The Great Migration Begins: Richard Fairbanks

Source: Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volume 1, A-F (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).

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ORIGIN: Unknown



OCCUPATION: Innkeeper (“[blank] FAIRBANKS” licensed to sell wine & strong water in Boston, 12 March 1637/8, 4 November 1646 [MBCR 1:221, 2:173]).  Postmaster (“For preventing the miscarriage of letters; & it is ordered, that notice be given that Rich[a]rd FAIRBANKS his house in Boston is the place appointed for all letters which are brought from beyond the sea, or are to be sent thither, are to be brought unto; & he is to take care that they be delivered or sent according to their directions; & he is allowed for every such letter a 1d., & must answer all miscarriages through his own neglect in this kind; provided that no man shall be compelled to bring his letters thither, except he please” [MBCR 1:281]).

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admitted to Boston church October 1633 [BChR 16].

FREEMAN: 14 May 1634 [MBCR 1:369].

EDUCATION: Sufficient to act as colony postmaster.  Signed his name to various documents [SLR 2:105-06; WP 3:513].

OFFICES: Cowkeeper, 13 April 1635 [BTR 1:5]; petit jury, 19 February 1635/6 [BTR 1:8]; hogreeve, 15 November 1636 [BTR 1:13]; foldkeeper, 13 May 1637, 25 March 1639 [BTR 1:18, 40]; fenceviewer, 25 March 1639, 30 March 1640 [BTR 1:39, 52]; surveyor of highways, 29 May 1643 [BTR 1:73].

Admitted to Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, 1654 [HAHAC 1:177].

ESTATE: “We find that Richard FAIRBANKE hath sold unto two strangers the two houses in Sudbury End that were William BALSTONE’s, contrary to a former order, and therefore the sale to be void, and the said Richard FAIRBANCKE to forfeit for his breaking thereof xls.,” 6 June 1636 [BTR 1:10].

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“It is agreed that Richard FAIRBANCKE shall have leave for this summer time to mow the marsh that is against his acre of planting ground in the New Field, as he hath formerly mown it,” 2 June 1637, 8 January 1637/8, 30 December 1639, 30 November 1640 [BTR 1:18, 22, 45, 57].

“Leave is granted to Richard FAIRBANK to sell his shop to _____ SAUNDERS, a bookbinder,” 7 August 1637 [BTR 1:19].

Granted a Great Allotment of 23 acres at Muddy River, 8 January 1637/8 [BTR 1:25]; this lot sold by Robert SCOTT to Thomas SAVAGE, 21 January 1638/9 [BTR 1:37].

In the Boston Book of Possessions Richard FAIRBANKS held four parcels of land; a house and garden; a garden; four acres in New Field; and five acres in Fort Field [BBOP 23-24].

On 2 April 1652 Robert TURNER of Boston, vintner, and “Richard FAIREBANCKS in Boston” exchanged land, TURNER receiving “one dwelling house, garden & yard” and FAIRBANKS receiving “one dwelling house, garden & yard” and “6 acres or thereabouts of enclosed ground … in the Fort Field” [SLR 1:193].

On 15 April 1667 James PENN, ruling elder, James JOHNSON & Richard TRUESDALL, deacons of the Church of Christ in Boston, sold to Theodore ATKINSON, senior, of Boston “all that their cottage or tenement with the orchard, gardens, outhousing, closes or pasture lands thereto adjoining or belonging as it hath been & is now fenced in, situate, lying & being in Boston near to the Fort Hill containing in quantity seven acres and seven rods or thereabouts as they heretofore purchased it from the late Richard FAIREBANCKS several years since, having been also for & from that time in the possession of the said Theodore ATKINSON, senior” [SLR 5:190-92].

BIRTH: By about 1608 based on estimated date of marriage.

DEATH: After 29 January 1654/5 [SLR 2:105-06] and before 15 April 1667 [SLR 5:190-92], and probably closer to the former date.

