FAIRBANKS is an English locational name for the dweller at the fair-bank, from residence near the meadows of yellow flowers. The name may have given rise to the place Firbank, a township in the parish of Kirkby, Lonsdale, County Westmorland. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Robert FIREBANCKE of Wennington, was recorded in the Wills at Richmond in the year 1638, and William FAIRBANKS and Francis FREER, were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1803. Probably the most famous of the name was Douglas FAIRBANKS (originally Ullman) who died in 1939, was the American film actor, born in Denver Colorado. He first appeared in stage plays in 1901, but in 1915 went into films and made a speciality of swashbuckling hero parts, as in 'The Three Musketeers' (1921) 'Robin Hood' (1922) and 'The Thief of Baghdad' (1924) in which he did all his own stunts. He was a founder of United Pictures. In 1920 he married Mary Pickford (divorced 1935). His son Douglas FAIRBANKS, Junior, followed in his footsteps. The arms depicted here have been quartered with FAIR and BANKS. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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