, Bookseller (interred) 10, 6D.P. (place) W Miln's Tomb Mill's or Miln's tomb looks like it might be to the left of the Easter Gate (this from "Plan of Grey friars burying ground", and Edinburgh Old and New adds "John Milne's tomb 1667 .. immediately adjoins the eastern or Candlemaker's Row entrance.")11,14
(not to be confused with the John FAIRBAIRN bookseller of Warriston Cres., Edin.)
The Scottish Book Trade Index (SBTI) records the following about this John: bookbinder, bookseller and stationer Edinburgh:
bookbinder Castlehill 1774-75
Back of the Weigh-House 1776-82
stationer Opposite the Weigh-House 1784-88
bookseller and stationer Castlehill 1788
John & James Fairbairn 9 Hunter Square 1789-94
John Fairbairn same address 1793-1803
70 Adam's Square 1804
Adam's Square 1805-08
Wester Newington 1809-10
Son of the late James Fairbairn, schoolmaster at Pennicuik, married Katharine daughter to Charles Barklay farmer in Carnock 28 June 1761. Apprenticed to Andrew [Adrian] Watkins, H.M. Printer for Scotland for 7 years. Burgess as apprentice to Adrian Watkins His Majesty's Stationer for Scotland 21 March 1782, apprenticed same day; Guild Brother 'merchant' 17 August 1786. For many years clerk to Mr Donaldson. Member, preses and treasurer of the Edinburgh Bookseller's Society 23 June 1790. Apprentice Adam Black, Burgess 14 April 1808; Guild Brother 16 March 1814. John Fairbairn died 1810. 'He had been bred with Adrian Watkins, the King's Printer, and was many years clerk to Mr Donaldson'. His 'son, his assistant in business, had died only a short time before' 1795. 'He died in the year 1810, and having no near relatives, left me and my friend Mr. Reid of Leith residuary legatees. He had much intercourse with American booksellers' Constable"
Edin Dir; NLS Impr Ind; EdinPren; EdinBurg; EdinMarr; Constable; Sher. Edinburgh Booksellers.2


Katherine Barclay (say 1740 - May 1822)
  • Sarah Fairbairn15 (circa Apr 1762 - Aug 1766)
  • James Fairbairn8,16 (Oct 1764 - Jul 1793)
ChartsJames & Marion (CRAIG) FAIRBAIRN
Last Edited29 Mar 2013


  1. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Birth 9th Bap. 14th Oct 1764 James s/o John FAIRBAIRN (bookbinder Old Church Par.) & Katharine BARCLAY, Edinburgh, MLN, 685/001 0310 0346, copy d/loaded May 2011.
  2. [S3025] Scottish Book Trade Index (SBTI) online at, John FAIRBAIRN, bookseller, Edinburgh, 9 Hunter Sq, extracted May 2011.
  3. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Birth 28th Bap. 31st Aug 1738 John s/o James (schoolmaster) FAIRBAIRN & Margaret GIBSON, Penicuik, MLN 697/000 0010 0158, copy d/loaded May 2011.
  4. [S3026] Richard GREENE, "EM FAIRBAIRN: Penicuik, MLN ex Richard G," e-mail to Lorna Henderson, Will 1811 John FAIRBAIRN, Bookseller of Edin., extracts rcvd Mar 2013.
  5. [S2] Lorna Henderson, "FAIRBAIRN Analysis", Mar 2013.
  6. [S3252] Will/Codicils: John FAIRBAIRN bookseller d Edin. 1810 (Inventory (1 Feb 1811) Will (9 Nov 1804) Codicils (22 Jun 1805, 6 Oct 1809)) Edinburgh Sheriff Court SC/70/13: Copy d/loaded Mar 2013.
  7. [S5] online at, Dth 8 May 1822 Widow of Mr John FAIRBAIRN,bookseller, from the Edinburgh Advertiser (Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland), 14 May 1822, extracted Oct 2010.
  8. [S3155] GRO Scotland, "OPR Midlothian Scotlands People (FAIRBAIRN & variants) Births 1538-1854", Birth/Bap.? 9 Oct 1764 James s/o John FAIRBAIRN & Katharine BARCLAY, Edinburgh, MLN, 685/001 0310 0346, extracted from index May 2011.
  9. [S3124] Scotlands People Index, "OPR Midlothian, Scotland, FAIRBAIRN Marriages 1538-1854", Marr. 28 Jun 1761 John FAIRBAIRN & Katharine BARKLAY, Edinburgh, MLN, 685/01 0490 0137, extracted from index May 2011.
  10. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Marr. 23 Jul 1789 John FAIRBAIRN (merchant, Tolbooth, Kirk Par.) Katherine ALEXANDER (relict James PARLANE, Old Kirk Par.) Edinburgh, MLN 685/01 0520 0043, copy d/loaded May 2011.
  11. [S55] Scottish BMDB entries (to 1854),, Bur. 10 Jul 1810 John FAIRBAIRN (bookseller), buried P H Miln's Tomb, Edinburgh, MLN, 685/010 0990 0129, copy d/loaded (for James) May 2011.
  12. [S3250] Gravestone photograph resource by numerous volunteers (See for copyright notice) online at, H/stone John FAIRBAIRN d. 8th Jul 1810 in the 72nd year of his life, bur. Greyfriars, Edin., images rcvd via Richard G, Aug 2011.
  13. [S3252] Will/Codicils: John FAIRBAIRN bookseller d Edin. 1810 (Inventory (1 Feb 1811) Will (9 Nov 1804) Codicils (22 Jun 1805, 6 Oct 1809)) Edinburgh Sheriff Court SC/70/13: Dth 7 Jul 1810 John FAIRBAIRN, Bookseller in Edin., extracted Mar 2013.
  14. [S1961] Www FAIRBAIRN searches and miscellaneous correspondence by LornaHen (1) Mill's or Milne's Tomb, Greyfriards, online at, extracted Jun 2011.
  15. [S3155] GRO Scotland, "OPR Midlothian Scotlands People (FAIRBAIRN & variants) Births 1538-1854", Birth/Bap.? 24 Apr 1762 Sarah d/o John FAIRBAIRN & Katharine BARCHLAY, Edinburgh, MLN, 687/ 0010 0189, extracted from index May 2011.
  16. [S5] online at, Apprenticeship 22 Jul 1779 James s/o John FAIRBAIRN (bookbinder) to James DICKSON (bookseller), for 5 years, from Midlothian: Edinburgh - Register of Apprenticies, 1756-1800 in collection Midlothian (Edinburgh), Scotland, Extracted Parish Records, extracted May 2011.
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