The information on these pages comes from Ethel Dougherty who has researched the history of Fairlambs in the United States from initial emigration in 1700 to the present.



email Ethel if you have any information that might be relevant to the family tree, especially any leads on tracing the British ancestry of Nicholas Fairlamb (1678-1722).

Follow the links above to search the family tree, or to view a comprehensive notes page containing information on the family.


These pages were last updated on:

09/09/07- Hosted on new server

03/13/05 - Search facility and information on living persons removed.

01/29/04 - New lead on the origins of the first Fairlamb to come to America.




This main page concentrates on just a few Fairlambs of interest from 1700-1900.


The First Settler - Nicholas Fairlamb 1678-1722
Colonial Civic Service - John Fairlamb 1713-1766
The War of Independence - Nicholas II Fairlamb 1743-1816
Civil Engineer - Jonas Preston Fairlamb 1785-1860
Criminal Lawyer - Jonas Preston II Fairlamb 1812-1851
Composer - James Remington Fairlamb 1838-1908

The First Settler - Nicholas Fairlamb 1678-1722

Nicholas Fairlamb came to America in the summer of 1700. He was around 21/22 years old, carrying a certificate from authorities in Stockton, County Durham.

Until recently it was supposed that Nicholas was born in Stockton, but there is no direct evidence to suggest it, and indeed the the certificate itself only refers to his having lived in Stockton since the time 'of his apprenticeship'. Boys were generally apprenticed between the ages of 7 and 14.


Family Origins in Northern England

click to enlarge

Recent evidence found on the web, and corroborated somewhat by Ethel through information from Walter Borg, suggests Nicholas may have come from Hexham in Northumberland. A Nicholas Fairlamb married Mariam Leonard there, on July 20th 1677. They had a son, also Nicholas, who was baptised on November 19th 1679.

This child would have been 21 in 1700, which is when Nicholas Fairlamb arrived in America. There may also be a clue to his having been apprenticed in Stockton - his mother's family (the Leonards) seem to have travelled around a fair deal in Tynedale, Allendale, Weardale and Teesdale, including Stockton itself. Such movement, even within an area of 50 miles, was unusual in those days. Perhaps he was apprenticed to a close family relative.

The Fairlambs are known to have originated in Cumberland, in north-western England and gradually moved eastwards in the 16th and 17th centuries. See the location map for more detail. More research needs to be done, but there also seems to be a link between the Fairlambs of Hexham (and thus the USA) and the Fairlambs of Allendale. A Samuel Fairlamb, son of Nicholas Fairlamb of Bishopside, Allendale, married a Hexham girl in 1658. Hexham is the main market town in the area, 10 miles east of Allendale. Nicholas (b.1679) is listed as the grandson of that Samuel on the Joiner List on the internet.

Joiner List

Nicholas Farlame, of Bishopside in Eastalandaile (Allendale)

son Samuel married Mary Bee 1658, in Hexham

had son Nicholas who married Mariam Leonard 1677, in Hexham

had son Nicholas, born 1679, who married Catherine Crosby, in Chester PA

had son Samuel

Closer examination of the Hexham Parish Registers may confirm this.

A Bustling Port - Stockton-on-Tees

Stockton QuaysideStockton was a small market town from 1310. Being on the River Tees and with access to the North Sea, it grew into a busy little port exporting wool and importing wine. In 1642 came civil war and in 1644-46 Stockton was occupied by the Scottish army.

By the late 17th century, at the time of Nicholas Fairlamb's apprenticeship, Stockton began to flourish. The shipbuilding industry prospered, together with the sailmaking and ropemaking industries. The port itself also flourished. Stockton began to take over Yarm's role as the main port on the River Tees and directed wine and raisins, coal, glass and household goods along the east coast of England. International routes, principally supporting Baltic trade, also developed.

The dynamic bustling environment was ideal for expanding a young man's horizons and view of the world. Through the comings and goings at Stockton, Nicholas would have been exposed to the opportunities available to him in London, Northern Germany, and the exciting new world of America.

Sailing to America

Whatever his orgins, Nicholas Fairlamb first settled in Philadelphia, where the Minutes of the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, dated 9mo. 29, 1700, record that:

"Nicholas Fairlamb's certificate from Stockton in the Bishoprick of Durham was read and approved. Nicholas Fairlamb Hath lived and belonged to our meeting the time of his apprenticeship and since he hath been loose from his Mr. being seaven years hath behaved himselfe orderly and honestly."

