The Proprietors of the Northern Neck
Chapter 5c - Leeds Castle
Robert Fairfax (Catherine Culpeper15, wife of Thomas, fifth Lord Fairfax),
1706-1793, seventh Lord Fairfax, was the eighth and youngest child of his mother,
and was named by his father for a dear friend and kinsman, Admiral Robert Fairfax
(1665-1735) of Steeton, co. York. He was born at Leeds Castle, as appears from the entry
of his baptism in the Bromfield register, viz:
Robert, the son of Thomas Lord Fairfax and the Lady Catherine his wife, was born 6
November and baptised 7 November, 1706.
No record of his education survives, or, indeed, of any other activity of his youth.
After his eldest brother had given over the thought of marriage, and his second
brother, Henry Culpeper Fairfax, died in 1734, he became, at the age of 28, heir
presumptive to the family title and to the reversion of the estates in Kent and Virginia
which were entailed under his mother's will. It was then that Lord Fairfax purchased for
him a commission in the Horse Guards (The War Office record, 25: 89, Commisslon Book 1728-41,
shows him Lieutenant, August 14, 1737, and Captain (exempt), July 21, 1739: he was later
styled Major, but the commission does not appear). After Lord Fairfax returned from his
first visit to Virginia and had determined to retire thence for the remainder of his life,
he busied himself in establishing Robert as the resident representative of the family in
England. He secured his return to Parliament as burgess for Maidstone at the session of
1740 (he was returned again in 1747 in the same capacity, and in 1754 and 1761 as Knight
of the Shire for Kent, but failed of re-election to the Parliament of 1767, Official
Returns of M.P., House of Commons Papers, 1878, vol. 62), and arranged his first
marriage (April 25, 1741). Robert then went to live at the old Greenway Court; but, upon
Lord Fairfax's final departure for Virginia in 1747, removed to Leeds Castle, which he
called home during the remainder of a life which was protracted almost to the years of his
When George Fairfax of Belvoir was in England in 1757 and again in 1762, he tried to
persuade Robert Fairfax to go out to Virginia with him, urging (Neill, p. 133), 'it would
be much to your interest to see once what must shortly be your property;' but it was not
until the summer of 1768, after he had failed of re-election to Parliament, that Robert
made the voyage (See the notice of his arrival in the Virginia Gazette, August 25,
1768). Thenceforth he appears often as a visitor at Belvoir in George Washington's diaries
for the years 1768 to 1770, so that he must have spent several years in America. In 1775,
however, he was again established at Leeds Castle (Neill, p. 164).
On the death of Robert Fairfax's only son in 1747, George became heir presumptive to
the family title, but not to the Culpeper estates. Robert seems to have been willing to do
what he could to secure to George, out of his inheritance, compensation for the alienation
of the Fairfax estates in Yorkshire, but his own extravagant habits and the weakness of
his character, which is revealed by his portrait, nullified that purpose. Indeed, the shoe
was on the other foot: in 1785 George wrote to his brother Bryan that he had been
compelled to lend money to Robert on so many occasions that the calls on him had become
At last, on the death of his older brother in 1781, Robert succeeded as seventh Lord
Fairfax, being himself now seventy-five years of age. Under the terms of his mother's will
he then, in his own right, became tenant in tail of Leeds Castle and of five-sixths of the
Northern Neck proprietary. The Virginia estate, which was his principal expectation of
revenue, had however, by that time been sequestered by the new Commonwealth; and Robert,
Lord Fairfax, was accordingly remitted for relief to the act of Parliament (28 George III,
c. 44) passed for the relief of the American Loyalists. His memorial to the commission
created under that act was dated April 20, 1786 (P.R.O. Audit Office, 13:28) and upon it
he was allowed and paid £13,006 8s. as the measure of his life interest in the
proprietary (See Eardly-WiImot, Historical View of the Commission for . . . Claims of
the American Loyalists, 1815). This allowance was, however, swallowed up by creditors
so that when he died he was in great straits (See obituary in Gentleman's Magazine, August,
1793). It was, indeed, recorded that 'this last nobleman after living in the most
extravagant profusion, was buried in a manner more humble than the corpse of one of the
meanest cultivators of his estate.'