MARRIAGE: By 1633 Elizabeth _____; in October 1633 “Elizabeth FAIREBANCKE the wife of our brother Richard FAIREBANCKE” was admitted to Boston church [BChR 16]; not seen after the birth of her second child in 1639.


i     CONSTANCE, bp. Boston 10 January 1635/6 [BChR 280]; “Samuel MATTOCKE was married to Constance FAIREBANKS daughter of Richard FAIREBANKS” at Boston 30 March 1653 [BVR 43; see also SLR 1:311-12].

ii    ZACHEUS, bp. Boston 8 December 1639 [BChR 284]; d. Boston 10 November 1653 [BVR 43].

ASSOCIATIONS: On 29 May 1643 John WINTHROP, Governor, Valentine HILL, merchant, “Richard FAYREBANKES,” ROBERT TURNER and James

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DAVIS were authorized to dig “a creek for the harbor of boats in the marsh near William HUDSON, senior, his house” [BTR 1:73].  Witnessed deed of Robert TURNER, 30 June 1651 [SLR 1:190]; witnessed will of Robert TURNER, 14 August 1651 [SPR 1:64].  On 2 April 1652 these two men exchanged land [SLR 1:193].

Although the suggestion has been made that Richard FAIRBANKS was the brother of Jonathan FAIRBANKS of Dedham, or in some other way related to him, there is no evidence in favor of this other than the identity of surnames.  (See TAG 37:65-72 for material on the English origin and ancestry of Jonathan FAIRBANKS, which includes no mention of Richard.)

COMMENTS: Savage suggests that Richard FAIRBANKS arrived on the Griffin in 1633; this is presumably based only on the time of his admission to Boston church, along with others who did come on that vessel.

Some secondary sources suggest that Lydia (_____) (BATES) FLETCHER, wife successively of EDWARD BATES of Boston and William FLETCHER of Concord, may have been the daughter of Richard FAIRBANKS [Snow-Estes 1:296; Farwell Gen 1:45].  The latter source, for instance, says “there is evidence of some association between the two families” (Richard FAIRBANKS and Henry FARWELL), but does not produce the evidence.  Nothing in the career of Richard FAIRBANKS suggests that he had a daughter Lydia.

“Richard FAIRBANKE” was in the 20 November 1637 list of Boston men to be disarmed for supporting the petition in favor of WHEELWRIGHT [MBCR 1:211].  About 22 November 1637 he joined a large list of Boston men in repudiating his support for WHEELWRIGHT [WP 3:513].

Because it was both an inn and the post office, the residence of Richard FAIRBANKS became a place at which persons from all over Massachusetts Bay, and other parts of New England as well, met to transact business.   On 28 March 1642 “Richard FAYERBANKES … promised to give his endeavor in dealing with such as have milk to sell, and to direct them where they may be provided for” [BTR 1:68].  (See also MBCR 2:86, 102, 110, 184, 3:14, 131, for other examples of this sort of activity.  This inn was apparently the same one known later as the Blue Anchor [BBOP 102].)

On 12 August 1645, a “bill of sixty & nine pounds eighteen shillings & five pence, being presented to this Court by Rich: FAIRBANKS, of many particulars as due to him from the country, is accepted by the Court for a debt of sixty-three pounds nine shillings, &c., due to the country from Mr. Edward TING, so far as it appears to be just by the examination of the surveyor general & Wm. PARKS” [MBCR 3:42].

“It is ordered, that whatsoever appears due to the widow WILSON from the country, with respect to her late husband’s wages, &c., appearing under the hands of the Treasurer, she shall be forthwith paid & satisfied by

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Rich: FAIRBANKS, as far as that comes to, which he oweth the country for the custom of wines, & the rest by the Treasurer, so as she depart the prison house & quietly resign it to the keeper,” 7 October 1646 [MBCR 2:161].

With ATHERTON HOUGH and THOMAS LEVERETT, “Richard FAIREBANCK” represented Alice DINELY, the widow of William DINELY, when she made her marriage contract with Richard CRITCHLEY, 15 August 1654; “Richard FAIREBANCK did acknowledge this to be his own handwriting, viz, his name here underwritten before me,” apparently on 29 January 1654/5 [SLR 2:105-06].

In an inventory of church plate belonging to the First Church of Boston, prepared in 1834, there is a small cup which may have belonged to Richard and Elizabeth FAIRBANKS [BChR 487].

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