Monday, May 14, 2012

Lord Fairfax

Lord Fairfax marker Q-4d in Winchester, VAMarker No. Q-4-d
City of Winchester
Frederick County, Virginia

Marker Text: Thomas Fairfax (1693-1781), sixth Baron Fairfax of Cameron, was the proprietor of the Northern Neck Proprietary, a vast landholding that lay between the Rappanannock and Potomac Rivers, and extended to the Blue Ridge. Born in England, he came to Virginia about 1735 and moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 1747. He eventually lived in Greenway Court in present day Clarke County, while managing his landholdings. In 1749, he was named a justice of the peace for Frederick County, and also served as one of the justices of the county court of chancery that met in Winchester, and as a county lieutenant for a number of years. He is buried at Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester.

Location: On U.S. Route 522 (North Frederick Pike), near Autumn View Lane, 0.3 miles east of Route 37. Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 2003.

Lord Fairfax marker Q-4d on U.S. Route 522 looking north toward exit with Route 37.  Lord Fairfax, whose home was at Greenway Court in the Shenandoah Valley, was the only peer of the realm to take up permanent residence in North America. "The Proprietor," as Fairfax was often known was a generous and beloved patron. He not only provided Thomas Marshall (father of John Marshall) and George Washington with a substantial income, but also offered a model of wisdom and modesty that was exceptionally rare in frontier America. Equally important, by representing his lordship in Fauquier county, Thomas Marshall acquired an immediate social standing that otherwise might have eluded him. As witnessed today throughout Northern Virginia, Lord Fairfax's name is associated with many places, institutions, and structures. I have posted other markers related to him, Greenway Court, Fairfax Line, Old Chapel and White Post.

Lord Fairfax's Tomb at Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester, VA

Lord Fairfax’s Tomb at the Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester, VA.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  Lord Fairfax's vast holdings, from which he was entitled to collect quitrents, numbered over 5.2 million acres and traced to a royal grant by Charles II in 1649. Known as the northern neck of Virginia, the Fairfax estate included all the land bounded by Chesapeake Bay on the east, the Potomac River on the north, the Rappahannock on the south, and a direct line joining the head springs of the Potomac and the Rappahannock on the west called the Fairfax Line. The area amounted to roughly one quarter of Virginia and included eighteen counties in present-day Virginia and seven in West Virginia.

Tablet on top of Lord Fairfax's Tomb, click to enlarge  Lord Fairfax died in December 1781, at the age of eighty-eight.  Lord Fairfax is buried in Winchester at the Christ Episcopal Church.

Tablet on Top of
Lord Fairfax's Tomb

Under this spot repost the remains
Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax of Cameron
Son of Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax
and Cathrine Culpeper, his wife.
Born at Leeds Castle, County Kent, England,
October 22, 1693,
died at his proprietary of the
Northern Neck in Virginia
December 9, 1781,
in the eighty-ninth year of his age.

He was buried in the original
Frederick Parish Church at the corner of
Loudoun (Main) and Boscawen (Water) Streets
whence his remains were removed
to this church in 1828;
where they were re-interred in 1925,
when this tablet was erected by the
vestry of Christ Church.

  This marker replaced a marker with this same title and number erected in the late 1920s or early 1930s that read on the front, “By this road Thomas Lord Fairfax, proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia, was accustomed to pass from his home ‘Greenway Court,’ to preside over sessions of the justices’ court at Winchester, 1749-1769. His tomb is in the crypt of Christ Church, Winchester.”

Lord Fairfax Tomb in courtyard of the Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester, VA  On the back was, “Winchester — At first called Fredericktown, it was founded in 1744, near a Shawnee Indian village, by Colonel James Wood, a native of the English city of Winchester. The town was situated in Lord Fairfax’s proprietary of the Northern Neck. It was chartered in 1752.”

  The 2003 marker is now past the northern city limits of Winchester, in Frederick County. Some old guidebooks placed the old marker on Route 522 at the southern limits of the the city. I could not quite figure out why they decided to locate this marker here. As the old guidebook stated the original marker might have been located on Route 522 south of Winchester, which seems more logical, since it would have been between Greenway Court and Winchester and near where he would have traveled.


  1. Thanks for the post. I am interested in finding a sundial that Lord Fairfax is said to have had. There is a sundial at Leeds Castle in England where he was born that tells the time in Fairfax, VA and they say there is one here that tells the time at Leeds Castle. I believe it may have been at Greenway Court.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I had not heard about the sundial. I checked my other photos to see if I accidentally photographed a sundial, but no such luck. I drive through White Post every once in a while, where Greenway Court was located, I will have to check it out one day.

  2. I am a former Virginian who just visited Leeds this past weekend with my son and Granddaughter and we too heard the same story about the sundial. The online search we did revealed a Washington Post story that says it likely does not exist. My Granddaughter and son would love to prove the story wrong, any further information from Greenway Court?

  3. I live near White Post, Va and would be happy to help with the mystery if anyone has any leads.