Tag Archives: Jonathan Fairbanks

Meet the Fairbanks Family

I’ve been doing a lot of work this week on the family of my great-great grandmother Annie Prescott Duff (1847-1930).  Annie’s son John Prescott Forrest married Lulu Cairns and John & Lulu were the parents of my father’s mother, Mildred Jean Forrest [Thomas].

Annie Prescott Duff

Annie was born in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada.  She had two brothers and two sisters, and was the daughter of a well-known Presbyterian minister in Nova Scotia.  She ended up marrying another well-known Presbyterian minister in Nova Scotia… my great-great grandfather John Forrest, about whom I’ve written several blogs and will probably write several more.

I spent a fair amount of time fleshing out the lives of Annie and her siblings, William Menzies Duff (1849-1920), Kenneth Kilgore Duff (1852-1925), Margaret Charlotte Duff (1853-1939) and Isabella Charlotte Duff (1854-1951).  Then I started getting into Annie’s father, the Reverend William Duff (born 1809), who ministered at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia from 1843 to 1880.  He was born in Perth, Scotland, and married Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks in 1847.  I was actually doing work on William when I came across a book that’s available on the Internet:


It’s called “Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America, 1633-1897” written by Lorenzo Sayles Fairbanks in 1897.  Once again, I am related to every person in the book, which is always a strange feeling.

The book mentions that my 3x great grandmother Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks was married to William Duff, “a Presbyterian minister of Perth, Scotland, officiating in Lunenburg, N.S.”.  That’s all it says about my grandmother, but there are little paragraphs describing each of my grandfathers going back to 1595 and Jolly Old England.  Let’s meet them briefly:

Jane Elizabeth’s father was John Eleazer Fairbanks (1793 – 1860) who was a merchant and member of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia.  He was a geologist and mineralogist who “accumulated a very fine collection of native and foreign minerals”.  He married his cousin, Ann Prescott, in 1816.

John’s father was Rufus Fairbanks (1759 – 1842) born in Killingly, CT and died in Halifax, N.S.  He graduated Dartmouth College (in Mass.) in 1784 and then moved to Halifax.  He was “a useful and public-spirited citizen, and a prominent magistrate”.  He “inherited a large property from his uncle [Joseph Fairbanks] on which he erected several buildings.  He gave his family every advantage in education and left his children the heritage of an upright and honorable name.”  He married Ann Prescott 12 Oct 1766.  Apparently Ann was the issue of two families (the Prescotts and the Blackdens) who were “families of high standing”.

Rufus’s father was the Reverand Eleazer Fairbanks (1716-1760), who was born in Sherborn, Mass and moved to Plainfield, Conn, then to Killingly, Conn.  He married Prudence Cary and had seven children.  He was a member of the congregational church from 1753 onward.

Eleazer’s father was Captain Eleasur Fairbanks (1690-1741), who was born and died in Sherborn, Mass.  He married the daughter of Captain Samuel Bullard, Martha, on Christmas Day 1712.  They had a dozen children, several of whom led noteworthy lives.

Captain Fairbanks’s father was Eliesur Fairbanks (1655-1741), who also lived in Sherborn, Mass.  He married Martha Lovett in 1676 and they had six children.

Eleisur’s father was Captain George Fairbanks (1619 – 1683) who came with his father from England and resided in Dedham, Mass until 1657 when they moved to Sherborn.  He was said to be the first settler there and “was an esteemed citizen and one of the selectmen, and a member of the Artillery Company”.  He drowned in 1682 or 3.  He was married in 1646 to Mary Adams and they had seven children.

George’s father was Jonathan Fairbanks (1595-1668), who was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, England and came to Boston in 1633 with his family.  He signed the Covenant when the town of Dedham, Mass. was established and named.  He married Grace Lee Smith and they had six children, all born in England prior to coming to the US.  Of him it was written, “Jonathan was evidently not of the lower classes, but had a fair education, and was a man of strong common sense, sound judgment and good executive ability.  He held some minor town offices [in Dedham, Mass.], but was not prominent in public affairs.  He appears rather as a sturdy, industrious, thrifty and independent pioneer, content to live and labor within the sphere in which is lot had been cast.”

The Fairbanks Coat of Arms

Jonathan built the “Fairbanks House” in Dedham, Mass about 1654, which still stands today.  He and his family lived there for several generations:

The Fairbanks House in Dedham, Mass.