Walter Fairbairn

(10 June 1861 - 7 May 1918)
FatherWalter Fairbairn1,2 (cir. 1823 - Nov 1903)
MotherGrace Armstrong1 (Dec 1821 - Feb 1905)
Relationship1st cousin 3 times removed of Lorna Henderson

BMDB data

     Walter Fairbairn was born on 10 Jun 1861 Canonbie, DFS, SCT.1
     Walter Fairbairn married Elizabeth Roy, daughter of William Roy and Elizabeth Paton, on 28 Nov 1884 at the Turf Inn, Dalry, AYR, SCT, cert. shows marr. after publication, established Ch. Walter was a 23 yr old Railway Porter resid. Clarkston Toll, Clarkston, s/o Walter Fairbairn farm servant and Grace m.s. Armstrong; Elizabeth is a 20 yr old domestic servant resid. (?Dist)bourne Gardens, Glasgow, d/o William Roy, engineman, dec. and Elizabeth m.s. Paton. Witnessed by John McBain and Jane Roy (Elizabeth's younger sister) reg. Dalry Dec 1st.3
     Walter Fairbairn died on 7 May 1918 at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, Dist of All Saints, NBL, ENG, at age 56; assumed to be the 56 yr old reg. Newcastle T Jun qtr 1918 10b/140 as the cert shows his widow as E Fairbairn, although the varnish maker occupation seems somewhat at odds with his earlier railway portering: 56 yrs, of 8 Drydon Tce, Haltwhistle, NBL, varnish maker journeyman, cod carcinoma of rectum, operation exhaustion & cardiac failure, cert. by A Smithwaite M.B; Inf E Fairbairn, widow of deceased, present at death, resid 8 Drydon Tce, Haltwhistle, NBL, reg. 8th May, All Saints Sub Dist Newcastle upon Tyne C.B.4,5,6

Census/Where lived/Occupations

     The census of 1871 showed Walter and his sister Margaret in the household of his parents Walter and Grace Fairbairn Old Tinnishall, Par. of Canonbie, DFS, SCT, enumerated as FAIRBAIRN: Walter 47 cattle feeder b Morebattle, ROX; wife Grace 49 b Canonbie; Children: Margaret 18 dom serv, Walter 9 scholar both b Canonbie, DFS.2 It is possible that Walter Fairbairn was Kirkpatrick Fleming, DFS, SCT, in 1881 as the groom and gardener domestic, aged 18, born Canonbie, servant with the Minister David Graham, as this is the only Walter within 5 yrs of the right age, and the only Walter b Canonbie in 1881 SCT Lowlands.7 By Nov 1884 he was a railway porter at the Clarkston Toll, Clarkston, Dalry, AYR, SCT, when he married Elizabeth.3
     The census of 1891 showed Walter with his wife Elizabeth, their sons Walter and John 5 Main St, East Kilbride, LKS, SCT, household enumerated as FAIRBAIRN: Walter 29 railway signalman b Canonbie DFS; wife Eliz. 27 b Dalry, AYR; Children: Walter 5 scholar b Cathcart, RFW; John 8 mths b E Kilbride LKS.8
     The census of 1901 showed Walter with his wife Elizabeth, their sons Walter and John, their dtrs Elizabeth, Margaret and Jane Haltwhistle, NBL, ENG, household enumerated as FAIRBAIRN: Walter 39 coke drawer; wife Elizabeth 37; Children: Walter 15 coal pit pony driver; John 10; Elizabeth 8; Margaret 6; Jane 4 all b SCT.4
     Walter Fairbairn was shown as the head of the household in the census of 1911 8 Westfield Tce, Haltwhistle, NBL, ENG, with Elizabeth enumerated as FAIRBAIRN: Walter 49 jobbing gardener b Canonbie, DFS; wife Elizabeth 46 b Paby, AYR marr. 27 yrs 7 children 5 living; Children: Walter 26 coal miner hewer marr. under 1 mth (new wife Mary nee Storey was with her parents and their "under 1 mth old" son), John 20 coal miner shifter below ground, Elizabeth 18 milliner all b East Kilbride, LAN; Jane 14 b Dalton, CUL (all shown as married in transcript, but only Walter actually enumerated as married). Margaret also listed, but crossed out: 16 dom. serv b East Kilbride, Lanark, explained by her also being enumerated as a servant in a separate hsehold.)9,10 By May 1918 they were living 8 Drydon Tce, Haltwhistle, NBL, ENG, with Walter's occupation now being a varnish marker (journeyman.)6