He was buried in Bromfield, where the following entry was made in the register:
Robert Lord Fairfax of Leeds Castle was born 6 November, 1706, died 15 and bur. 22
His will was as follows:
P. C. C. Dodwell, 413.
Will dated August 15, 1791
Proved August 15, 1793.
Robert Lord Fairfax, of Leeds Castle, co. Kent. To be bur. in the family vault in
the parish church of Bromfield. To my nephew, the Rev. Denny Martin Fairfax, D. D., all my
manors, etc., in Great Britain, America & elsewhere & all my goods absolutely
& he to be exor. Witns. George Burr, Chas. Topping, Stepn. Lamprey.
Prob. by Rev. Denny Martin Fairfax, D. D., nephew & exor.
He m., 1st, 1741, Martha, dau. of Anthony Collins (1676-1729) of Sandon, co. Essex,
These Collins, cadets of an ancient family of the Isle of Wight, had been successful
lawyers of the Middle Temple for two generations, when the grandfather of Robert Fairfax's
wife became a country gentleman by the purchase in 1687 of the manor of Sandon in Essex
(Morant, i, 27). Her father, a disciple of Locke, achieved some notoriety in his day by
his deistical writings (See D.N.B.). He married a daur. of the banker, Sir Francis Child,
bart., the elder, and, in consequence, when he o.s.p.m. [died without surviving
male issue], his two daughters were considerable heiresses by reason of their mother's
Martha was buried in Bromfield, January 31, 1743/4, as
The Hon. Mrs. Martha Fairfax, wife of the Hon. Robert Fairfax.
and by her had
i Thomas, 1743-1747, o.s.p.
The London Magazine, January 24, 1743/4, announced 'The Lady of Major Fairfax was
delivered of a son and heir December 27.'
He was baptised in Bromfield, December 28, 1743, as 'Thomas, son of the Hon. Robert
Fairfax, esquire, and of Mrs. Martha Fairfax, his wife;' and was buried there April 20,
1747, as 'The Hon. Thomas Fairfax, infant.']
2d, 1749, Dorothy Sarah, dau. of Mawdistly Best of Park-house in Boxley, co. Kent, s.p.
She was the granddaughter of Thomas Best of Chatham, brewer, who died leaving a
great fortune; on the strength of which his son, Mawdistly Best, purchased, in 1720,
Parkhouse in Boxley and there served the office of Sheriff of Kent in 1730. He died, 1744,
leaving, in addition to Robert Fairfax's wife, two sons: Thomas Best of Chilston (which he
purchased from the Hamilton descendants of the first Lord Culpeper), who m. a Scott of
Scots-hall and was some time M.P. for Canterbury; and James Best of Parkhouse in Boxley,
who, like his father, was some time Sheriff of Kent (Hasted, i. 540; ii, 130, 435; and the
Best pedigree in Berry, Kent, p. 382).
Like Robert Fairfax's first wife, Dorothy Best was 'a fortune.' She was buried
in Bromfield, May:23, 1750, as 'Dorothy Sarah, wife of the Hon. Robert Fairfax, in the
vault of the family.'
XVI. Frances Fairfax Martin (Catherine Culpeper15,
wife of Thomas, fifth Lord Fairfax), 1703-1791, the sixth child of her mother, was
baptised in Bromfield, November 19, 1703, as 'Frances the daughter of Thomas Lord Fairfax
and the Lady Catherine his wife.' In 1721 she married a neighbour, Denny Martin
(1695-1762) of Salts in Loose, co. Kent, and thereafter lived a retired life, appearing in
this record only in her progeny, several of whom played parts on the Virginia scene, as
the representatives of the final generation of the descendants of the first Lord Culpeper.
Like her eldest brother, she died in her eighty-ninth year; and was buried in the
Martin vault in the church of Loose, where the MI. records that 'here also lieth the
body of the Honble. Frances Martin, wife of Denny Martin esq. and daughter of the Right
Honble. Thomas Lord Fairfax. She [died] 13 Dec. 1791, in the 89th year of her age.'
The parish register supplements this with the further testimony that she was buried
December 20, 1791.
