Fairbrother, Samuel (c.1684–1758?), printer, bookseller, and ‘king's stationer’ in Ireland. Details of his early life and ancestry go unrecorded, though he probably served his apprenticeship in Dublin under Joseph Ray (qv), inheriting that family's printing house after the death of Joseph's widow, Elizabeth (qv), in 1713. He was admitted a member of the printers’ guild, the Guild of St Luke, in 1714 (paying quarterage until 1752), as well as to the freedom of the city of Dublin. After serving on the guild's council from May 1722, he served as warder (1725) and was elected master (September 1727), though he refused to serve and paid a fine. He was one of the three representatives of the guild on the city's common council for three years from December 1732.
Fairbrother printed the Votes of the house of commons from 1715, though he was not styled ‘printer to the Irish house of commons’ until 1723, resigning the patent in 1750. From 1715 he served as ‘executive deputy’ to the king's stationer, Nicholas King, succeeding him as king's stationer in Ireland (1723–49), after the printers' guild successfully petitioned the government, asserting King lacked the requisite membership to hold the patent. Fairbrother concentrated on the supply of stationery to the government, and his principal achievement lies in commissioning a superb series of bindings for the journals of the house of commons between 1715 and 1750 (which were lost in the PROI fire in 1922).
Fairbrother published a collection of the work of Jonathan Swift (qv) in February 1735 without the consent of the author. He had hoped to take advantage of the enthusiasm that met a recent announcement by George Faulkner (qv) of his intent to do the same. The defects of Fairbrother's edition were laid bare by Faulkner, who in an advertisement in the Dublin Journal in late February, asserted that it had ‘whole lines, sentences and paragraphs left out besides this edition doth not contain Gulliver's Travels nor the Drapier's Letters’ (Ward, 36). Ironically Fairbrother was appointed three years earlier to a guild committee to combat printing piracy, but this incident is somewhat indicative of his wider publishing output. Thomas Sheridan (qv) (1687–1738) had probably supplied Fairbrother with some new pieces of Swift's work, without the latter's knowledge, but was so unimpressed with the publication he denounced the printer in a letter to Swift as ‘Fowlbrother’ in April 1736, adding: ‘I am in haste to whip the rascal through Dublin’ (Hogan, 359).
Over time Fairbrother became relatively prosperous, probably due to the regular municipal and government work he produced (from at least 1716 – CARD, 20 July 1716), for he was listed among the creditors of the trustees responsible for repairing the Naas to Maryborough (Portlaoise) road in a petition to the house of commons in 1741 (Pollard, Dictionary, 196). In 1733 he worked out of the King's Arms, Skinner Row, close to the Tholsel, and auctioned off his stock of books, stationery, and printing materials in 1753. The Dublin Journal of 25 March 1758 recorded his death, aged 74, as having taken place four days earlier in Glasnevin, Co. Dublin, where he lived. However, the churchwarden's register of St Michael's church noted his burial as having taken place on 17 August 1757.