Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

Fairbairn Family Reunion – Aug 8 & 9, Amherstburg, Ontario

I am busy with as much of the last-mintute preparations for the family reunion this weekend as I am able to do. My cousin is going to be here on Sunday, she’s driving here from British Columbia, they left last Sunday. We have to get together next week and finalize all ot the details. She has to pick up the T-shirt order, there were enough orders to get the T-shirts at a great discount, so there will be plenty extra for sale at the reunion.

I bought the blank CDs and DVDs and jewel cases online to make photo DVDs of scanned old photos and reunion photos and Rootsmagic4 shareable CDs. I made enough in my yardsale to pay for them. I will be able to make copies at a bargain price, much less expensive than if I would have printed out Family History books. Family History books can be printed from the CDs for anyone who would like one as well as all of the other features of Rootsmagic4. I will be printing a small number of the photos at the reunion as well, if requested.

I went shopping the other day for Raffle Items. I bought some large Seagrass baskets on sale 75% off, and am filling them with different theme items. I have one for Bar-b-Q (Meat thermometer, planks, salt/pepper grinder, grill brush, grill set, etc.), I’m making a Scottish theme (Tartan Coaster set, Family History Book (to be filled in), some tins of cookies, Scotch whiskey, smoked fish, etc.) , a Picnic theme (linens, plastic dishes, pitcher and glasses, condiments, thermos, coolers, citronella candles), and an Summer Activities theme (fishing rod, tackle, badminton set, frisbees, beach toys, kite, etc.). I’m hoping the proceeds will pay for at least one DNA test for the Fairbairn Surname DNA Project.

We aren’t going to be camping but I’m going to take a tent and set it up as a “Welcome” tent, to get name tags, information, wall chart, first aid and have a couple of tables, one for the Raffle items and tickets and T-shirts, one for the PSC and my laptop, I will be spending a lot of time here. I am going to have coffee, tea, lemonade and baked goods there also. I’m going to be busy doing some baking this week. I’m making cupcakes for the kids to decorate with Hallowe’en theme candies.

I will be gathering some decorations for the Hallowe’en theme weekend at the park as well. I’m going to be taking a skeleton, and a hammock, Christmas lights, solar lights, and a variety of small decorations to put up around the group campsite.

In keeping with the Hallowe’en theme, we may even tour the Fairbairn Family Cemetery after dark!


Filed under: Genealogy, , , ,

Why so much interest in the Doane family?

The reason is simple, two of my great-grandmothers, both maternal and paternal, were Doans. On my paternal side, Harriet Fernetta Doan, my great-grandmother, was the 2nd great-granddaughter of Titus Doane, Sr., great-granddaughter of Titus Doane, Jr., grand-daughter of Isaac Doan, daughter of Linus and Hannah (Doan) Doan. Harriet was born in Ohio in Dec. of 1854 and came to Canada Jan. 1855. The family must have been to Ohio visiting for Christmas when Harriet was born, as they lived in Welland County, Ontario. Harriet and John Haines/Hines were married in Welland, Ontario in 1872 and relocated first to Elgin County and then to Essex, Ontario between 1894 and 1897.

On my maternal side, Jessie Izillia Doan, my great-grandmother, was the 3rd great-granddaughter of Titus Doan, Sr., born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, came to Ontario in 1793, 2nd great-granddaughter of Titus Doane, Jr., great-grand-daughter of Isaac Doan, grand-daughter of Linus and Hannah (Doan) Doan, daughter of Allan Clark Doan, Harriet’s brother. Jessie Doan was born in Pelham Twp., Welland County on May 24, 1875. The family was living in Essex according to the census in 1891. She married Robert Fairbairn on Nov. 1, 1893 in Essex, Ontario.

My 2nd/3rd great-grandmother, Hannah Maud Doan, was the daughter of William Doan, brother of Isaac.
Therefore, I have less surnames to research, and I have more Doan genes than any other. The Doane family history is readily available, as is the case for most ‘gateway ancestors’ , and I find their history interesting, so if I post alot of information about the Doane/Doan family, I’m not playing favourites.

