Jonathan Fairbanks, Sr.

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Jonathan Fairbanks, Sr.

Also Known As: "Jonathan Fairbanke", ""
Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Sowerby, West Riding, Yorkshire, England
Death: December 5, 1668 (74)
Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Fairbank and Isabelle Fairbanck
Husband of Grace Fairbanks
Father of George Fairbanks; John Fairbanks, II; Capt. George Fairbanks; Mary Smith; Jonathan Fairbanks, Jr. and 6 others
Brother of Ester Fayrbank; C Fairbanks; George Fairbank; John Fairbank; Joseph Fairbank and 1 other
Half brother of Marie Dean; Helen Fairbank; Joseph Fairbank; Anna Crook; Mary Fairbank and 4 others

Occupation: Came to Norfolk, MA 1633. He signed a will in 1668 in Dedham, MA, Wool merchant
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Jonathan Fairbanks, Sr.

Birth: 1595 West Yorkshire, England Death: Dec. 5, 1668 Dedham Norfolk County Massachusetts, USA

Jonathan Fairbanks, immigrant ancestor of the Dedham, Mass. Fairbanks family. He was b. during the 1590s, s. of John Fairbank(s) of greater Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England and either John's 2nd wife Isabella Staincliffe or 3rd wife Ellen Parker. Jonathan m. Grace Smith May 20, 1617 at Halifax and immigrated with his family to Boston, Mass. betw. 1633 and 1635 settling permanently by 1636 at Dedham, Mass.

Readers and fellow descendants are referred to the excellent research and conclusions regarding Jonathan's ancestry by two of his descendants in the July 2012 issue of the New England Historic Genealogical Register (166:165-187.)

Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbank(s) had six known children, all b. at one of several towns or villages at or near Halifax, England. At the time, the Church of England required children to be baptized at the parish where the parents were then residing:

• i. John Fairbanks, bapt. Feb. 8, 1617/8, d. Nov. 13, 1684; m. Mar. 16, 1641/2 at Dedham, Mass., Sarah Fiske. who d. Nov. 26, 1683 at Dedham. Eight children of the family.

• ii. George Fairbanks, bapt. Nov 28, 1619 at Shelf near Halifax, d. Jan. 10, 1680/1 at Medfield, Mass.; m. Oct. 26, 1646 at Dedham, Mary Adams, who d. Aug. 11, 1711.

• iii. Mary Fairbanks, bapt. in Feb. 1621/2 at Shelf near Halifax, d. June 4, 1684 at Dedham, Mass.; m. 1) Apr. 2, 1644 at Dedham, Mass., Michael Metcalf, Jr., b. or bapt. Aug. 29, 1620 at Norwich, England. Five children of the family. She m. 2) Aug. 2, 1654 at Dedham, Christopher Smith. They had one known child.

• iv. Jonas Fairbanks, bapt. Mar. 6, 1624/5, was killed in a massacre by the Indians Feb. 10, 1675/6 at Lancaster, Mass.; m. May 28, 1658 at Lancaster, Mass., Lydia Prescott where seven children are of record.

• v. Susan Fairbanks, bapt. Dec. 10, 1627 at Thorton-in-Craven near Halifax, d. July 8, 1659 at Dedham, Mass.; m. Oct. 12, 1647 at Dedham as his 1st wife, Sgt. Ralph Day. Five children of the family. Ralph m. 2) Nov. 15, 1659 at Dedham, Abigail Crafts, widow of John Ruggles, dau. of Lieut. Griffin and Alice Crafts of Roxbury, Mass.

• vi. Jonathan Fairbanks, Jr., b. circa 1630, d. Jan. 28, 1711/2 at Dedham, Mass.; m. Oct. 4, 1649 at Cambridge, Mass., Deborah Shepard, dau. of Edward Shepard and Violet Charnould, who d. Sept. 7, 1705 at Dedham. Eight children of the family.

