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James Valentine Fairbairn (1897 - 1940)

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James Valentine Fairbairn
Born in Wadhurst, Sussex, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in St. John's Church, Toorak, Victoria, Australiamap
Died in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australiamap
Profile manager: Kerry Byrne private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 28 Jan 2018
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Categories: Ten Journeys.

Royal Flying Corps | CWGC Memorial Civilian Roll of Honour


14. A passion for the air: (I) | James Fairbairn (II)

James Valentine Fairbairn, [1] grazier, politician, flyer, was a man whose adult life had been shaped by war, the Great War. Fairbairn, born in Wadhurst, England, in 1897, grew up in Victoria’s Western District. His grandfather George Fairbairn, who died before he was born, was a pioneer pastoralist whose holdings in Victoria and Queensland totalled millions of acres. His father, Charles, the third of six brothers, had been joint general manager with his brother, George, of the Fairbairns’ Queensland properties.
At one time, as another brother, the legendary Cambridge rowing coach Steve Fairbairn, recalled, they were running 300 000 sheep ‘the finest big flock … in the world, but they were travelling all over Australia for food’. Charles Fairbairn married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Osborne of Yackendandah. He acquired Banongill near Skipton,\|/ and moved there with his family in the year of his second son James’s birth.

On his eleventh birthday Jim, or Jimmy as some of his friends called him, was despatched with 11 cakes to be a boarder at Geelong Church of England Grammar Preparatory School. In 1909 he moved to the Geelong Grammar senior school, where he had been preceded by his father, five uncles, and his older brother, Charles Osborne, known as Osborne.
The Fairbairns were a Grammar dynasty, captains of the cricket team, senior prefects and then, spurning the fledgling Melbourne University, undergraduates at Jesus College, Cambridge. Like most of his forebears, Jim’s six years at Geelong were remembered principally for his sporting achievements. He was a member of the running team, played in the tennis four, and rowed in the first eight. Scholastically, he distinguished himself in Classics, winning the prize for Greek in his final year . . . more . . .

James Valentine Fairbairn [2] [3]

PARENTS. Charles Fairbairn & Elizabeth (Osborne) Fairbairn

BIRTH. 28 Jul 1897, Wadhurst, Sussex, England

1902. TO AUSTRALIA. In the Oldenburg

Unassisted passenger lists (1852-1923) Record Series Number (VPRS): 947: [4]
Name | Age | Ship | Arrival Date
FAIRBAIRN, C, 43, | Oldenburg, | MAY 1902
FAIRBAIRN, ---- MRS, 35, | Oldenburg, | MAY 1902
FAIRBAIRN, ---- MISS, 10, | Oldenburg, | MAY 1902
FAIRBAIRN, ---- MASTER, 9, | Oldenburg, | MAY 1902
FAIRBAIRN, ---- MASTER, 4, | Oldenburg, | MAY 1902
FAIRBAIRN, ---- SERVANT WITH, 32, | Oldenburg, | MAY 1902

MARRIAGE. 21 Mar 1923, St. John's Church, Toorak, Victoria, Australia

MARRIAGE. 21 Mar 1923, Daisy Olive Forrester, daughter of Charles Forrester & Alice Maud May (Mooney) Forrester

MARRIAGE. VIC BDM Marriage Reg: #809/1923
Family name FAIRBAIRN | Given names Jas Valentine
Event Marriage
Spouse's family name FORRESTER | Spouse's given names Daisy Olive


(1) Geoffrey Forrester Fairbairn, b. 6 Oct 1924, d. 11 Sep 1980,

m (1). 21 Jul 1945, Rosamund Anne Clifford, daughter of Lewis Joseph Clifford & Amy Beaumont (Webster) Clifford, div. 1965.
m (2). 1965, Anne Body, neé Reid, granddaughter of Sir George Reid

(2) Angela Elizabeth Fairbairn, b. 10 Jul 1927, d. bef. 2015,

m. 23 Apr 1954, Peter Ramsden Cockburn Mercer, son of William Frank Cockburn Mercer & Jessie Stuart (Ramsden (Gayer) Mercer

Death and Memorial

DEATH. 13 Aug 1940, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

DEATH. ACT BDM Death Reg: #20000519/1940
Family name FAIRBAIRN | Given names JAMES VALENTINE
Date of death 13/08/1940