Filed under: Doane/Doan, Family Files, Genealogy, , , , ,

Origins of the Fairbairn name

from the Armstronog Clan Society. website:

The Armstrong – Fairbairn Link

By DeWitt Armstrong and Donald Fairburn. From The Milnholm Cross Newsletter, Summer 1991, Vol. III No.4. This was the newsletter of The C lan Armstrong Trust and is now called The Milnholm Cross and Trust Topics. The Clan Armstrong Trust helped start the Armstrong Clan Society. Also appeared in The Armstrong Chronicles, August, 2005.

Why is Fairbairn, or Fairburn, a sept of the Armstrong Clan? The answer lies buried deep in the past. So few are the written records surviving from eight or ten centuries ago that our best clues come from oral legend. As with the border Ballads, however, folk legends passed down through untold generations may prove more reliable than written history.

The Armstrong name-legend most widely known appears in many places, but the earliest version was written in 1754. Curiously, every other version contains the same elements and the same omissions. The story goes that in an ancient battle the King of the Scots was unhorsed. His armor bearer Fairbairn, with one arm, picked up the king and sat him upon Fairbairn’s own horse. The grateful king decreed that Fairbairn should thereafter be know as Armstrong, and gave him land along the Scottish Border.

Unmentioned in any version are details of the battle, the name of the king, and who won. Partly because the name Armstrong is recorded along the Border as early as 1223, a consensus among our clan historians inclines towards the Battle of the Standard in 1138, when David I lost to the English about 90 miles south of the Border. To us this seems reasonable, especially since the legend makes no claim that, owing to Fairbairn’s gallant rescue, the Scots were victorious. Had they won, would the legend have failed to say so?

Another legend, however, has come down through centuries of Armstrongs. It used to be immersed in a fog of fairy tales, closely matching Danish folklore, whose interest for our present purpose would be slight, except for the appearance within them of the Fairy Bear, which is to say the Fair Beorn.

According to this ancient legend, the Armstrong progenitor was an Anglo-Danish Earl of York, Northumbria, Huntingdon, and Northampton named Siward. Earl Siward was a great warrior, sometimes called, ‘the Strong’, and he was a major figure in the final chapters of Anglo Saxon history just before the Norman Conquest in 1066. The College of Heralds says that Earl Siward’s father was an Earl in England named Beorn, and some scholars say that Siward was a nephew of Cnut (or Canute), King of England. It was Cnut, at any rate, who about 1033 made Siward the Earl of York. Siward then conquered Northumbria about 1042, to bring that kingdom for the first time under the English monarch, with Siward as its earl. On gaining the English throne, Edward the Confessor kept Siward in his earldoms, so that Siward remained one of the most powerful men in Britain.

Then, up in Scotland, Macbeth killed King Duncan, who had married Earl Siward’s sister (or possibly his cousin ). Siward provided sanctuary for Malcolm, son of Duncan, and in 1054 led his army north, accompanied by Malcolm At Dunsinane, Earl Siward defeated Macbeth, whereupon Siward’s nephew (or cousin) became Malcolm III, of Scots. (Editor) This killing by Macbeth and mention of Siward’s victory is noted in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.

Let us now note some evidence incised in stone. From Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Recall the witches’ prophecy “… until great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come..”, and we recall Siward’s troops advancing camouflaged with oak bows. Well, oak trees and bows appear on a number of ancient Armstrong coats of arms, some still visible on tombstones along the Scottish Border and in Northern Ireland. Also appearing on tombstones are swords of Danish Viking style. Moreover, the main feature of the most ancient Armstrong monument, the Milnholm Cross in Liddesdale, (dating from between 1250 and 1350), is a great two-handed, cross-hilt sword of the Viking sort. A similar sword is on the 1583 arms of the Armstrong clan chief, among the remains of Mangerton.

We turn to chronicles of the time to trace the sons and grandsons of Earl Siward. His younger son Waltheof, also a noted warrior, became Earl of Northumbria under William the Conqueror but in 1076 was beheaded for rebellion. Siward’s elder son Osbeorn was killed in the battle at Dunsinane, but he left two sons of his own, Siward the Fair (or the White) and Siward the Red. About the latter we know only through family legend, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and other contemporary sources call the former by the name of Siward Barn, and they tell of four events in his life.

