The Fairgrieves of Scotland

The name Fairgrieve is of Lowland Scots origin, and began in the River Tweed region in the 17th century. It is not a very common name. Most of the Fairgrieve families in the 19th century are found in the areas around Edinburgh, including Edinburghshire (now Midlothian) and Peeblesshire. "The Surnames of Scotland", an 800 page book on the origin of Scottish names doesn't provide much insight: "Fairgrieve - Thomas Fairgrieve appears in Bentmylne, 1658, and Gideon Fairgrieve in Melrose, 1685 (RRM, I, pl. 175, III, p. 106.). Feirgreive 1659. See Forgrave." The reference is the selections from the papers of the Earl of Haddington. The cross-reference to the name Forgrave only states: "Variant of Fairgrieve." George Fairgrieve gives this possible explanation: "As far as a can find out there is no definitive derivation for the name, however in Scotland, 'Grieve' is the name given to the foreman or overseer of the farm hands. A bit like the farmers right hand man. Therefore it could be that one of our forebearers was a 'reasonable grieve'. However, fair may also refer to the complexion or hair as many of the Fairgrieves, myself included had blue eyes and fair hair. This may be through a Viking descendancy. I doubt we will ever know the truth. The first derivation, I think, is the most likely as the original surnames for the common people were given by the land owner of the land on which they lived."

Margaret Fairgrieve was the daughter of James Fairgrieve, a farmer, and Margaret Murdison or Morrison. The LDS Glasgow Branch records (FHS# 104152) show that Margaret was born 14 April 1818 in Fallhills, Peebles parish, Edinburgh County. A search of the Peebles parish register shows no christening record for Margaret, or her brother Andrew, and sisters, Christina (Ann), and Maria (Marion). Fallhills is actually a townland in the parish of Penicuik, a parish just to the north of Peebles. No Fairgrieve christening records are found in the Penicuik parish register. Temple record books kept by Margaret’s daughter, Catherine (FHS# 218887), and son James (FHS# 673267 and 673268) show Margaret’s father as James Fairgrieve, with no mother’s name listed. James A. Cameron’s temple record book gives the following information about Margaret’s family:


James Fairgrave of Edinburgh, Edin. Scot

Mrs. James Fairgrave of Edinburgh, Edin, Scot


Margaret Fairgrave Edinburgh, Edin. Scotd.  died 1852

Andrew of Carder Bank, Lanark, Scot

Ann of Edinburgh, Edin, Scot

Marion of Edin, Edin Scot

Andrew Gardiner of Carder Bank, Lanark, Scot

Ann Fairgrave


Will Angus Patterson of Passaic Co. N.J.

Marian Fairgrave of Edinburgh, Edin, Scot

Margaret Fairgrieve's parentage has been established by information in James A. Cameron's temple record book, Catherine Cameron Southam's temple record book, letters to Margaret in the possession of her descendants, Christian Fairgrieve's marriage record, and death certificates for Andrew Fairgrieve and Christina Fairgrieve Gardner. The death certificates for both Andrew and Christina list their parents as James Fairgrieve, farmer and Margaret Fairgrieve, maiden name Morrison.

Andrew Fairgrieve's death certificate

Christina Fairgrieve Gardner's death certificate

The St. Cuthbert parish register shows a marriage for Christina Fairgrieve and Andrew Armstrong Gardener, 13 July 1837 in St. Cuthberts, Endinburgh. The banns were also read for Christian Fairgrieve and Andrew Armstrong Gardner 8 July 1837 in Canongate, Edinburgh. The marriage record for Christina is as follows:

July 13 1837
Andrew Armstrong Gardener of the Edinburgh Gas Light Company, residing in No. 17 St. Patrick Square in this parish, and Christina Fairgrieve, residing in No. 19 St. John's Street of the parish of Canongate, daughter of the late James Fairgrieve, sometime Farmer at Fallhills in the parish of Penicuik, have been three several times duly and regularly proclaimed in order to marriage, in the parish church of St. Cuthberts, and no objections offered.
Married on the Thirteenth day of July current by the Reverend Alexander Crawford one of the Ministers of the Synod of Ulster at Randalstown Ireland.
(Source: FHL# 1066765)

Banns were also read in Canongate for Andrew Gardner and Christian Fairgrieve. Letters to Margaret Fairgrieve, from her sister Christina of 17 St. Patrick Square, prove that Ann and Christina or Christian are the same person. They also show that Margaret and Christina's father was James Fairgrieve, a farmer of Fallhills, Penicuik, and that he was deceased by July of 1837.