The parish of Loose takes its name from the stream, a tributary of the Medway, on which
it lies. It is some three miles directly south of Maidstone and so in the vicinity of
Leeds Castle. The manor of 'Salts' in this parish was held, from the time of Henry VII to
the beginning of the eighteenth century, by the family of Buffkin (Hasted, ii, 138). In
February, 1710/11, a childless representative of that family, one Ralph Buffkin, died,
leaving a will dated February 25, 1700/1 (proved March 20, 1710/11, P. C. C. Young,
51) by which he devised
to my cousin John Martin of the city of Westminster, gent., my manor and manor
house called Brushing Court and lands thereto [appertaining] in Broughton-Mouchelsea and
Langley in co. Kent ... also my capital messuage called Salts and lands thereto
[appertaining] now in my occupation in Loose aforesaid and East Farleigh, co. Kent . . .
all in fee, he paying thereout to my cousins Leavin Buffkin and Ralph Buffkin .£100
apiece, if living, they being now in the West Indies.
This John Martin (1652-1730) was a remote kinsman of the Buffkins, descended of a race
of clergymen, and was born at Staniner (near Lewes), co. Sussex. Following his fortunate
inheritance, he removed his residence from London to Salts in the spring of 1711 and
brought with him his son and heir; and that son, after marrying and burying within the
year (1719) the sister of the contemporary parson of Loose, took Frances Fairfax as his
Mr. C. Wykeham-Martin, who owed his tenure of Leeds Castle to this family, though as
remote of kin to them as John Martin had been to the Buffkins, piously compiled a Martin
pedigree for his History of Leeds Castle (1868); but, with a characteristic lack of
interest in all documents later than the middle ages, did not print the capital
genealogical testimony for them.
This is an MI. on a stone in the floor of the chancel of the church of Loose, over a
vault originally constructed by the Buffkins. Though somewhat defaced, when supplemented
by the parish registers, the earliest portion of it reads as follows:
Remember thy Creator in the day of thy Youth.
Here lieth the body of William Buffkin esq. who died 8 Jan. A.D. 1698(?) Here also lieth
the body of Sibylla [Michelborne] wife of John Martin esq. who departed this life 30 May
A. D. 1714 [sic, the parish register reads 1724] in the 78th year of her age. Here also
lieth the body of John Martin esq. who departed this life 7 June 1730 in the 79th year of
his age. [Here also lieth the] body of Hannah [Briggs, first] wife of Denny Martin gent.
She dyed. . . . Aug. 1719 in the 32nd year of her age. [Here also lieth the body of Denny
Martin esq. . . . ['cetera desunt' as to him but the parish register records his burial
February 20, 1762, as 'Denny Martin, Esq. of Salts'
The children of Frances Fairfax, remarkable for their longevity and the fact that no
one of them ever married, were as follows:
i Ed ward, 1723-1775, o.s.p.
He was baptised in Loose, March 24, 1722/3, as 'Edward the son of Denny Martin
and Frances his wife,' served in the army, succeeded to Salts on the death of his
father in 1762, and was buried in Loose, January 21, 1775, as, 'Edward Martin, Esq. of
Salts.' The item as to him on the family MI. already quoted reads 'Here also lieth
the body of Edwd. Martin, esq. late Major 24th (?) Regt. of Foot, eldest son of Denny
Martin and the Honble. Frances Martin. He died 12 Jan. 1775 in the 52 year of his age.'
ii John, 1724-1746, o.s.p.
He was baptised in Loose, August 30, 1724, as 'John the son of Denny Martin,
gent. and Frances his wife.' His, death is not recorded in the Loose register, nor on
the family ML. He seems to have begun a career in the Royal Navy. Mr. Wykeham-Martin says
that he died at Portsmouth, unmarried, in his twenty-second year; certainly, he is not
referred to in the later family documents.
iii Denny, 1725-1800, o.s.p.
He was baptised in Loose, September 26, 1725, as 'Denny the son of Mr. Denny Martin
and Francis his wife;' matriculated at University College, Oxford, December 17, 1744, 'aged
19,' whence he proceeded B.A., 1748, and M.A., 1751 (Foster). Later, he was granted
also the.degree of D. D. Taking orders, he was collated curate of Bromfield and was so
serving in 1760 when Hasted (ii, 484) wrote his account of that parish: eventually he
became also parson of Loose, and so remained until his death.