1) In 1070, King Malcolm while ravaging Northumbria, found on ships at the mouth of the Wear River and a band of royal and noble Anglo-Saxons. They were Edward the Confessor’s heir Edgar Atheling, his mother and sisters, plus Siward Barn, Earl Marlswein, and ‘several other Englishmen of great rank and wealth’. Having failed in a Danish aided attempt to expel William the Conqueror, they hoped for refuge in Scotland. Malcolm assured them of safe residence there, and after his return soon married Atheling’s sister Margaret, whose pro­foundly civilizing effect upon Malcolm and Scotland led to her sainthood.

2) In 1071, another revolt against William the Conqueror occurred. Siward Barn brought a large body of troops deep into England, to Ely, and joined in rebellion with several noble kinsmen, including Hereward the Wake and the former earls Morcar and Edwin. Against them William the Conqueror personally led the coun­teroffensive, shattering the rebel force. Capturing Siward Barn and Morcar, he kept them alive, as captives, in Normandy for seventeen years.

3) When dying in 1087, King William the Conqueror released Morcar and Siward Barn. Morcar was re-impris­oned by the new king of England. Siward Barn managed to avoid capture and re-imprisonment.

The final written record of Siward Barn is dated 1091, in Durham, near the Border and well east of Carlisle. It is a charter bearing signatures of King William Rufus, of royal officials, and of noble witnesses. The latter include several earls and Siward Barn. Historians think the charter may be a forgery made a few decades later. Even if it is, we see that a knowledgeable ecclesiastical forger of the early 1100s regarded Siward Barn as a Border region noble sufficiently worthy to list in exalted company.

The language used between 1104 and 1108 by the Durham chronicler Simeion to report the 1087 release by the dying king is worth noting. Simeon wrote “he liberated. . . Siward surnamed Barn.. .”. The significance for us is that nine centuries ago scarcely anyone in Britain possessed a surname. Only in the 1100s did surnames begin to appear, and most people lacked them until the 1300s or 1400s.

Spelling was picturesquely variable in the Middle Ages, and later, too. Bjorn, Biorn, Beorn, Barne, Barne, Burn, and Bairn could equally be used for the same person, even though in Denmark Bjorn meant ‘bear’ and in Scotland Bairn meant ‘child’. We could hardly be so foolish as to assert that no Fairbairn in Scotland by the 1500s, say, owed his surname to the juvenile handsomeness of some forbearer. But we do believe that the Border landholder Thomas Fairbarne who sued in a North Tynedale court in 1279 derived his name from Earl Siward’s grandson Siward Barn. Further research into records of the region, we feel, may well turn up still earlier Fairbarns, however spelled

Research by the Clan Armstrong Trust in Scotland has uncovered earlier instances of the sllnl’!h’tlt: Armstrong in the early 1200s. Their locations, like Thomas Fairbarne’s, are all in the near vicinity of the Border as it then existed. In that era Scotland and England were still actively contending for possession of Northumberland and Cumberland. Even though the second Anglo-Norman king turned the Carlisle area into an English stronghold in 1092, that area was frequently held by Scottish monarchs thereafter. Penrith, located further south, was often a possession of the King of Scots as well. These are areas where the Armstrongs were recorded in the 1200s.

Exactly when the Armstrongs settled in Liddesdale will probably never be known for sure. On that front line, records did not survive the incessant warfare.

Some students think Liddesdale was Armstrong country during the 1200s and possibly during some of the 1100s. Just across a saddle in the Cheviot Hills from Liddesdale lay North Tynedale, where we know of one Fairbarne in 1279.

So these two legends, of Armstrong descent from Siward through Siward Barn (or the Fair), and of Fairbairn renamed Armstrong by a rescued king, strike us as simply two sides of the same coin. To date, each new discovery has tended to reinforce this opinion, to support the ancient conviction that Armstrongs and Fairburns (or Fairbairns) are the same stock. Short of the Pearly Gate we are not likely to know for sure, but let the search go on!