By June 1703 he had proposed marriage to Katherine Crosby of Middletown, Pennsylvania. The minutes of the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, dated 6/27/1703 state: "Nicholas Fairlamb intimating his Intention of marriage with a young woman in Chester County , desired a Certificate from hence to the monthly meeting where she belongs."

Once Nicholas had moved to Middletown, the marriage between Nicholas and Katharine was proposed in the Chester Monthly Meeting for the second time on 8mo. 25, 1703 and must have taken place soon after. Katharine's father Richard had come from London or Sussex as early as 1682. Part of his lands were located in Middletown, but he resided near Chester in Ridley Township.

Life in Chester

Later Nicholas and Katharine lived in Chester, where they raised 6 children. For several years he was clerk of the Monthly Meeting and she was one of the overseers.

Nicholas served also as a member of the Assembly from Chester County from 1704 to 1706 and from 1711 to 1714. He became Justice of the Peace in Chester County, May 30, 1715; Associate Judge of the Court in 1715; and Sheriff of the county 1717 to 1719. In early times the office of sheriff was not so profitable as later, and as a sort of perquisite, the sheriff was allowed to keep tavern. Hence, we find Nicholas Fairlamb, a newly elected sheriff, petitioning to the court to be recommended for a license. In later times the tavern was kept in the dwelling apartment of the prison. From time to time the Fairlamb named crops up in documents of the time.

On March 1, 1711 Richard Crosby of Ridley, Yeoman, and his wife Eleanor, and Nicholas Fairlamb of Chester, merchant and his wife Katharine, conveyed to William Pennell 270 acres of land in Middletown, which Richard had given, but not conveyed to Nicholas and his wife. On March 25 of the following year Caleb Pusey and Henry Worley conveyed to Nicholas Fairlamb, John Sharpless, John Smith, Thomas Vernon, James Lownes and Joseph Vernon a lot of 103 perches (a perch is 16 1/2 feet) by 1-4 feet in Chester for the use of the Meeting.

The will of Nicholas Fairlamb was probated October 22, 1722 (Chester County Wills). His wife Katharine was administrator. No record of where he is buried has yet been found.

Colonial Civic Service - John Fairlamb 1713-1766

John Fairlamb was the second son of Nicholas and Katherine. He lived most of his life in Middletown,Chester County (later Delaware Co), Pa. In 1752 he served as Commissioner of Chester County his duties similar to justices, grand jury and assessors. Commissioners were required to issue precepts to the constable, requiring them to make returns to the assessors of the names and estates of the inhabitants and the assessors were required to lay the rates herein.

From 1755-58 and again from 1762-63, he served as Sheriff. In 1761 and 1764 he was the Justice of the Peace. He was also one of about eight from Chester County serving as a member of the assembly in 1764 and 1765. In Chester County Rates of 1765, he was listed as owning 350 acres, six horses, ten cattle and fifteen sheep.

As assessor, John Fairlamb signed the following document:

"We the Subscribers and Each of us do Solemnly, Sincerely and Truly, Declare and Affirm that we will, Well and Truly Cause the County Debts to be speedily Adjusted and the Rates and Sums of Money by Virtue of the Said Acts Imposed, to be duly and Equally assessed and Laid According to the best of our Skill and Knowledge and herein we will Spare no person for favour or affection Nor Grieve any for hatred or Ill will, As Witness our Hands the Twenty-Seventh day of November, Anno Dom. 1750."

After John Fairlamb's death in 1766, his widow married Robert Pennell, son of William amd Mary Pennell, 11-9-1769. Susanna died in 1793. John was buried in Friend's Cemetery, Edgmont Avenue, Chester, Del. Co. Pa. The graves were later moved to Friends Cemetery, 24th & Providence in Chester in a mass grave, no markers remaining, to make room for stores. It became a wasteland, not only to disturb the graves, but because in moving them the list of graves was lost.

The War of Independence - Nicholas II Fairlamb 1743-1816

The son of John Fairlamb, Nicholas lived his whole life in Chester County. In 1769 a group interested in establishing a library met and formed themselves into a company. The library opened in 1770 with Nicholas as one of the five directors. That same year according to the Chester County Rates, Nicholas owned 200 acres, 3 horses, 4 cattle and 11 sheep.

