As I’ve said earlier, I am no expert but with my limited understanding I’d like to put forward a possible explanation for the origins of the Fairweathers. William Don states: “The Fairweather’s as a race are undoubtedly Norse; or at least Teutonic; I have never known any of them to show a Celtic strain.”
Given my own DNA results and research, I’d re-phrase the above: “the Fairweathers are probably Teutonic and may be related to the Vikings. They are not Celtic.” However, I do wonder if they can be classed as a race. I have come to the conclusion there may have been families or groups of families who worked as shepherds and farmers in or nearby those of other races and took part in the migrations of Germanic peoples across Europe. They are likely to have travelled northwards, perhaps mingled with the Vikings, Danes or any of the other Germanic tribes. They may even have had Viking blood as there is at least one shared DNA marker. Others with the same name, as a result of their occupation, came to England with the Normans. How much DNA they shared with their northern cousins is unclear. There were known pockets of Fairweather’s in East Anglia and in Angus and it would be interesting to know if the English group share similar DNA markers. I wonder how long we’d need to go back to find any direct linkage between the Scottish and English Fairweather’s. It does seem that from one or other of these two main groups, the Fairweather’s of today can trace their roots.
But there is a flaw in the argument. Any explanation that uses the modern name “fairweather” as the starting point is likely to arrive at the wrong conclusion. It’s pretty clear that the word has its roots in older spellings such as “fairvedder”, “fawvedder”, Farewethir, Farewedder, Fairwodder. So simplistically explaining it as someone with a “sunny disposition” or from the Bible “fair weather cometh out of the north”, or I have done, using the modern word to describe an activity, in actual fact, all miss the point. What did the root word mean? What are its origins? If we knew that then we might arrive at better explanations.
Recently, a friend with knowledge of the old Flemish language has proposed another possible origin. Bear in mind that my DNA places our origins in the low countries of Europe, currently the Benelux countries, and historically referred to as “Germanic Peoples”. Two words occur that may offer a more credible explanation of the name. “Fähre” is a word in old Flemish that means “ferry”. Wedde is a small village in the Netherlands and is also an old German word for “salary” or payment. Could it be that the Fairweather name, which early on was spelt as “Faarwedder”, has its origins as the occupation of a ferryman? In that part of the world a ferryman would be a fairly common occupation. This explanation seems more credible as it links the language and an occupation to the geographical origins of the Fairweather DNA in the low countries.