Under the will of the sixth Lord Fairfax he was vested in 1781 with Alexander
Culpeper's undivided sixth in the Northern Neck proprietary as well as the 'manors'
therein, which Lord Fairfax had reserved to his own use; upon condition that he should
procure an act of Parliament changing his name to Fairfax. On August 10, 1782, he duly
assumed that name by royal license (London Gazette, No. 12320, cited in Phillimore
& Fry, Changes of Name, 1905) ; and, after the Jay treaty of September 1783 had
been ratified with its provision assuring the protection of alien titles to lands in
America, went out to Virginia to assert his claim to his inheritance. Virginia was,
however, loath to recognise his claim and put him to his remedy. He thereupon retained
John Marshall and in 1786 filed the caveats against Virginia patents for Northern Neck
land (see in the Land Office at Richmond the book called Caveats No. 1, 1786-1814,
pp. 51, 55, 56, 84, 86), which precipitated the litigation reported as Hunter v.
Fairfax's devisee, 1 Munford (Va.), 218; 7 Cranch (U.S.), 603; 4 Munford (Va.),
3; 1 Wheaton (U.S.), 304. In 1793, on the death of Robert, Lord Fairfax, he succeeded
also, under the entail of Catherine Culpeper's will, to the full proprietary title as well
as to Leeds Castle; and then, being weary of the protracted and still undetermined
litigation, sold out his claims in Virginia to John Marshall, James M. Marshall and
Raleigh Colston for £20,000. It was these purchasers who negotiated with the Virginia
Assembly in 1796 the settlement by which, in consideration of the waiver of the
proprietary rights, 'the devisees of Lord Fairfax' were confirmed in possession of Lord
Fairfax's manors (Shepherd, ii, 22, 140). The story of these proceedings has been
admirably, and it would seem definitively, recorded by Mr. H. C. Groome in Fauquier
Historical Society Bulletin No. 1, 1921.
Although no question had been raised in Virginia as to technical compliance by Dr.
Fairfax with the condition of his uncle's will, out of abundant caution in the interest of
his own title, John Marshall now stipulated that a change of name by royal license was not
what Lord Fairfax had required; so that it 'was at this time (1797) and not until this
time, that Dr. Fairfax procured an act of Parliament further authorizing him to bear the
name and arms of Fairfax (37 Geo. III, 'c. 3, private; Cf. the act of Virginia of
April 7, 1858, Acts 1857-58, ch. 45, p. 46, dispensing with proof of this act of
By deed dated August 30, 1797 (see the recitals in Marshall v. Conrad, 5 Call,
370), Denny Martin Fairfax terminated his family's interest in the proprietary, reserving
for further disposition the manor of Leeds; and thereafter, on April 15, 1800, died and
was buried in Loose, April 15, 1800, as 'The Revd. Denny Martin Fairfax, D. D.,
minister of this parish.'
His MI. was as follows:
Here also lieth the body of Denny Martin Fairfax, D. D. 3rd son of Denny & the
Horible. Frances Martin. He died 3 Apr. 1800 in the 74th year of his age.
His will was as follows:
P.C.C. Adderley, 596.
Will dated May 19. 1798.
Proved August 13, 1800.
Denny Martin Fairfax, D. D., lately called Denny Martin, clerk, of Leeds Castle,
Kent. My messuages, etc., at Loose & also at Brushing, Langley, Boughton-Mouchelsea
& Maidstone between my three sisters, Frances, Sibylla & Anna Susanna Martin, in
fee in common. All manors, etc., in Colony or State of Virginia devised to me by will of
my uncle Thomas, late Lord Fairfax, which shall remain undisposed of at my death, also all
manors in cos. Kent & Sussex & elsewhere in Great Britain (my oldest brother
Thomas Bryan Martin being otherwise amply provided for) to my younger brother, Major
General Philip Martin, in fee, charged as hereinafter. If he die before me, all sd. lands
to my sd. 3 sisters in fee in common. To each sister £4,000 in 3 pc. Consols, charged on
sd. real estate if necessary. To sd. brother, T. B. M. £1,000. Rest of goods to sd.
brother Philip M. He & my sd. 3 sisters to be exors. Witns. Tho. Gregory, John
Barnes, John Fawler of Cliffords Inn.