Updated March 21, 2013.

Family links:

 Grace Smith Fairbanks (1597 - 1673)*

 John Fairbanks (1618 - 1684)*
 George Fairbanks (1619 - 1683)*
 Mary Fairbanks Smith (1622 - 1684)*
 Jonas Fairbanks (1625 - 1676)*
 Susan Fairbanks Day (1627 - 1659)*
  • Calculated relationship

Inscription: No gravestone is known to exist, or if it once existed has crumbled away with the passage of time. See note at the main page of the Old Village Cemetery of Dedham.

Burial: Old Village Cemetery Dedham Norfolk County Massachusetts, USA

Spelling variation: Fairebanke, Fairbank, & Fairbanks.

He came from Sowerby in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, to Boston, Mass., in the year 1633, and in 1636 settled in Dedham, MA, where he built the noted "Old Fairbanks House" which is still standing as an ancient landmark, the oldest dwelling house in New England that, for the same period of time, has been continuously owned and occupied by the builder and his lineal descendants. Only a few houses, or parts of houses of the same age remain, and most of these are in ruins. It is, moreover, a remarkable fact, perhaps unparalleled in this country, that during all this time, two and a half centuries, the estate has never had a mortgage incumbrance upon it.

Came to Norfolk, MA 1633. He signed a will in 1668 in Dedham, MA

Jonathan made John sole executor of the will. The father, it would seem, had a good opinion of the English law of primogeniture, and so John, his eldest son, came into possession of hte homestead. From that time down to July 1892 the old house was continuously occupied by him [John] and his descendents, Joseph, Joseph 2nd, Ebenezer, Ebenezer 2nd, Prudence, Sarah (Sally), Nancy and Rebevva, the last family tenants. In July 1892, the house was struck by lightening and considerably damaged. Miss Rebecca's pet dog, lying under the bed where she was sleeping, was killed, but she escaped with a severe shock. Shorly after this event, deeming the house no longer a desirable place of abode, she abandoned it, leaving a strange family in charge, and removed to Boston. Thus for the first time in over 250 years the old house was occupied by persons not "to the manor born." But after spedning several months in Boston, she returned to dwell in the time-honored mansion, of which she was then the sole owner, and was still living there in the Fall of 1896.

One of the founding fathers of Dedham, MA. Original builder of the Fairbanks's house which might be the oldest frame house in the country. This historical building is open to the public.

Jonathan Fairbanks (1594 – December 5, 1668[1]) was born in Heptonstall, Halifax, Yorkshire, England. He first built the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts which is today the oldest house in North America. He had "long stood off from the church upon some scruples about public profession of faith and the covenant, yet after divers loving conferences..., he made such a declaration of his faith and conversion to God and profession of subjection to the ordinances of Christ in the church that he was readily and gladly received by the whole church."

As was common at the time Jonathan used several spellings of his surname: Fairbanke, Fairebanke, Fayerbanke, and on his will Fairbanck. His sons and grandsons began spelling the name Fairbank or Fairbanks.

This is the Jonathan Fairbanke (or Fayrebanks, Fairbank, Fairbanks, etc) who was said to have come to Boston, MA from Sowerby, Yorkshire, England with four sons in the "Speedwell" and settled in Dedham, MA.

Some well-known descendants include US President William Howard Taft, US Vice President Charles Warren Fairbanks, both US Presidents Bush, and Emily Dickerson.

JONATHAN6 FAIRBANKS (JOHN5, GEORGE4, GILBERT3, JOHN2, WILLIAM1)42 was born 1594-1595 in Sowerby, Halifax, Yorkshire, England, and died December 05, 1668 in Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts. He married GRACE LEE SMITH May 20, 1617 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, daughter of SAMUEL SMITH and GRACE GAWKROGER.


i. JAMES7 FAIRBANKS, d. Abt. 1668.
ii. SARAH FAIRBANKS, d. Bef. 166857.