All the other info

     Even though we have now shown that the New York line of a John, son of a Walter, is an excellent dna match to a documented descendant of Archibald, this Walter's great grandfather, we would still love to find a living male line descendant of this family willing to join the Fairbairn Surname DNA project.11

Walter Fairbairn is/are mentioned in the letter from Grace Armstrong to John Little in 1891 Grindstone Head, Dist of Canonbie, DFS, SCT; Headed: Grindstonehead March 6 1891, transcribed above from the original, spelling and punctuation as written
My Dear Nephew ...
Walter has been ill since the autumn and not able to work he is very frail...
Agnes and family is all well James is much the same John her son is at school yet he is a good learner and will soon be put frrot [forward assumed to be meant] for something
Grace is hired and Mary the youngest got bussery 60 pounds so she had the Langholm School to go to be put forret in learning John and her is both in french and latine they have to go to school 2 years and a half yet the prize she won is to edicate her Adam and Maggie is at Netherby their son is in Glasgow on the railway and Maggie at longtown learning the dressmaking William is in Hants yet and start for him self a flowerest and Walter is in a box at a station a East Kilbride near hammelton
... and the old people her is all dead there is very few left and I am 70 and my hand cannot writ as I wanted to do ....
Affct Aunt Grace Fairbairn
(transcr. omits other than the family of Walter and Grace ARMSTRONG.)12


Elizabeth Roy (Jul 1864 - aft. 1918)
  • Walter Fairbairn8 (cir. 1886 - aft. 1915)
  • John Fairbairn8 (cir. Aug 1890 - aft. 1911)
  • Elizabeth Fairbairn4 (cir. 1893 - aft. 1911)
  • Margaret Fairbairn4 (cir. 1895 - aft. 1911)
  • Jane Fairbairn4 (1896 - aft. 1911)
Last Edited8 Mar 2013


  1. FAIRBAIRN, International Genealogical Index (IGI), FAIRBAIRN/ARMSTRONG births, batch C118141-?-6035516 R, rechecked Apr 2004.
  2. Census image, SCT, 1871 Census Canonbie DFS Dist 814 ED 6 Folio 2 Pg 7 Sched 34, hsehold of Walter & Grace FAIRBAIRN, copy d/loaded Dec 2006.
  3. Scottish BMDB entries (from 1855),, Marr. 1884 Walter FAIRBAIRN and Elizabeth ROY, Dalry, AYR Dist 587/ 51 Pg 26, copy d/loaded Dec 2006.
  4. 1901 Census (images for ENG, transcriptions for SCT), UK, Via, Haltwhistle, NBL RG13/4828 ED 16 Sched 190 hsehold of Walter & Elizabeth FAIRBAIRN, extracted Dec 2006.
  5. Www FreeBMD ENG online at, Dth 1918 Walter FAIRBAIRN, aged 56, reg. Newcastle T, Jun qtr 10b/140, extracted Oct 2007.
  6. Various, BDM Certified copy, Dth 7 May 1918 Walter FAIRBAIRN, Royal Victoira Infirmary, Newcaslte upon Tyne, reg. All Sts, Newcastle upon Tyne, NBL, copy rcvd Dec 2008.
  7. 1881 Census transcripts, UK, via Family Search/LDS CDs, FHL Film 0224049 GRO Ref Volume 837-2 EnumDist 5 Page 1, rechecked Jan 2004.
  8. Scottish BMDB entries (from 1855),, 1891 Census East Kilbride LKS Dist 643 ED 1 Pg 3 Sched 12, hsehold of Walter & Elizabeth FAIRBAIRN, copy d/loaded Dec 2006.
  9. Findmypast online at, 1911 Haltwhistle, NBL RG14PN30968 RG78PN1771 RD562 SD1 ED9 SN14, hsehold of Walter & Elizabeth FAIRBAIRN, extracted May 2010.
  10. Findmypast online at, 1911 Haltwhistle, NBL RG14PN30968 RG78PN1771 RD562 SD1 ED9 SN37, hsehold of Thomas & Frances STOREY, extracted May 2010.
  11. "Lorna's Family History Musings", Nov 2006, updated Mar 2010.
  12. Joan Ellswith, "FAIRBAIRN/ARMSTRONG Corres.," e-mail to Lorna Henderson, Letter 1891 from Grace FAIRBAIRN nee ARMSTRONG to John LITTLE, rcvd via Ancestry Msge Sep 2014.

E. & O. E. Some/most parish records are rather hard to read and names, places hard to interpret, particularly if you are unfamiliar with an area.