(John: ca. 1757 VA - 1835 IL; William: ca. 1765 VA -1833 IL)
In the Fairbairn Surname Project, William Farris was the ancestor of George Farris (F57) and R.O. Farris (F-59);
John Farris was the ancestor of Curt Farris who has just joined the Fairbairn project
Y chromosome DNA analyses of some of their direct male line descendants indicates that John and William were closely related and probably brothers. Over a period of nearly 35 years beginning about 1783 they migrated west together from Hanover County, Virginia through several locations in Virginia and Kentucky and both ultimately ended up in Franklin County, Illinois by 1818.
John filed a Revolutionary War pension claim in 1834 that documents that he was born about 1757 and that he enlisted in the Revolutionary War in 1779 while a resident of Hanover County, Virginia.
Their father probably was a John Farris, Sr. listed in the 1782 Hanover County tax list, but that cannot be proven.
If he was, then he was our most distant identified Farris line ancestor. However, it is likely that there were one or more prior generations of this line in the American colonies, but no records exist to identify them.
The name Farris, like many surnames, came into use in different places for different reasons. The Farris surname project at FTDNA (which includes many different variations of spelling of the name) has identified about a dozen distinct Farris lines with significantly different DNA and different origins.
Our Y-DNA results show us more closely related to some people with different surnames including Fairbairn, Elliott, and Erwin than to the other common Farris/Ferris lines.
From the DNA and our apparent relationship to the above families we assume that our Farris line traces back to the Borders region of Scotland which included the shires of Peebles, Roxburgh, Berwick and Selkirk.
For nearly 300 years up until the early 1600s the area on both sides of the England/Scotland border was a very lawless and dangerous place, with raids being conducted across the border in both directions as well as deadly feuds among the clans. The term “Border Reivers” was applied to some of these notorious bands of raiders.
While Farris and Fairbairn were not clan names associated with the Border Reivers, Elliott and Irwin/Irvine were.
Some of the Fairbairns with whom we are closely related on our direct male line can trace their ancestry in Roxburgh back into the 1600s.
While surnames had come into use by that time, they were changed as circumstances dictated, such as joining a clan and taking the clan name as the family name. The violence also resulted in orphans who were raised by other families and may or may not have taken the new family name.
In 1608 when James I became King of England he was already King of Scotland and thus formed the United Kingdom - and he set about pacifying the Borders region. One part of this pacification consisted of breaking up and essentially removing some of the most notorious of the clans, including the Elliotts and Irvines, among others. This included forcibly relocating some of them to northern Ireland. Some who remained in the area became members of other border clans/families and adopted the clan surnames.
So there are good reasons why people with different surnames today can trace their ancestry back to one single common male ancestor in the Borders area of Scotland in the 1500s or 1600s. There is no way to know what surname that common ancestor used. It may have been Farris or Fairbairn or Elliott or Irwin or something else. We do know that, at some point in the past 400 years, the direct male line ancestors of John and William Farris began using the Farris surname.
George J. Farris
Oak Ridge, TN
August, 2015