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Thomas Fairchild

Birthdate: (62)
Death: October 10, 1729 (62)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Fairchild and Ann Butt
Brother of John Fairchild
Half brother of Ann Shepherd; John [Butt] Bacon; Stephen Bacon and Ann Woodley

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Thomas Fairchild

Thomas Fairchild

Variations of the name – Fairchild, Fairechild, Fairchilde

Origin of the name – Anglo Saxon origin - derives from the pre 7th century Olde English phrase 'faere-cild' and means a beautiful child; faeger means fair or beautiful and cild means child.

Wikipedia - first recorded in Oxfordshire where the family held a seat from the Dark Ages before the Norman Conquest with the arrival of William the Conqueror at Hastings in 1066. According to Name Origin Research 1980 - 2011 Known recordings of the name show that the name was in use at least one thousand years ago. The very first of all surname recordings is believed to be that of Lefui Faeger Cild in the register of the abbey of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk in about 1050. Another recording is that of Robert Fairchild, in the tax rolls known as 'The fees,' for the county of Surrey in the year 1251.

Birth date – 1667

Birth Place – Albourne, Wiltshire.

Baptism has a baptism of Thomas Fairchild on 9 Jun 1667 at Aldbourne, Wiltshire, England - Father John, mother Ann

Source Citation: Place: Aldbourne, Wiltshire, England; Date Range: 1642 - 1881; Film Number: 1279364.

Date of Death – 10 Oct 1729

Place of Death – Hackney. London

Burial Place

“Hackney Road Recreation Ground was the site of a former burial ground in the C18th, Shoreditch Burying Ground, superseded in the C19th by a range of almshouses. The site still contains one memorial stone marking the grave of Thomas Fairchild (d.1729), a leading nurseryman and botanist. Fairchild's Nursery in Shoreditch existed from 1691 to 1740 and specialised in flowering plants. His tomb here was restored by The Gardeners Company in 1846, 1891 and again in 1949. The site became a recreation ground in the C20th, providing tennis courts and a planted area with paths, seating and shrubs in timber planters, and a number of mature plane trees.” [1]

“Hackney Road must surely rank among the limpest, tat-laden and unpleasant roads in London, with its run-down shops and warehouses, lurching fences and random pockets of grim. Towards the western end, however, lay the remains of a gentleman who sought to beautify the city, and whose playful experiments with plants led to many horticultural advances. … on Hackney Road, a rare patch of green marks Fairchild's final resting place. It's a scrappy park; the master of horticulture would be dismayed. Fairchild's weathered tombstone is the only survivor from a former burial ground (an extension of nearby St Leonard's) now home to an ill-maintained tennis court and a handful of those London plane trees I mentioned earlier. It's easy to find the grave - a prominent sign for a strip joint illuminates the wall behind.

As a postscript to this story, Fairchild's name was recently revived as part of a new eco-development at the southern end of the park. The UK's largest all-wooden (apart from the bits that clearly aren't wooden) building carries the name Fairmule house, to commemorate Fairchild and his first plant 'mule'. The architects have incorporated floral elements into the window panes as a further reference to the site's history.” [2]


There is a school in Hackney which is named after Thomas Fairchilkd – no information on the History of the school is available on their webopages –

On 30 July 2009 a fire ripped through Thomas Fairchild school. Over 100 fire fighters using 20 fire engines fought to bring the fire under control. Sadly, however, the school could not be saved. The school is presently being rebuilt. A brand new. state of the art building for the school is currently being worked on and pupils are expected to move in from September 2012.


Father John Fairchild of Aldbourne d 1668

Mother Ann Butt (1636-1679) Her 2nd marriage - first marriage Thomas Shepherd

Marriage – Did not marry

Possibility (Andrea Wulf in ‘The Brother Gardeners’ says on page 6 that he was unmarried 1716) Calendar of marriage licenses issued by the Faculty Office 1632-1714 page 238 (on 18 June 1708 Fairchild, Thomas - Dickman, Margtt

Date –

Children -

Occupation – English gardener/nurseryman/florist.

