In the hope that someone else can clarify what we're finding here, I'm posting this as well as mailing you privately.
The Elizabeth LAIDLAW, relict of James FAIRBAIRN might fit with this lot in 1841 and 1851. 1841 Old Belses, Ancrum: LADLAW(sic): John 25 ag lab b ROX; Isobella 30 b outside cty; George 4; Walter 2, both b ROX; FAIRBAIRN: John 20, James 15, both ag lab b outside cty; Robert 10, William 8 both b ROX Where the igi shows the mother of an 1837 George LAIDLAW as Isabella CAMPBELL (couldn't spot Walter). Even with ages being up to 5 yrs out, it seems unlikely that Isobella is the mother of John, and James although technically possible I suppose. 1851 at Roxburgh Mains: LAIDLAW: John 40 farm steward b Roxburgh; wife Isabel 45 b Eccles; Stepsons (FAIRBAIRN): Robert 24 blacksmith, William 23 farm servant b Sprouston, ROX; Servant Margaret BARCLAY 16 b Sligo, IRL Haven't got 1861 or 1871 but by 1881 this looks like John & Isabella: LAIDLAW: John 66 ag lab b Roxburgh ROX; wife Isabella 76 b Eccles, BEW (in Croft Row, Bowmont St, Kelso) and 1891 at Shielstock Braes, Morebattle FAIRBAIRN: William 63 ploughman b Sprouston, ROX; wife Hannah 45 b Whitsome, BEW; Children: James 14 farm serv b Kelso; Elizabeth 8 scholar b Gordon BEW; William Robert 5 b Gordon; Mary Brown 3 b Gordon; George 1 b Greenlaw, BEW; (next page) Stepfather John LAIDLAW, widower, 80 retired ploughman, b Roxburgh, ROX I've William F's parents as James FAIRBAIRN and Isabella CAMPBELL, same as your James, and according to the igi they did have a brother Robert.
Can anyone shed any light on this?I'm picking that John LAIDLAW is actually Elizabeth's brother, so stretching our modern interpretation of "stepfather" "stepson" a tad, and that there are two Isabella CAMPBELL's involved, but confess to being totally confused at the moment.