Fairhead - what does Fairhead surname mean?

This is an English medieval surname. It is unclear whether it was given as a baptismal name of endearment, or as a nickname for somebody with very fair hair, or whether in earlier times it was a satircal ethnic name for a Norseman or Viking, who were usually not popular with the locals! Similar surnames are Fairfax, the very rare or even extinct Fairhair, and the relatively popular Whitehead. Nicknames form one of the largest groups in the surname listings, and there are some researchers that insist with some merit that all surnames were in fact at their creation, forms of nickname. Certainly nicknames based upon personal characteristics were all the rage seven hundred years ago, although unlike this one, many seem to us today to be crude or even cruel. That this surname is literally descriptive would seem to be proven by the first known recording. This was of John Fayrhed in the London rolls of 1313, whilst curiously in the very same rolls we have one Richard Bryan known as ffairhair.

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