At a meeting held December 20,1774 at the Court House in Chester County, Nicholas and his brother Samuel Fairlamb were selected to be on a committee of sixty-nine members "to carry into execution the association of the Continental Congress". (They were authorized to) "continue until one month after the adjournment of the next Continental Congress and to transmit such business and to enter into such associates as to them might appear expedient."

On June 30th 1775, the assembly appointed a committee of safety, including five members from Chester County. Benjamin Franklin was made President. In October the committee was reorganized, and Nicholas Fairlamb was added to their number. "There were a considerable number of Quakers who openly advocated a resort to arms." Even within the limits of this little county, one hundred and ten men were disowned by the society for having entered the service of their county."

Nicholas and Samuel were complained about for joining combatants and resisting Civil Government. Both these actions were inconsistent with the principles of the meeting, and were disowned in 1775, as was their brother Frederick Fairlamb. On May 17, 1777 Nicholas Fairlamb was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel in the Sixth Battalion of the Chester County Militia. He served on Anthony Wayne's staff and assisted in the capture of Stoney Point; in his Quaker garb he rode through British line to Harrisburg and received arms and association, which he covered with hay and took back to his company in Chester.

After the war, Nicholas served as Sheriff from 1789 to 1796, and in 1798 he was made Justice of the Peace for Middletown.

Civil Engineer - Jonas Preston Fairlamb 1785-1860

The only son of Nicholas II Fairlamb, Jonas Preston became one of the most widely known civil engineers of his day and was regarded as a man of unusual capacity in his profession.

"J. P. Fairlamb made the first surveys for the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company. He also superintended the first establishment of the waterworks in Wilmington and though many predicted his effort would result in failure, nothing daunted, he, confident in his own conclusion, went energetically to work and completed the enterprise with perfect success. He was a man of most positive convictions and could not be moved from his purpose by arguments whose force and correctness did not commend themselves to his discernment. He died in 1860 in full communion of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, lamented by his friends and respected by the entire community."

- (J. Thomas Scharf) "The History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Vol I (2), pp426-7

Criminal Lawyer - Jonas Preston II Fairlamb 1812-1851

Son of JP Fairlamb, he was an attorney at the Law in Philadelphia's North Ward, and was a very successful criminal lawyer. He also served in the U.S. Army as Colonel of the First Regiment of Volunteer Infantry of the First Brigade. In the first page of the New York Times, October 5th,1852, appears the following item under the headline:

"Shooting in Philadelphia.- Oct. 4, 1852, Colonel Fairlamb, a member of the bar was shot this morning in front of the Criminal Court, by Ephrain Green, an old man whom Fairlamb was counsel in a suit several months ago. Green fired three balls from a revolver without effect, when he was arrested, and after a hearing before the court, was committed for trial."

Jonas Prestion II later died of pleurisy at his home on Summer Street.

Composer - James Remington Fairlamb 1838-1908

" A composer and organist, he was born in Philadelphia, Pa., the son of Col. Jonas Preston Fairlamb and his wife, Hannah Kennedy. He was playing in church at the age of fourteen, and before he was twenty had held the position of organist and choirmaster in several Philadelphia churches.

In 1858 he went to Europe, where, at the Paris Conservatory, he studied piano with Prudent and Marmontel, and voice with Masset. From Paris he passed to Florence and thence to Zürich with President Lincoln's appointment as United States consul to Switzerland. While in Stuttgart, King Karl of Würtemberg awarded him the "Gold Medal for Arts and Sciences" in recognition of his Te Deum for double chorus and orchestra, dedicated to that monarch.

In 1865 Fairlamb returned to the United States, and established himself in Washington, D. C., where he was active until 1872, as teacher and composer, and with an amateur opera company he himself had organized, produced his grand opera Valérie.

A prolific composer, Fairlamb published in all some two hundred compositions, including more than fifty choral works, sacred and secular, and over a hundred songs. Rupert Hughes has conveniently classified him among "The Colonists," i.e., the musical writers belonging to the specific city ganglia or colonies which he regards as a vital phase of American musical development.

He was.. an excellent example of the talented, foreign-trained American musician whose effort aided in establishing higher standards of taste and appreciation in his native land. There can be no question that his work as a composer was qualitative, and that many of his songs, in particular, have spontaneity and charm. He was one of the founders of the American Guild of Organists, and was identified with the first American productions of Sir Arthur Sullivan's Pinafore and The Sorcerer."

- Frederick Herman Martens, Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936