11. iii. JOHN FAIRBANKS, b. Abt. 1618, of Sowerby, West Riding, Yorkshire, England; d. November 13, 1684, Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts.

 12. iv. GEORGE FAIRBANKS, b. November 26, 1619, Sowerby, Halifax, Yorkshire, England; d. January 10, 1681/82, Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts.

13. v. MARY FAIRBANKS, b. April 18, 1622, Yorkshire, England; d. March 10, 1675/76, Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts

14. vi. JONAS FAIRBANKS, b. March 26, 1624, Sowerby, Halifax, Yorkshire, England; d. February 10, 1675/76, Lancaster, Worcester Co., Massachusetts.

15. vii. SUSAN FAIRBANKS, b. Abt. 1627, Thornton, G., Yorkshire, England; d. August 12, 1659, Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts - or 7/8/1659?

16. viii. JONATHAN FAIRBANKS, b. Abt. 1628, Sowerby, Halifax, Yorkshire, England; d. January 28, 1711/12, Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts.

17. ix. MARTHA PIDGE/FAIRBANKS, b. January 12, 1641/42 in Roxbury, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts, and died January 04, 1675/76. "Adopted child".

Birth order may not be accurate.

U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900

about Jonathan Fairbanks

Name: Jonathan Fairbanks

Gender: male

Birth Place: En

Birth Year: 1594

Spouse Name: Grace Smith Lee


Birth Place: En

Spouse Birth Year: 1600


Year: 1617

Number Pages: 3

Emigrated 1633 to Boston, Mass. Built Fairbanks House in Dedham, Mass in 1636
Immigration: 1633 Dedham, Norfolk County, MA.

Jonathan built the house in Dedham, near Boston, in 1636, which is said to be the oldest inhabited

dwelling-house in the United States. It now belongs to the Fairbanks Family Association, of which Vice-President Fairbanks, Prof. Henry Fairbanks, Ph. D., son of the inventor of the scales, the Marchioness of Donegal and others are distinguished members.

Jonathan Fairebanke came from Sowerby in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England,

to Boston, Mass., where he built the noted "Old Fairbanks House" which is still

standing as an ancient landmark, the oldest dwelling house in New England that,

for the same period of time, has been continuously owned and occupied by the

builder and his linear descendants. Only a few houses, or parts of houses, of

the same [?] remain, and most of these are in ruins. It is, moreover, a

remarkable fact, perhaps unparalleled in this country, that during all this

time, two and a half centuries, the estate has never had a mortgage incumbrance

[sic] upon it.

This house is now historically famous, and is an object of great interest to

many visitors to the old town of Dedham. On the 20th of June, 1895, a new Court

House was dedicated in that town and Hon. Frederick D. Ely delivered an

historical address on the occasion. Speaking of old landmarks he referred to

the old house in the following words:

"In a neighboring street stands a dwelling house, erected early in the last half

of the seventeenth century. It is warped and worn by the sunshine and the

storms of its nearly 250 years. Winter and summer, frost and heat have done

much to undermine its symmetry, and its leaning walls and sloping floors are

only held in place by its frame on massive oak. Yet hundreds, I may safely say

thousands of men and women come from far and near to view and examine the old

Fairbanks house in every minutest particular, while they scarcely accord a

passing glance to the magnificent and costly modern mansion on the opposite side

of the street."

It has been claimed the house was built in 1636. This claim has been the

subject of considerable discussion among historians. and is disputed on

historical grounds. One, at least, expresses the belief that it was not built

till about the year 1654. The chief reason assigned for his belief is that the

old house is a framed building of massive oak timber, and that there is no

historical evidence that any framed dwelling houses were erected in the town as

early as 1636. Against this alleged fact is the tradition that the frame of the

main part of the house, together with the bricks and tiles and windows, was

imported from England, and remained in Boston for several months before it was

carried to Dedham.

