Sir Andrew Fairbairn, M.P., J.P., M.A.

1828 – 1901

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Relationship with the Hatfield and St Albans Railway Company:

  • Joined the Board at the meeting of 26th October 1882.
  • Attended the last Board meeting, on Thursday 28th February 1884.

Life Highlights:

  • Born on 5th March 1828 in Anderston, Glasgow, the only son of Sir Peter Fairbairn and Margaret: moved to Leeds at only a few months.
  • Educated at Leeds, Geneva (1838-42), High School, Glasgow, Glasgow College and Christ’s College, Cambridge (1847, for a few months) then Peterhouse College, Cambridge, gaining B.A. (1850, 37th wrangler) and M.A. (1853), student at Inner Temple (1850).
  • Called to the Bar at Inner Temple (at Easter term 1852) – ceased to practice after 3 years.
  • Travelled in the United States (1855).
  • Went to Hanover (1856), studied German: returned to Leeds (1857) and entered father’s business.
  • Went to Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, France, Belgium and Silesia on business.
  • Went into partnership with father (1860).
  • Assumed sole charge of business on death of father (4th January 1861)
  • Married Clara Frederica Loraine on 6th November 1862, at Abingdon, Berkshire.
  • Business in partnership with two others (1863).
  • For 2 years a captain in the Yorkshire Hussar Yeoman Cavalry.
  • A major in the 7th West Riding Rifle Volunteers.
  • Mayor of Leeds from 1866 to 1868.
  • A National Exhibition of Works of Art in Leeds, opened by the Prince of Wales (1868).
  • A J.P. for the West Riding of Yorkshire (1880?).
  • A J.P. for Leeds (1867-8) (Chief magistrate) (also 1880?).
  • Knighted in 1868.
  • An unsuccessful candidate for Leeds at the 1868 General Election.
  • First Chairman of the Leeds School Board (1870-8).
  • Elected to the Leeds School Board (1873), becoming Chairman.
  • Took an active part in founding the Yorkshire College, Leeds (1874): Treasurer for many years, life governor, member of the council and Chairman of the building/engineering committee.
  • Member of the Royal Commission for the Paris Exhibition of 1878 (1877-8).
  • Elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal member for the Eastern West Riding of Yorkshire in 1880 (until 1885).
  • Business converted into private company, Fairbairn, Naylor, Macpherson & Co. (1882).
  • A Deputy Lieutenant for the West Riding of Yorkshire (1883) (and York?).
  • Vice-President of the organising committee of the first International Railway Congress, Brussels (1885) – created a Knight Commander of the Order of Leopold of Belgium.
  • Elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal member for Yorkshire, West Riding, East Otley Division in 1885 (until 1886).
  • Joined the breakaway Liberal Unionists when the Liberals split over Irish Home Rule, and was defeated by the Liberal candidate at the 1886 General Election.
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the International Railway Commission, who are preparing for the next meeting (1886).
  • President for the first section of the International Railway Congress, Paris (1889) – made a Commander of the Legion of Honour.
  • High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1892-3.
  • Chairman of the English section of the fifth session of the International Railway Congress in London (1895).
  • Company amalgamated with two others to form Fairbairn, Lawson, Combe-Barbour (1900).
  • Died on 31st May 1901 at his London home.
  • Buried on the afternoon of 6th June 1901 in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
  • Probate granted 3rd August 1901; effects £349,612.4.2.
  • (Wife died 2nd March 1922: probate 25th May 1922: effects £59,213.2.5.)
  • Among his Directorships were:
  1. Fairbairn, Kennedy and Naylor, Leeds (1861)(Chairman).
  2. The Great Northern Railway (1878) (Chairman of two comittees).
  3. Great Northern & Great Eastern Railways Joint Committee.
  4. Fairbairn, Naylor, Macpherson & Co. Leeds (1882) (Chairman).
  5. The Hatfield and St Albans Railway (1882).
  6. The National Agricultural Hall Company Limited, Kensington (1884) (Vice-President).
  7. Fairbairn, Lawson, Combe-Barbour (1900) (Chairman).
  • He was Treasurer of:
  1. The Marylebone United Liberal Association (1879).
  • He was patron of:
  1. The Co-operative Pure Family Beer Association (Limited) (1879).
  2. Brill’s Sea Water Baths, London (1881).
  3. Savoy Mansions Company (Limited) (1881).
  • He was president of:
  1. The British Club (until 1891).
  • He was a member of:
  1. The Co-operative Pure Family Beer Association (Limited) (1879).
  2. The Order of St John of Jerusalem in England (1892).

Homes included:

  • Woodsley House, Clarendon Road, Leeds.
  • Goldsborough Hall, near Knaresborough (1870s).
  • nn (one of 17 – 28) Lowndes Square, West End, London.
  • Built Askham Grange, Askham Richard, near York, as his country house, in 1886 (now a women’s open prison).
  • 39 Portland Place, Middlesex.
  • Villa Trois Fontaines, Biarritz.

He is in the 1851 census of Canada: record not seen.

He and a number of servants are at Woodsley House. Leeds, Yorkshire, in the 1861 census: no other Fairbairns there: Engineer & Machine Maker Formerly Barrister M.A. M.P. Col. Cambridge.

He is in the 1871 census of Canada (Grenville South, Ontario): record not seen. His wife is at Woodsley House, Clarendon Road, Leeds.

He is at Askham Hall, Askham Richard, Yorkshire, in the 1881 census: no other Fairbairns there; cousin to the Head, Thomas S. Kennedy: M.P., J.P., M.A., Machine maker employing 1000 hands – Captain in Army.


Information gathered from:

  • The Hatfield & St Albans Railway Company Minute Book.
  • Census returns.
  • Wills Index.
  • The Times Digital Archive.


GNU Documentation Licence:

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