John Fairfax (24 October 1804 – 16 June 1877), English-born journalist, is notable for the incorporation of the major newspapers of modern day Australia.
Fairfax was born in Barford, Warwickshire, the second son of William Fairfax and his wife, Elizabeth née Jesson. The Fairfax family for many years were lords of the manor of Barford, but estates had been lost and William Fairfax at the time of John's birth was in the building and furnishing trade. In 1817 John Fairfax was apprenticed to William Perry, a bookseller and printer in Warwick, and in 1825 went to London where he worked as a compositor in a general printing office and on the Morning Chronicle. A year or two later he established himself at Leamington Hastings as a printer, bookseller and stationer. There, on 31 July 1827, he married Sarah Reading, daughter of James and Sarah Reading. He became the printer of the Leamington Spa Courier, and in 1835 he purchased an interest in another paper The Leamington Chronicle and Warwickshire Reporter. He had a book binding business in Leamington. At this time Leamington was one of the leading spa towns in the UK.
In 1836 Fairfax published a letter criticizing the conduct of a local solicitor, who brought an action against him. Though judgment was given for the defendant, the solicitor appealed. Judgment was again given for Fairfax but the costs of the actions were so heavy that he had to apply to the Insolvency Court. There was sympathy for him, his friends offered assistance but he decided to make a fresh start in a new land, and in May 1838 sailed for the colony of New South Wales in the Lady Fitzherbert with his wife and three children, his mother and a brother-in-law. After a voyage of about 130 days, they reached Sydney on 26 September 1838; Fairfax had just £5 in his pocket.