We all wonder at one time or another, where our family came from or what gave rise to our surname. For those with the Fairweather name it is more of a mystery than most. There seem to be few credible explanations for how we got our name. Many people are able to link their name to a clan, a location or an occupation. Despite having been settled in England and Scotland for a number of centuries there has never been, as far as I am aware, any group or clan of Fairweather’s. Certainly in Scotland we have no obvious clan or historic family affiliation.
We have this from the Memorandum regarding the Fairweathers of Menmuir Parish
1ST of the principal persons of the modern name Fairweather, as recorded in East Scotland previous to the last quarter of the 18th century : say from 1453 to 1779 — Robert Wedyr, Finlarg, Tealing, 1453. — James II. Walter Fairvedder, Presbyter, Notary Public, 1547 to 1563. — Queen Mary Stuart. Thomas Fairvedder, 1583 j Litsters or Dyers, Dundee. Robert Fairvedder, 1609 ) James VL John Fairvvedder, Falkland, 1591, „ „ James Fawvedles or Fawvedder, 1609, Blairno, Lethnot, James VI. Hendrie Fairvedder, Menmuir, 1609 — 1622 ,, ,, John Fairvedder, Blackhall, Menmuir, 1644—1676, Charles I.-II. Hendrie Fairvedder, Braco, Menmuir, 1644 — 1670, John Fairvooder, Brechin, 1649 Alexander ffairweather, Menmuir, 1678-1688, Andrew ffairweather, 1679-1681, Andrew ffairveather, Barns of Glamis, 1685,
My uncle and my father both spent time researching our family tree and traced our origins back to the county of Angus in Scotland to the early 18th Century. The earliest records in Scotland have Walter (Valtro) Farvedder in the years 1547/63 as Presbyter of Dunkeld, one of the oldest Christian centres dating back to before 600AD with a cathedral since 1127. I am now close to getting back into the 17th Century. These Fairweathers lived in places like Alyth, Brechin, Forfar, Kirriemuir, Menmuir, St Cyrus and Dundee. There seems to be two branches and I have yet to establish a link through the family tree although a DNA link exists. Our branch were farmers and weavers while another branch seems to have been mainly mill workers and weavers employed in the Dundee jute industry. At its height, the jute industry employed around 50,000 people in 60 factories during the 1860s and 1870s. Prior to that it had been the centre of a thriving textile industry. Robert Fairvedder, litster (wool dyer) was merchant burgess of Dundee in 1609. By 1700 there was a Fairweather Provost of Dundee. The first flax mill in Dundee was begun by Messrs Fairweather and Marr.
The following examples illustrate the name development: Christopher Farewethir (1472), William Farewedder (1547) and Robert Fairwodder (1609). Janet Fairweather is recorded in the Parish of Olrik, Scotland, in 1664. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnes Fairweder, which was dated 1274, Lincolnshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, ‘The Hammer of the Scots’, 1272-1308. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Read more: http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/fairweather#ixzz2ch4CKKXH
In Alyth which in the times of the episcopacy was a prebend of the cathedral of Dunkeld, and where our ancestors can be traced. The Fairweather’s appear to have been mainly weavers who progressed to merchant drapers and farmers. The children of weavers were frequently scholastically advanced because the weaver worked at home, hail rain or shine and was ideally placed to keep an eye on the children’s progress at school and the work of weaving did not interfere with conversation between parents and children.
Our family records go back to the times of the Jacobite rebellion and, so far as is known, Fairweathers not being a clan in the accepted use of the term managed to keep a low profile and maintained themselves in an independent position. Though not known to be related, the Rev Alex Fairweather of Maybole 1696/1740 was a Jacobite (?). Peter Fairweather, bakers assistant at Brechin was listed as a rebel. There is good reason to believe that other ancestors – the Ronaldsons, Falconers and Burnes and Lumsdains – were not helped by the outcome of the rebellion. While the Stobies appear to have been able to keep themselves in good repute.
As I grew up there was a general belief that we had Viking connections and that might explain the pockets of Fairweathers found mainly along the East Coast of Britain. That said, it has been generally assumed that many distinct Scottish clans have Viking connections. But recent DNA studies seem to be indicating this is not as widespread as previously thought. For example, the MacLeods of Skye have been regarded as being of Viking descent, as the surname means ‘son of Leod’. The name Leod is an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic name Leòd, which is thought to have been derived from an Old Norse name. But DNA studies show that the MacLeods largely belong to the same haplogroup as the rest of the population of Britain. Yet, the same R1b haplogroup is found in Norway with a 30% frequency.
What is true is that in the 7th and 8th centuries, the Vikings took control of the Western Isles of Scotland as far south as the Isle of Man. These islands became known to the Gaels as Innse-Gall, the Islands of the Foreigners. (More here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Isles). Not until the mid 13th century, did two Scottish kings, Alexander II and his son Alexander III, attempt to incorporate the region into their own realm. (More here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Largs)
Still unanswered is the question of a Fairweather link to the Vikings.