Invented by the Elizabethan pastoral poet Sir Philip Sidney (1554–86), in whose verse it is stressed on the second syllable. There is no clue to the sources that influenced Sidney in this coinage. It was later taken up by Samuel Richardson for the name of the heroine of his novel Pamela (1740). In Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews (1742), which started out as a parody of Pamela, Fielding comments that the name is ‘very strange’.
English: nickname meaning ‘handsome’, ‘beautiful’, ‘fair’, Middle English fair, fayr, Old English fæger. The word was also occasionally used as a personal name in Middle English, applied to both men and women.