The truth is that the house was not built as it stands at one time, or in one

year; and it is certain that Jonathan owned a house situated probably on the

same lot in 1648. In the valuation of houses, made in that year for the purpose

of assessing the "country rate," there were enumerated eighty-one houses,

ranging in value from œ45, the highest, to œ2, the lowest, omitting fractions.

The valuation of Jonathan Fairbanke's house was œ28, and only eight houses were

estimated higher. The highest valuation, œ45, was placed upon the house of Rev.

John Allin, pastor of the church.

Subsequently, perhaps as late as 1654, a large addition was made to the original

building, which was called the new house, which is said to have been built for

the occupation of his son John after his marriage. In the Inventory of

Jonathan's personal estate taken after his death in 1668, some things are

mentioned as contained in certain "rooms of the new house." From these facts and circumstances, particularly the fact that he owned a lot of land prior to May 1637, it is not unreasonable to conclude that he built a house in 1636, or soon after, which is a part of the present building, or in a short time was replaced by a framed structure to which the addition was made some years later.

The town of Dedham was established and named by the General Court the "10th of ye 7 Moneth, 1636," upon a petition signed by twenty-two persons, in connection with a grant of land in addition to a "grante formerly made of a Plantacion above the Falls," with "Immunitie from publike Charges" for three years.

Thereupon the "Dedham Covenant" was drawn up and signed by the petitioners and others.

The covenant was in the nature of a mutual compact concerning the future management of the affairs of the town. It was signed by one hundred and twenty-five persons, and among them were Jonathan Fayerbanke, John Fayerbanke, George Fayerbanke and Jonathan Fayerbank, Jun. Not all of this number, however,subscribed in 1636, but some of them from time to time as they were admitted townsmen.


  • *******

His will of 1 June 1668, probated 26 Jan 1669, provides for or mentions wife Grace, eldest son John; sec. George; Mary, wife of Christopher Smith (misspelled in Gen Dict of 1st Sett.); third son Jonas; and Jonathan, the youngest; Sarah, eldest daughter of son John; son-in-law Ralph

Day, and each of the four children he had by my daughter Susan, his late wife and the largest portion to son John. He was probably from the West

Riding of Yorkshire, as the will of his uncle George calls him of Sowerby in that part of England. Source: Gen Dict of 1st Sett. of N E., page 135.

Here we run into a problem. The Fairbanks Family of the West files, along with Howard Dow Holm in Family Archive CD# 100, United

Ancestries 1500-1990, show Jonathan as the son of John Fairbanks. UA only lists one child: George, and places the birth of Jonathan at Thornton, probably meaning Thornton on Craiven, instead of Sowerby. Lawson is adamant that there is no evidence of birth at Sowerby. Where is the evidence that the birth occurred at Thornton or Thornton on Craiven? Lawson and others show him as the son of George. What source is used in Gen Dict to state that his uncle George calls him of Sowerby? Another problem is the presence of Richard Fairbanks in 1633 at the time of the arrival of the ship "Griffin". The Gen Dict states that there was a reunion with his children. Were they already here in the colonies? When did they arrive? Who were they? Were they on the other ship? Clearly, Richard received the charge of receiving the mails, which charge went with the Fairbanks house built in 1636, indicating some kind of connection between Richard and Jonathan. Could he have been an older son, not living at the time of Jonathan's will? Could he have been a brother, as some descendants allege? What is their documentation? Stephen M. Lawson, whose documentation of his sources is better than most, says: "Some sources suggest that Jonathan came from Sowerby, West Riding, Yorkshire, England to Boston in 1633 in the "Griffin", but without documentary evidence. Claims that he was the brother of Rihard FAIRNBANKS, or that he arrived aboard the "Speedwell" are also apparently without documentation. That does not mean they are not true. He further notes that Jonathan only named his 5 surviving children in his will, a common practice of the time. His will was dated Jun 1, 1668, and proved Jan 26, 1669. His estate was inventoried at 300 pounds sterling. Lawson also states the Jonathan was "Married in England, probably as stated in the following record: Parish in Halifax, West Riding, Yorkshire, Jonathan FAYRBANKE and Grace SMITH, of Warley, a neighboring hamlet, May 20, 1617.

