Hope you are still out there.
My interest in what I think looks like your family has suddenly risen a tad.
My initial data came mostly from a Joe FAIRBAIRN, I think in Washington USA, back in 2006, but his email now bounces.
I was idly searching the web and came across a Lawrence D FAIRBAIRN who had donated some stuff to the University of North Dakota and decided to see who he was.
Turned out to be the son of Angus U and Eva (NELSON) FAIRBAIRN, and therefore grandson of David and Charity (WALKER) FAIRBAIRN.
Assorted references online report that Angus (by now of Eatonville) was cousin to John A FAIRBAIRN of Hoquiam, Washington.
This is the second reference to relationships across these families, as Walter, this John's nephew married his "cousin" Clarissa (they appear on the chart link above).
However, I dug back into Joe's correspondence and noticed that an obit he sent me from his family refers to John A FAIRBAIRN of Hoquiam as cousin to Joe's grandfather Albert.
This Albert is the son of Henry and Ann.
Henry sounds like he is the brother of your Richard A.
I note that census data shows your Richard A as born in Middlesex, not Sunderland, but the birth was registered in Sunderland.
Certainly their father Robert was married to an Emma, and came from Sunderland, and census data shows him as a wood type cutter.
I'd love to know how all these families connect, as the FAIRBAIRN surname dna project has shown a link between a descendant of the above David's uncle, William FAIRBAIRN (who married Jean WANLESS) and one of my FAIRBAIRNs who track back to an Archibald on the Scottish Borders who married c 1784.
A third match on the dna project
http://worldfamilies.net/surnames/fairbairn/ enabled me to get back to a Robert from Melrose in the mid 1700s.
Perhaps you'd like to join the project and see what ensues?
There are brilliant discounts on tests until the end of September if you join via the project.
Regardless, I'd love to know if you've progresses any in your research on this family since your posting
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