Fairlie Clan History

The family takes its name from the barony of Fairley in the parish of Largs. It is said that the Ayrshire family of this name were descended from Robert de Ross, a branch of the Rosses of Tarbert in Cunningham who had the lands of Fairley. These Fairlies held the title ‘Fairlie of that Ilk’.

Fairlie of that Ilk (Chief of the name)

The coat of arms were argent, three water budgets (leather bag for carrying water) sable and a chevron as a mark of distinction from the Ross family.

William de Fairlie in 1335 was included in a pardon granted by Edward III at Berwick on Tweed.

Sir Robert Fairlie of that Ilk built Fairlie Castle (above) in 1521.

Catherine Crawford of Kilbirnie married David Fairlie in 1526. Their son was called Robert.

In 1605 Sir John Fairlie of that Ilk obtained a charter of the ten merk land of Fairlie. Sir John and his wife Marion Crawford of Jordanhill had a daughter called Marion who went on to marry Thomas Boyd of Linn and later remarried into the ancestral line of the Marquis of Bute.

The last member of the Fairlie family (The title Fairlie of that ilk is now extinct) sold the castle, the barony and its lands to David, first Earl of Glasgow in around 1650.

Fairlies of Braid

The area of The Hermitage of Braid (area between the Braid Hills and Blackford Hill) was awarded to William Fairley for his part in a daring raid on Edinburgh Castle in 1341. He upturned a cart loaded with wine and food, under the portcullis gate, and captured the castle from the English.

In 1585 Edinburgh was in the grip of the Black Death and thousands died. Sir Robert Fairley, who owned Braid at that time, provided ale from his brewhouses to relieve plague victims.

In 1485 James Fairlie came into ownership the lands and barony of Braid making him James Fairlie of Braid and starting a branch of Fairlies of Braid. The Fairlie family continued to own this land until 1631, when Sir Robert Fairlie sold Braid to Sir William Dick, later styled Sir William Dick of Braid.

Braid Castle stood above the Braid Burn from the 12th to the 18th centuries. Sadly nothing exist of this.

The Fairlies of Bruntsfield

These were a cadet family of the Fairlies of Braid. They are said to have been descended the son of King Robert. This is echoed in the arms of The Fairlies of Bruntsfield – a red lion rampant on a gold shield of the royal house.

A separate branch from the Fairlie of that ilk in Ayrshire.

In 1603 , John Fairlie, burgess in Edinburgh, received, by charter from Alexander Lauder of Halton, the lands of Bruntsfield, originally Brownsfield, from Richard Brown of Burrowmuir, to whom they at one time belonged.

John had a son called William Fairlie who was knighted. This was disposed of to his son, also called William Fairlie.

The son of this William, also William Fairlie of Bruntsfield, acquired the lands of little Dreghorn in Ayrshire, by purchase from the family of Fullarton, and in 1689 was appointed one of the commissioners for ordering out the militia.

William married Dame Jean Mure of Rowallan the dole heiress. Tradition still points out the spot where Fairlie was married to the heiress of Rowallan. The ceremony was performed by a curate, in the fields about a quarter of a milt from the house of Rowallan, at a tree, still called the marriage tree, which stands on the top of a steep bank, above that part of the stream called ‘Janet’s Kirn’, Scots for ‘churn.’

His son, William, on succeeding to the estates, dropped the designation of Bruntsfield, and assumed that of Fairlie, the name now given to the lands of Little Dreghorn, which had been acquired by his father.

William, his son by his first wife, Catherine, daughter of Thomas Brisbane of that ilk, had a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Margaret. His second wife, by whom he had a daughter who died in infancy, was Elizabeth Craufurd, second daughter of John Craufurd of Craufurdland, who survived him more than sixty years, and remarried, in 1744, John Howieson of Braehead, in the county of Edinburgh.

Alexander Fairlie, the son, a gentleman of considerable talent, took a lead in most matters relating to the county of Ayr in his time, and was a great promoter of agricultural improvement. He died, unmarried,, and was succeeded by his sister, Margaret Fairlie of Fairlie.

Fairlie-Cuninghame Baronets

This title was created own 25 November 1630 for David Cuninghame, Master of the Works to James VI. The fifth Baronet married Margaret, daughter of William Fairlie, to whose estates he succeeded. The sixth Baronet assumed the additional surname of Fairlie.

The thirteenth Baronet assumed by deed poll the surname of Fairlie-Cuninghame in 1912, in lieu of his patronymic, Cuninghame. The current holder of the title, Robert Fairlie-Cuninghame, lives in Australia.