More investigation needs to be done. The compiler of the Gen Dict of 1st Settlers of New England observes that he believes Jonathan to be the progenitor of all Fairbanks living in New England, and he well knew of Richard, for he lists him twice, once in volume 2, and again in volume 3.

file: g0000001.htm lists ancestry same as FFOW. webGED: MacDougall Genealogy Data Page file: wpga11.html lists Jonathan sans parents, and only lists children George, Mary and Susan.

Fairbanks Family of the West Version: American Genealogist/Stephen M. Lawson Version

William Fairbanke William Fairbanke

John Fairbanke & Margaret John Fairbanke Margaret

Gilbert Fairbanke & Janet Gilbert Fairbanke Jennet

John Fairbanke & Isabella Stancliffe George Fairbank Sibyl Wade

Jonathan Fairbanks George Fairbank Mary Farrer

Jonathan Fairbanks

Clearly, it is the first generation, or the father of Jonathan that is in question, and whether it is one or two generations to Gilbert. From Gilbert to John is 1505 to 1552. From Gilbert to George is 1505 to 1528, to George 1562 thence to Jonathan 1594. The Fairbanks record recognized the children named in the will of Gilbert, who are only numbers 5, 6, 7, and 8 (Michael (who married Jane Mitchell), Hugh, Dorothy, and Agnes (who married George Harrison). The Lawson record further adds the names William (who probably married Isabella Horton), Johanna and John (who married Jane Bannester), and, from the will of Jennet, George, Edward, Agnes (mentioned by the Fairbanks sources) and Elizabeth. The crux of the problem is here: John was the son of Gilbert and Jennet. Both sources agree. Was this John, who married 1st Jane Bannester, 2nd Ellen Parker, and 3rd Isabella Stancliffe the father of Jonathan, or was George, the eldest son, father of George, and grandfather of Jonathan? George's second son John, b. abt 1554 is listed as marrying Ellen Parker and Isabel Stancliffe, with an additional wife #1, unknown. Was Sybil Wade the first wife of Gilbert, or the first wife of George? *Documentation is needed to clarify this situation. All of the ordinance work done beyond Jonathan is in question. All ordinance work shown on these sheets is from the Fairbanks records, following the Fairbanks lines.

Lawson lists 6 children, namely John, George, Mary, Jonas, Susan and Jonathan. He does not list Sarah, James and Martha, who died prior to their father, and hence were not mentioned in the will. Same for Demaree (file: fam00405.htm) Lawson also gives the following information: He moved to Dedham, Ma. by 1636 when he build his house there. The house at 511 East Street, Dedham, was build of timbers brought from England, and may well be the oldest frame house in America. It is probably unique also because it has been occupied by the same family for nearly 350 years,and has never been deeded or mortgaged! He signed the Covenant of Dedham, Ma. His will, dated Jun 1, 1668 and proved Jan. 26, 1669 names wife and his five surviving children. Estate inventoried at 300 pounds sterling. Married in England, probably as stated in the following record: Parish in Halifax, West Riding, Yorkshire, Jonathan FAYRBANKE and Grace SMITH, of Warley, a neighboring hamlet, May 20, 1617. REFN: 1V8C-51 shows burial as Dedham, Essex, England. He was buried at Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. Imagine having arrived for the burial in England, the same day he died in Massachusetts, in 1668. Even today, I defy you to get a dead body exported in one day!