Filed under: Fairbairn, Family Files, Genealogy, , ,

My Mother, the Poet

Marian Joyce Neil Hines Nov.30, 1936 – August 15, 2008

I have just recently started blogging, I’m still getting used to writing in whole sentences where my genealogy is concerned, I’ve been so accustomed to genealogy short-forms and fact-gathering. Now, to put the facts together in sentences that are interesting to read as well as informative to tell their story.
I am not a writer, I have always liked creative writing, but I didn’t excel in it. My mom was a poet, she could create a poem about anything, but her favourite subject was our family. She passed away last August, and I am gathering a collection of her poetry together to make into a book as a tribute to her. Here is a poem she wrote for my grandmother:


Time never, nor space, could ever erase

the picture that’s hung in my heart

of that dear, lovely lady’s sweet beckoning face,

expressions will never depart.

The smile that was gleaming when e’r I knew joy,

the bitter tears when I knew sorrow,

The frown when I, evil task would employ,

the hope of much gladder tomorrows.

Whenever I failed there was naught but despair,

in achievement was nothing but pride,

and no artist’s brush can ever compare

with the picture of her, here inside.

Glowing with sun-rays of love, just for me,

in every chore and all duty.

All that I am, I owe to her now,

may gratitude never diminish.

Because that I feel in Heaven above,

angels whispering to one another,

can find among burning turns of their love,

none with the devotion of Mother.

Written by my mother, Marian Neil Hines (1936- 2008) for her mother, Ruby Fairbairn Neil Allison

My mother was born November 30, 1936, she was a twin, her brother Stephen died shortly after birth. She was raised in Windsor, the small town of Essex, and Cottam, a village near Essex, in Essex County, Ontario. My mom was raised in a Scotch-Irish family with strong religious convictions.

On June 14, 1947, she was taking care of her younger brother while her mother worked, when he was struck by a car and was killed. She thought that she was being punished by God for not watching him closer when, on the 17th, a tornado ripped through Windsor, leaving 11 people dead and 100 injured. She was one of the injured, a brick wall fell on her and her knee was crushed. She had to have a it repaired surgically and made a full recovery although she was bothered by arthritis later in life. My grandparents were divorced after that and my grandmother remarried when mom was in her teens.

My mom knew my dad most of her life, her grandmother was his father’s first cousin. He used to come in to the diner where my grandmother worked and my mom liked him a lot, although she was only eight years old and he was ten years older than her. He told her then that he was going to marry her someday, so she waited.

They got married on April 20, 1957 and started a family together. They had seven children, three sons and four daughters in the next twelve years. After 24 years of marriage, they were divorced, but she never remarried, saying her husband was still alive, and she couldn’t break her vow to God.

Mom moved in with me in November of 2007, after being hospitalized for heart failure. I’m glad that I was able to take care of her, she was afraid of going into a nursing home. She enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles and crosswords, but she had cataracts and couldn’t see very well, on top of that the doctor said she had conjunctivitis and sent her home with eyedrops. After a week with no improvement, she went to the optometrist and he diagnosed her as having glaucoma and sent her to a specialist that afternoon because she was going blind as a result. She had both cataracts removed so he could treat the glaucoma, but lost the sight totally in one eye and the other eye wasn’t very good. She never could do her puzzles again.

Mom’s worst fear about dying was the process, she didn’t want to have to go into a nursing home, she didn’t want to die in the hospital, but she didn’t want to be a burden either. She was getting sicker, she was diabetic, but she wasn’t’ able to eat anything, her stomach was always upset, she said from her meds, so my sister was going to take her to the emergency room to get her prescription changed. She passed away when my sister came to pick her up to go to the hospital, we walked her to the truck, she sent my sister back in for her nitroglycerine inhaler, she forgot it and she needed it, and when she got back to the truck, she said that she wasn’t feeling well and she said ‘well, here it comes’ and she was gone. She had such a calm look on her face, I kew she was finally pain-free. So, she died peacefully, quickly, and she wasn’t alone.

Filed under: Fairbairn, Family Files, Genealogy, Haines/Hines, O'Neil/Neil, , , , ,

October 2019
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