I was interested to read your account and wonder what your sources are.
Fairbairn is a fairly unusual name, yet common to that area. I have done a lot of research into the family around Eyemouth to Cockburnspath (known to locals as Co'path.In that era they also had large families with around 8 to 10 children each.
The Great Disaster was on October 14, 1881.Fishing boats from Coldingham, Burnmouth, Dunbar and Eyemouth set sail despite the warnings.Most of the boats were owned by private individuals, although many were related.The majority of boats were from Eyemouth.I was not aware of a Captain of the Fleet, I suppose some of the elders might have had that title. Not everyone perished, there were some lucky escapes.3 Yawls from Coldingham made Eyemouth.My mat. gggrandfather Thomas Fairbairn, was the skipper of 'The Pilgrim' which had a miraculous escape.It was carried onto the rocks by a giant wave and the crew were saved by the villagers throwing them lines.Three of his brothers, Alexander, David and John were not so lucky and perished when the Radiant sank in the harbour.
In all, 189 souls were lost, 129 were Eyemouth folk.This left 263 children without a father.Each was paid 2s 6d a year until they were 14 from the disaster fund.(about 10 cents).
9 of the dead were Fairbairns.However there was no James among them.I wonder if he perished in an earlier disaster of which there were a few.
I have details of censuses, Newspaper reports from 1881 and the centenary in 1981.There is also a useful book on the subject.
I would be very interested to try and link our branches of the family.The earliest fairbairn I can find from the Old Parish Records is a Thomas Fairbairne, b1637 in Innerwick.His son George Fairbairn (the 'e' was dropped) married in Cockburnspath in 1663.
There are still Fairbairns living in Cockburnspath and I met and had a chat with a few about 6 years ago.