Prob. by Major General Philip Martin, bro. & one of the exors. Power
reserved to Frances Martin, Sibylla Martin & Anna Susanna Martin, the sisters &
iv Frances, 1727-1813. unmarried.
She was baptised in Loose, October 29, 1727, as 'Frances the daughter of Denny
Martin, gent. and of Frances his wife,' and was there buried also, April 5, 1813, as 'Frances
Martin, Leeds Castle, 86.'
Her will, 'Frances Martin of Leeds Castle, co. Kent, spinter.' dated June 23,
1798 (proved May 20, 1813, P.C.C. Heathfield, 260) bequeathed an estate of £10,000
personalty to be held to the use of her sisters Sibylla and Anna Susanna with remainder to
'my brother Philip Martin, esquire;' and a legacy to 'my brother Thomas Brian
Martin of the State of Virginia in America.'
v Sibylla, 1729-1816, unmarried.
She was baptised in Loose, March.23, 1728/9, as 'Sibilla the daughter of Denny
Martin, gentleman, and Frances his wlife,' and was there buried also, February 14,
1816, as 'Sibylla Martin, Leeds Castle, 86.'
Her will, 'Sybilla Martin of Leeds Castle, co. Kent, spinster,' dated June 23,
1798 (proved May 7, 1816, P.C.C. Wynne, 269) was made on the same day and was
similar in terms to that of her sister Frances, bequeathing an estate of £12,000
personalty to the use of her surviving sisters with remainder to her brother Philip.
vi Thomas Bryan, 1731-1798, o.s.p.
He was baptised in Loose, April 11, 1731, as 'Thomas Brian the son of Denny
Martin, gent. and Frances his wife.' In 1751 when he was 20 he went out to Virginia on
the invitation of his, uncle, the sixth Lord Fairfax, and was established at 'his
lordship's quarter' in Frederick (now Clarke) ; where his uncle soon joined him in
residence. When he came of age he was vested by a grant dated May 21, 1752 (N. N., H:
179), with the 'quarter' and 8,840 acres of surrounding limestone lands, lying on the west
bank of the Shenandoah across from Leeds Manor (Cf. Hening, x, 124). This tract was
then designated in the grant, 'Greenway Court,' in memory of the Culpeper manor in
He was thereupon at once included in the commission and the vestry for Frederick. When
the Northern Neck land office was removed from Belvoir in 1762 it was established at
Greenway Court and thenceforth he was in charge of it (See William Allason's Letter
Book, MS. Virginia State Library).
In 1755 he was County Lieutenant for Hampshire while his uncle served that office for
Frederick (Journals H. B., 1752-58, p. 374; Dinwiddie Papers), and sat in
the Assembly of 1756-58 as burgess for Hampshire; but in the Assembly of 1758-61 he was
George Washington's colleague for Frederick (Stanard, Colonial Register). In 1758
and 1776 he was an original trustee for the towns of Winchester and Bath (Hening, viii,
326; ix, 247); but when the Revolution came he withdrew from the Frederick Court (Cartmel,
p. 93) and all participation in public business, and thenceforth lived in retirement at
His monument is the town of Martinsburg (now in W. Va.) which was named in his honour
when it was laid out in 1778 by Col. Adam Stephen (Hening, ix, 569; Kercheval, p. 182).
He died unmarried, leaving the Greenway Court house and demesne land to his house
keeper (for whose descendants see Kercheval, p. 159; Cartmel, p. 275) under the following
Winchester District Court W. B.
Will dated July 24, 1794.
Codicil dated June 22, 1797.
Proved October 1, 1798.
I Thomas Bryan Martin of Greenway Court in the County of Frederick and Commonwealth
To my present housekeeper Betsy Powers 1,000 acres where I now live [i.e., Greenway
Court] with all houses thereon, household goods (except plate and watch), one half of
stock of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs and choice of ten slaves. To sisters Frances,
Sybilla, and Anna Susanna Martin, plate and watch, all moneys, and remainder of personal
property not bequeathed to Betsy Powers. To each of my executors 10 guineas.