Other letters link Maria Angus, the wife of Will Angus of Patterson, New Jersey, to Margaret. Researcher Dorothy Hein has also found Maria, wife of Will Patterson, in the 1860 Eastward Patterson, Passaic, New Jersey census. In the census, Maria is listed at 50 years old, making a birthdate of 1810. Maria and Marion are the same person.

The complete text of the marriage of James Fairgrieve and Margaret Murdison is found in the Peebles parish register:

13 June 1802

James Fairgrieve, farmer in the parish of Lasswade and Margaret Murdison, daughter of Andrew Murdison, tenant in Newbie in this parish were proclaimed in order to marriage, and were married on the 9th by the Rev. Dr. William Dalgliesh.
The marriage banns for James and Margaret were also proclaimed in Lasswade:

12 June 1802
James Feargrives in this parish and Margaret Murderson in the parish of Peebles have published and proclaimed in order to marriage.
(Lasswade parish register FHS #1067764)

James is listed as being a farmer of Lasswade in his marriage record. Lasswade is a parish in Midlothian (Edinburghshire) to the northeast of Peebles. “The town stands on the left bank of the North Esk, but includes the suburb of Westmill in Cockpen parish, with which it is connected by a substantial stone bridge. Lasswade parish is bounded N by Colinton, Liberton, and Newton, W by Glencorse, S by Penicuik and Carrington, and E by Cockpen, Newbattle, Dalkeith. A projecting wing at the NW extremity is occupied by the E end of the Pentland Hills, presenting partly heath and partly good pasture; and in the S, a district of bleak and unsheltered moorland, including some of the northern declivities of the Moorfoot Hills, stretches for about 2 miles into the interior. The surface on the whole declines rapidly from the border towards the SE, and consists of rich and well-cultivated plain, finely wooded, and of picturesquely diversified scenery.” (Extract from Groomes Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland c.1895)

The following James Fairgrieves are christened in the time period of 1770-1784:

27 March 1772   James, son of William Feargrieve, farmer in Rosewell Dea, and Marion Hunter in Lasswade. (This christening record is found in the Lasswade parish register on the page for the year 1797.)

8 December 1776  James, son of John Fairgrieve and Elizabeth Cathe in Newton.

1 November 1778  James, son of James Fairgrieve and Marion Brymer in Dalkeith.

14 January 1782   James, son of Thomas Fairgrieve and Janet Skirving in St. Cuthberts, Edinburgh.

1 June 1782   James, son of Andrew Fairgrieve, weaver in Whitebaugh, and Martha Baillie in Carrington.

18 May 1783   James, son of James Fairgrieve and Margaret Johnston in Liberton.

The James Fairgrieve who was born in Lasswade is the most probable. Lasswade is listed as James Fairgrieve’s parish at the time of his marriage. This is the only James Fairgrieve born in that parish. He would have been 30 years old at the time of his marriage to Margaret Murdison, and could have been an established farmer of Lasswade. His mother’s name was Marion, and our James Fairgrieve named one of his older daughters Marion or Maria. This follows the Scottish naming tradition. 

James Fairgrieve Horse Tax

James Fairgrieve is listed on a horse tax list of 1797 near Andrew, James, and William Murdison:

Masters/Mistresses Names      Number of Horses     Duty
James Fairgrieve Soonup Mill              2                   0.4.0

(shown as Soonhope Mill on another tax list)

Farm Horse Tax Rolls 1797-1798 on, Volume 4

Fairgrieve Murdison Horse Tax

Horse tax roll showing the Murdisons (James, William and Andrew of Newbie) at the top
and James Fairgrieve of Soonup Mill at the bottom.