THREE MINISTERS. Sir Brudenell White And RAAF. Crew. From Our Special Representative. CANBERRA, Tuesday. — Australia suffered a grave loss at a most critical stage in her history this morning, when a Royal Australian Air Force bomber crashed a few miles from Canberra/ while carrying two service Ministers, the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Chief of the General Staff, to a Cabinet meeting, which was to have been held here to-day. All the occupants of the plane, ten in number, were killed. The victims were : —

Mr. G. A. Street Minister of the Army
Mr. J. V. Fairbairn, Minister of Air NAA: A1378, P8903 : crash at Canberra
Sir H. Gullett, Vice-Pres. of the Executive Council
General Sir Brudenell White, Chief of General Staff
Lieut.-Colonel F. H. Thornthwaite, Staff Officer to the Chief of the General Staff
Mr. R. Elford, secretary to the Air Minister
Flight-Lieutenant R. E. Hitchcock | Pilot-Officer R. F. Wiesener
Corporal J. F. Palmer, wireless operator | Aircraftman C. J. Crosdale, fitter . . .
Death. ACT BDM | Death Registrations | 13 Aug 1940:
Registration | Surname | Given names | Date of death |
20000511 Wiesener | Richard Frederick | 13/08/1940 RSL
20000512 Thornthwaite Francis | 13/08/1940 RSL
20000513 Crosdale CHARLES JOSEPH | 13/08/1940
20000514 White Cyril Brudenell Bingham | 13/08/1940
20000515 Elford RICHARD EDWIN | 13/08/1940
20000516 Street Geoffrey Austin | 13/08/1940
20000517 Palmer JOHN FREDERICK | 13/08/1940
20000518 Gullett HENRY SOMER | 13/08/1940
20000519 Fairbairn James Valentine | 13/08/1940
20000521 Hitchcock Robert Edward | 13/08/1940 RSL

Memorial Cairn.
Air Disaster Memorial and the Great War: [6]
On a hill near the NSW city of Queanbeyan, and not far from Canberra Airport, is a memorial dedicated to the memory of several distinguished Australians killed when an aeroplane carrying three Federal Ministers bound for a cabinet meeting – Sir Henry Gullet, James Fairburn and Geoffrey Street – crashed on approach to Canberra on 13 August 1940.
It was a time of new national crisis, and the disaster was a body-blow to the war effort. Australia could ill afford to lose such experienced and capable men. . . more . . . image

FUNERAL NOTICE. FAIRBAIRN. [7] — The Funeral of the late JAMES VALENTINE FAIRBAIRN, Minister of Air, will leave St. Paul's, Cathedral, Melbourne, THIS (Thursday) MORNING, August 15, after a service commencing at 11.45 a.m., for the Spring Vale Crematorium, where a service will be conducted by Rev. J. H. Allen.

CREMATION. Springvale Botanical Cemetery
Family name Fairbairn | Given names James Valentine
Cremated 15/08/1940 | Location The cremated remains have been collected

Date of grant: 12 Dec 1940; | Date of death: 13 Aug 1940;
Occupation: Grazier, Minister For Air; | Residence: Derrinallum
File#318/135: VPRS 7591/ P2 unit 1121, item 318/135; VPRS 28/ P3 unit 3430, item 318/135

Death of Spouse: 19 Apr 1972, Easthampstead, Berkshire, England


  1. Ten Journeys to Cameron’s Farm | 14. A passion for the air: James Fairbairn (I) . . with images . | 15. ‘A minister or a clerk?’ : Jim Fairbairn (II) . . with images .
  2. Fairbairn, James Valentine (Jim) (1897–1940):
  3. James Valentine Fairbairn: The Fairbairn Windows, by Michael Collins Persse, Light Blue - September 2016, Published on Oct 5, 2016
  4. FAIRBAIRN FAMILY in the Oldenburg: Unassisted passenger lists (1852-1923) Record Series Number (VPRS): 947:
  5. Death Report: The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954)
    Wed 14 Aug 1940, Page 9:
  6. Air Disaster Memorial and the Great War: and photo of Cairn
  7. Funeral Notice: The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954)
    Thu 15 Aug 1940, Page 1:
  • Marriage: VIC BDM Marriage Reg: #809/1923
  • Death: ACT BDM Death Reg: #20000519/1940

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with James by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree: It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with James:

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James is 32 degrees from Rosa Parks, 22 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 14 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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