I give and devise all the rest of my real estate in possession, reversion or remainder,
within the Commonwealth of Virginia and also the aforesaid one thousand acres of land if
Betsy Powers aforesaid does not survive me, unto Gabriel Jones of the County of Rockingham
Esq., Robert Mackey of the Borough of Winchester and County of Frederick, and John Sherman
Woodcock of the said County of Frederick, gentlemen, to be sold by them or the survivors
or survivor of them at such time and in such parcels and in such manner as they or the
survivors or survivor of them shall judge most advantageous; and the money arising from
such sales [See Commonwealth v. Martin's executors, 5 Munford (Va), 117] and the
rents and profits of the said lands which may accrue before the sale I give and bequeath
to my Sisters hereinbefore named that is to say Frances, Sybilla, and Anna Susanna to be
equally divided between them or such of them as shall survive me; or if neither of them
survive me, then to my Brothers Denny Fairfax and Philip to be equally divided between
them if alive at the time of my death, and if either of them dead to the survivor then
alive; subject however to the payment of my just Debts and of the legacies bequeathed to
my executors as aforesaid.'
Executors, Gabriel Jones, Robert Mackey and John Sherman Woodcock.
Witnesses, Charles Lee, John Brownley, A. Brownley.
Codicil: To Betsy Powers chariot and harness and 160 acres 'near the town of Falmouth
in the County of Stafford' purchased since execution of will. Witnesses, M. Page, Charles
McGill, Philip Bush.
Proved by John Sherman Woodcock and Robert Mackey who each gave bond $66,500. current
vii Philip, 1733-1821, o.s.p.
He was baptised in Loose, August 12, 1733, as 'Philip, the son of Denny
Martin, gent. and of Frances his wife;' entered the army in the artillery arm; was
present throughout the siege of Gibraltar of 1779-83, when he had the cock of his hat shot
off by a 26 pound ball, was mentioned in dispatches and promoted (Drinkwater, History
of the Siege of Gibraltar, 1785; Spilsbury's Journal, 1908). Emerging from that
adventure as a major, he subsequently rose by seniority to be a major general.
On the death of his elder brother, Denny (1800), he succeeded to Leeds Castle;
and there, attended by his three maiden sisters, lived out his life unmarried.
Being vested by the will of his brother Denny (1798) with the Virginia manor of Leeds,
he divested himself of that property by a deed dated October 15, 1806 (of which a copy
survives in the Fauquier record of Marshall v. Foley, Land Causes Book B: 267) and
thereby finally broke the chain which had bound the Culpepers to Virginia since 1609.
He was buried in the vault at Loose, August 11, 1821, as 'General Philip Martin,
Leeds Castle, 88.'
As he survived his sisters and was the last leaf on his own family tree, as well as on
that of his branch of the Culpepers, he sought and found an heir among the Wykehams, who
were remote kinsmen on his father's side; and to him left Leeds Castle and £30,000 in the
funds, being, in large part, the proceeds of Thomas Bryan Martin's lands in Virginia
(which he had inherited from his sisters) under the following will:
P.C.C. Mansfield, 514.
Will dated September 29, 1817,
with codicil dated April 23, 1819.
Proved September 19, 1821.
Philip Martin of Leeds Castle, co. Kent, esq., a General in H. Army.
All to Fiennes Wykeharn with the request that he assume the name and arms of Martin
[which he duly did as Wykeham-Martin, leaving descendants who, under that name, have since
resided at Leeds Castle].
Rev. Sir John Filmer, of East Sutton, Kent, Bt. & William Baldwin, of StreethilI,
Kent, esq., to be executors.
viii Anna Susanna, 1736-1817, unmarried.
She was baptised in Loose, July 4, 1736, as 'Anna Susanna the daughter of Denny
Martin, gent. and Frances his wife, ' and was there buried also, August 4, 1817, as 'Anna
Susanna, Leeds Castle, 81.'
Her will, 'Anna Susanna Martin, formerly of Salts but now of Leeds Castle, co. Kent,
spinster,' dated March 26, 1817 (proved October 16, 1817, P.C.C. Effingham, 535),
left, after numerous legacies to friends, 'my manors, lands, etc.' and remainder of
£35,000 personalty to 'my brother Philip Martin of Leeds Castle aforesaid, esquier, a
General in H. M. Army.'
Postscript) (To Appendix)
Last Revised: 20 Nov 2001