Soonhope Mill

Soonhope Mill

James Fairgrieve of Peebles appears in court records of the Procurator Fiscal of the Sheriff Court of Peebles:

On 17 January 1831, James Fairgrieve was fined 2 l., and John Robertson 10 s., applied in defraying expenses of the proceedings.

On 24 February 1832, James Fairgrieve was fined 1 l. 10 s., which was applied in the same manner.

(Emoluments of Procurators Fiscal, Scotland in Parliamentary Papers, 1780-1849, vol. 48, page 74.)


James’ parents, William Fairgrieve and Marion Hunter were married on 8 June 1759 in Carrington. William is listed in the IGI as being born in about 1734, of Boatchrigg, Carrington. Additional research gives us William's parentage, listed below.



William Fairgrieve was christened 19 March 1732 in Lasswade, the son of Henry Fairgrieve and Jean McMillan. He married Marion Hunter 8 June 1759 in Carrington, Midlothian, Scotland. Marion was the daughter of James Hunter and Marion Anderson of Temple parish, Midlothian. Henry and Marion had the following children:

1. Christian, (female) christened 22 July 1760 in Lasswade; married John Draver or Drover 24 June 1792 in Lasswade, banns also read 23 June 1792 in Cockpen.

*2. James, born 19 March 1772 in Lasswade; christened 27 March 1772 in Lasswade; christening recorded on Lasswade parish register in 1797; married Margaret Murdison 13 June 1802 in Peebles.

SOURCE: Scottish Church Records CD; IGI; Lasswade parish registers; Peebles parish registers; George Fairgrieve historic database.



Henry Fairgrieve was christened 12 January 1701 in Liberton, Midlothian, Scotland, the son of William Fairgrieve and Margaret Smith. He is sometimes called Harie or Hendrie in the records. He married Jean McMillan 21 May 1725 in Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland. Jean was christened 6 September 1701 in Dalkeith, Midlothian, the daughter of Andrew Mcmillan and Elizabeth Henderson.

Henry and Jean had the following children:

1. James,  christened 20 August 1721 in Lasswade.

2. Margaret, christened 19 December 1729 in Lasswade.

*3. William, christened 19 March 1732 in Lasswade; married Marion Hunter 8 June 1759 in Carrington, Midlothian, Scotland.

4. Andrew, christened 31 May 1732 in Cockpen, Midlothian, Scotland.

5. Jean, born 2 June 1739 in Carrington; christened 4 June 1739 in Carrington.

6. Janet, born 12 October 1741 in Carrington; christened 18 October 1741 in Carrington.

Jean must have died, and then Henry married her younger sister, Bessie Mcmillan.

Henry and Bessie had the following child:

7. Bessie, born 10 August 1743 in Carrington; christened 14 August 1743 in Carrington.


SOURCE: Scottish Church Records CD; IGI; Lasswade parish registers; Carrington parish register; James Alexander Cameron Temple Book; George Fairgrieve historic database.



William Fairgrieve married Margaret Smith 11 December 1685 in Newton, Midlothian, Scotland. William and Margaret had the following children:

1. Jenet,  christened 5 May 1687 in Newton.

2. Thomas, christened 9 May 1698 in Newton.

*3. Henry, christened 12 January 1701 in Liberton, Midlothian, Scotland; married Jean McMillan 21 May 1725 in Lasswade.

4. Robert, christened 13 April 1703 in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland; married Jean McMillan 2 December 1726 in Dalkeith.

SOURCE: Scottish Church Records CD; IGI; George Fairgrieve historic database.

William Fairgrieve was born in about 1660. No christening record has been found yet for him, but the search continues. The following list sorts Fairgrieve families in Scotland from the 1680s back, by date and location. Information was taken from the Scottish Church Records (SCR), IGI, parish registers for Lasswade, Peebles, and Carrington (on microfilm), the Fairgrieve Historic database compiled by George Fairgrieve (GF), and research performed for James A. Cameron (JAC).


