John James – that’s not an unusual name. But there’s more to this story.
John James arrived in Tasmania on the “Clyde” on 18th December 1830, as a convict. Over the next fourteen years he served out his sentence and received a Pardon in early 1844. He married Caroline Wooller soon after. When their first child arrived, he was named William FAIRCHILD James. He had a daughter than another son, who was named Charles FAIRCHILD James. Through at least three to four more generations, the FAIRCHILD name has been carried on as a second name for both male and female offspring!
When I discovered this, my interest was piqued. Where had this FAIRCHILD name come from? I attempted to find the name in John James’ background but could find no birth records in London for a John James at the appropriate time for a John James, let alone one with the name Fairchild involved. After much searching using various sites, I had hit a “brick wall”.
I set it aside for quite a while then in a ”light bulb” moment – what if my John James had been born FAIRCHILD. More searching ensued. Success – a child was born on 17th October 1813 and surrendered to the orphanage at St Pancras Church, London, to Isabella FAIRCHILD and James Tobin. The father was already dead and, one must presume, the mother died in childbirth. So, John James Fairchild Tobin was a foundling.
By the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a butcher and, as was quite often the custom for foundlings, his name was simplified to John James. I have yet to document this officially, but the thread of facts is reasonably strong, and is strengthened by the use of the name FAIRCHILD, as homage to his mother, in later years. Am I clutching at straws? I hope not!