The first English nurseryman to experiment with hybridization of plants. He placed the pollen of Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) on the style of carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) in 1716. The next year, the new hybrid flower (a type of carnation) came into bloom looking like neither of its parents alone, proving the sexual reproduction of plants. The flower became known as "Fairchild's Mule."

Fairchild worried about backlash about taking God's power over creation into his own hands. Because he felt bad about the hybridization he established an endowment at St. Leonard's Church, Shoreditch, in the Hackney section of London for the preaching of an annual sermon on either "The wonderful works of God in Creation" or "On the certainty of the resurrection of the dead, proved by certain changes of the animal and vegetable parts of creation". Known in Shoreditch as "The Vegetable Sermon", Fairchild's bequest was observed until the 1990s.

Career – Employed in 1690 at Hoxton, London, then a centre of the nursery business, he purchased a nursery and remained there for the rest of his life. Elected freeman of the Gardeners' Company in 1704, Fairchild developed an interest in growing the new introductions, particularly the material collected by Mark Catesby in America and sent to Philip Miller. A practical gardener, interested in scientific research, Fairchild experimented in hybridization, producing the first artificial hybrid between Dianthus caryophyllus (carnation) and D. barbatus (Sweet William). The flowers resembled a Sweet William, but were larger and red, but the seeds proved infertile and the plant became known as ‘Fairchild's Mule’. He corresponded with Linnaeus (see note 1) and read papers on his experiments to the Royal Society.

In 1724 he had a paper read before the Royal Society and afterwards printed (Philosophical Transactions, xxxiii. 127) on ‘Some new Experiments relating to the different and sometimes contrary Motion of the Sap in Plants and Trees’.

In 1725 joined the London Society of Gardeners - some sources suggest that he helped found the Society with Philip Miller and Robert Furber (c. 1674 – 1756)

He had taken up the freedom of the Clothworkers’ Company in 1704, and in his will he is described as citezen (sic) and clothworker.

Publications - His publication "The City Gardener" (1722) is a detailed guide to gardening in the city of London.

"Thomas Fairchild (1667-1729) emerges in this charming book as a gentle nurseryman whose benign labors helped to make gardening into a national obsession in Britain and to spread its charms around the world. Fairchild's great contribution was to make the hybridization of plants a normal practice of nurserymen at a time when he, along with a few other plant men, was turning the enjoyment of plants from the exclusive province of wealthy landowners into practical gardening accessible to the average Londoner." ANTHONY DAY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES at

Family History and Biographical notes

In Fairchild's will he bequeathed 30l. to his 'daughter-in-law, Mary Price, the wife of James Price,' but no direct allusion to his wife or child has come to light. He left the bulk of his property to his nephew, John Bacon of Hoxton, who was a member of the Society of Gardeners, and died on 20 February 1737, aged 25.

England & Wales Christening Records, 1530-1906 Name: John Bacon Birth Date: abt 1711 Christening Date: 5 Sep 1711 Christening Place: Aldbourne, Wiltshire, England Father's Name: Steven Bacon Mother's Name: Martha Source Citation: Place: Aldbourne, Wiltshire, England; Date Range: 1642 - 1881; Film Number: 1279364. Source Information: England & Wales Christening Records, 1530-1906 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

Original data: Genealogical Society of Utah. British Isles Vital Records Index, 2nd Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, copyright 2002. Used by permission.

IGI source film 1279364 -1707 marriage at Aldbourne, Wiltshire –Steven Bacon and Martha Archer This couple also baptized the following children – Steven 1708 Martha 27 Sep 1713

Also found – John Bacon and Mary baptized Stephen Bacon at Albourne on 27 March 1735 Source film no 1279364 The identity of his wife and marriage has not been established.

Notes, References, Sources/Links, Family Trees etc.

[1] London Gardens Online

[2] From the Blog of Matt Brown posted at Thomas Fairchild Biography - London, City, Gardeners, Gardener, Miller, and Philip

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Thomas Fairchild's Timeline

June 9, 1667
Wiltshire, England
October 10, 1729
Age 62