James Fairgrieve and Eupham Smith

Married 18 December 1655 in Carrington
John, born 1656 of Carrington
(Source – JAC)



Robert Fairgrieve
Alexander, born 1653 in Newbattle
Jenot, born 1654 in Newbattle
Bessie, born 1656 in Newbattle
Hillin, born 1657 in Newbattle
Margaret, born 1658 in Newbattle

(Source - GF)

Patrick Fairgrieve and Bessie McConnel
Marion Issobell, born 1662 in Newbattle
Elspett, born 1664 in Newbattle
James, born 1669 in Newbattle
Suzanna, born 1671 in Newbattle
Anna, born 1673 in Newbattle

(Source - GF)

John Fairgrieve and Jenet Burne
Married 1659 in Newbattle
Anna, born 1660 in Newbattle
Jenot, born 1664 in Newbattle
Thomas, born 1666 in Newbattle
Agnas, born 1666 in Newbattle
Margaret, born 1668 in Newbattle
Bethea, born 1674 in Newbattle

(Source - GF)

Robert Fairgrieve and Christian Berrie
Married 1668 in Newbattle
(Source - GF)

William Fairgrieve and Marjori Panton
Married 1660 in New battle
(Source - GF)


John Fairgrieve and Jannet Anderson
Maryon, born 1667 in Dalkeith
John, born 1679 in Dalkeith

(Source - GF)


Thomas Fairgrieve and Elspith Warrander
Married 9 August 1656 in Haddington
Beatrix, born 1657 in Haddington; married John Simpson 1681 in Haddington

(Source - GF)
John Fairgrieve and Agnis Plaine
Married 5 June 1655
(Source - GF)
Marion, born 1660 in Pentcaitland
Elizabeth, born 1663 in Pentcaitland
(Source – SCR)
Jean, born 1666 in Pentcaitland
Margaret, born 1668 in Pentcaitland
(Source - GF)

James Fairgrieve and Isabel Davidson
Elizabethe, born 1643 in Tranent
George, born 1644 in Tranent

(Source - GF)

James Fairgrieve and Janet Sawers
Married 1680 in Tranent
(Source - GF)

James Fairgrieve
Johnne, born 1636 in Innerwick
Jean, born 1638 in Innerwick
James, born 1642 in Innerwick
(Source - GF)
George Fairgrieve
Marion, born 1674 in Channelkirk
Agnass, born 1675 in Channelkirk
James, born 1681 in Channelkirk
Marione, born 1693 in Channelkirk
(Source - GF)
David Fairgrieve
John, born 1654 in Oldhamstocks
(Source - GF)


Johnne Fairgrieve and Jonnet Buyde
Married 1642 in Tranent
(Source - GF)


James Fairgrieve and Margaret Miller married in 1597 in Edinburgh

(Source – IGI)
John Fairgrieve and Helen Brown
Helen, born 1631 in Edinburgh
(Source – SCR)
James Fairgrieve and Isobell Watson
Married 1666 in Edinburgh
(Source – IGI)
James, born 1666 in Edinburgh
Robert, born 1667 in Edinburgh
Marion, born 1669 in Edinburgh
Isobell, born 1671 in Edinburgh
Bessie, born 1673 in Edinburgh
Robert, born 1675 in Edinburgh
Catherine, born 1678 in Edinburgh
(Source – SCR)

William Fairgrieve and Elspeth Wood
Married 1669 in Edinburgh
(Source - GF)


James Fairgrieve and Marione Heislope
Married 1650 in Stow
(Source - GF)


James Fairgrieve and Margaret Steill

Sara, born 1675 in Humbie
Helen, born 1677 in Humbie
(Source – SCR)



David Fairgrieve and Marion Buchanan

Bessie, born 1574 in Aberdeen
(Source - GF)


In the process of research, a good deal of information has been gathered about the Fairgrieves in Scotland from 1574-1750. If you are interested in these family groups, click here to view information on early Fairgrieve families.



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