David B. Fairbairn

by Alex

Son of Founder Member James Fairbairn Snr. and one of “the Twenty-three Gentlemen” present at the first ‘Let it Blaw’ in 1881, David was so highly thought of by Club Members that, although half the age of almost everyone else, by the fifth Supper he wasn’t only President, but also proposed the ‘Immortal Memory’ of Burns ……


born 19th November 1852 in Balerno
Died 6th February 1906 in Edinburgh aged 53 years

Not a ‘Founder Member’ but was in attendance at the Club’s first Supper in 1881

1885,  1886,  1887,  1889,  1890,  1892,  1895,  1899,  1900,  1902,  1903,  1904
1894,  1897,  1898

Reply to the Toast  “Architecture”  1883
Proposer of the Toast  “Agricultural Interests of the District”  1884,  1893,  1895
Proposer of the Toast  “The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns”  1885,  1890,  1900
Proposer of the Toast  “Our Hosts” or “The Landlord – Landlady”  1885
Proposer of the Toast  “Let it Blaw – the Balerno Burns Club”  1886,  1887,  1890,  1895
Proposer of the Toast  “New Members”  1888
Proposer of the Toast  “Other Scots Poets”  1888
Proposer of the Toast  “Educational Interests”  1892
Proposer of the Toast  “The Navy & The Army” or “Imperial Forces”  1894,  1899,  1902
Reply to the Toast  “Commercial Interests of the District”   1896,  1897 
Proposer of the Toast  “Kindred Clubs”  1902 

Served on the Club Committee
1883,  1884,  1888,  1891,  1893,  1894,  1896,  1897,  1898,  1901,  1905

David B. Fairbairn was the second of three sons of the Club’s Founding Member James Fairbairn Snr. While Club records don’t record the attendees at the Club’s first Supper in 1881, it’s seems certain that David was of the “Twenty-three Gentlemen” that sat down to that first dinner. From the outset he was actively involved in annual suppers proposing toasts, giving replies and singing as part of the harmony.

He was obviously highly thought of by his fellow Club Members as, being half the age of the Founder Members and many early supporters of the Club, by the fifth Supper in 1885 he wasn’t only President, but he also proposed the Immortal Memory of Burns.

Together with George Y. Robertson it might be argued that David was the engine that drove the Club from year to year in those early days.

When George Robertson, in his role of Club Bard, presented a collection of rhymes at the 1891 annual Supper and mentioned many prominent members of the Club, David B. Fairbairn was included. The presentation was printed by Club Member A. G. Moir and a copy included in the Club Minute Book. The layout has been adapted for our website and can be viewed at Ragged Rhymes .

He was a Master Builder and resided at Dunraven, Balerno with his wife and family. His son James Garnet Fairbairn was brought up in the faith and, at the age of 8, won a prize at the first Burns Competition held at Balerno School in 1893 only to be lost in the first World War.

David was also involved with the founding of Balerno Bowling Club and was their first Vice President in 1886; the President was Lord Rosebery who owned the land on which the Club was built.

At a Committee Meeting held on 19th January 1906, the following was recorded : “On account of the continued serious illness of Mr David B. Fairbairn, it has been unanimously resolved that there will be no celebration this year”

Unfortunately David’s life was cut short by illness with him dying of a brain tumour in an Edinburgh nursing home on 6th February 1906 at the age of 53 years.

The following record appears in the Minute Book dated 7th February 1906 : “A few of the Members of the Club met this evening when the sad news of the death of David B. Fairbairn  had been received; which event had occurred on 6th February 1906.  A proposal that the Club join in subscribing for a wreath to be placed on his grave was unanimously agreed to.  Messrs George Shiels and George Calder  kindly agreed to interview the Members and procure subscriptions which were heartily given. The amount collected enabled the Committee to procure a wreath such as to betokened the regard which the Club entertained for the deceased.