Jonathan Fairebanke Male, #260, (after 18 May 1595 - 5 December 1668) The Fairbanks House

    Jonathan Fairebanke was born after 18 May 1595 in Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England.1 He was the son of John Fairebanke and Isabel Stancliffe.1 On 20 May 1617 Jonathan, married Grace Smith, daughter of Samuel Smith and Grace Gawkroger, in Sowerby, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England.2,3,4,5,1 On 4 August 1625 in Thornton-in-Craven, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England, Jonathan Fairebanke was mentioned in the will of John Fairebanke.1 Jonathan Fairebanke and Grace Smith emigrated in 1633 from Sowerby, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England, He settled in Dedham, Massachusetts where he built a home that is still standing. It is known as the "Fairbanks House."6,4,5 Jonathan Fairebanke immigrated in 1636 to New England.1 On 23 March 1636/37, Jonathan Fairbanks subscribed to the covenant of the Town of Dedham.1 He became a freeman on 23 March 1637/38 in Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.6 He joined the church on 14 August 1646 in Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.6 He left a will on 1 June 1668 in Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.3,7 He died on Wednesday, 5 December 1668 in Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.8,6,5 Jonathan's will was proved with the inventory valued at £300 on 26 January 1668/69 in Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.3,7


   Ancestry of Robert Roy
   Ancestry of Beverly Burnett

Children of Jonathan Fairebanke and Grace Smith

   John Fairbanks+3,6,5 (15 Feb 1618 - 13 Nov 1684)
   Capt. George Fairbanks+3,6,5 (28 Nov 1619 - 10 Jan 1682)
   Mary Fairbanks+9,3,6,5 (3 Feb 1621/22 - 10 Mar 1676)
   Jonas Fairbanks+3,6,5 (6 Mar 1624/25 - 10 Feb 1676)
   Susan Fairbanks+3,6,5 (23 Dec 1627 - 8 Jul 1659)
   Jonathan Fairbanks+3,6,5 (a 1629 - 28 Jan 1711/12)


   Joseph, Ruth Fairbanks and and James Swan Landberg. "New England Historical and Genealogical Register", The New England Historical and Genealogical Register volume 116 (July 2012).
   Torrey, Clarence Almon. "The English Ancestry of Jonathan Fairbanks of Dedham, Massachusetts", The American Genealogist volume XXXVII (1961).
   Lawson, Stephen M.. "Fairbanks Ancestory of Stephen Lawson. Online Printout dated 12 March 1998.
   Fairbanks, Hiram Francis. "Fairbanks Marriages in the Parish of Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England From 1538 to 1624", The New England Historical and Genealogical Register volume LXX (April 1906).
   MacKenzie, George Norbury. Colonial Families of the United States of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1966.
   Crane, Ellery Bicknell. Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts. New York: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1907.
   Trask, William B.. "Abstracts from the Earliest Wills on Record and on the Files in the County of Suffolk, Mass.", The New England Historical and Genealogical Register volume XIX (1865).
   Hanson, Robert Brand. The Vital Records of Dedham, Massachusetts. volume 2: Deaths. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1989).
   Harris, Luther Metcalf. "Metcalfe Family", The New England Historical and Genealogical Register volume VI (1852).

Builder of Fairbanks House in Dedham, MA

Jonathan Fairbank/Fairbanke/ Fairbanks (all are acceptable spellings of our name at his point in time) and his wife Grace came to America in 1633 and settled first in Boston,Ma. They stayed for 3 years and then moved to dedham, Ma and built a wood frame house in 1636 which is still standing to this day. It is the oldest wood frame house in the USA.

Pretty Cool!

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Jonathan Fairbanks, Sr.'s Timeline

January 2, 1594
Sowerby, West Riding, Yorkshire, England
Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts
February 15, 1618
Age 24
Sowerby, Parish of Halifax, Yorkshire, England
November 26, 1619
Age 25
Sowerby, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
April 18, 1622
Age 28
Sowerby, West Yorkshire, England
Age 28
Sowerby, Yorkshire, England
March 6, 1625
Age 31
Sowerby, Parish of Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England