Robert Fairfax Seventh Lord Fairfax of Cameron

Male, #38701, (6 Nov 1706 - 15 Jul 1793)
Father*Thomas Fairfax Fifth Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1657 - 6 Jan 1710)
Mother*Catherine Culpeper (1670 - May 1719)
Birth*6 Nov 1706 Robert was born at co. Kent, England, on 6 Nov 1706. 
Baptism7 Nov 1706 He was baptized at co. Kent, England, on 7 Nov 1706.  
Death of Father6 Jan 1710 His father Thomas Fairfax Fifth Lord Fairfax of Cameron died on 6 Jan 1710. 
Death of MotherMay 1719 His mother Catherine Culpeper died in May 1719 at Leeds Castle, Leeds, co. Kent, England
Marriage*1741 He married Martha Collins in 1741. 
Birth of Son27 Dec 1743 His son Thomas Fairfax was born on 27 Dec 1743. 
Marriage1749 He married Dorothy Sarah Best in 1749. 
Residence*between 1768 and 1773 Robert resided at Virginia between 1768 and 1773. 
Will27 Nov 1779 Robert named as heir(s) in the will of Thomas Fairfax Sixth Lord Fairfax of Cameron on 27 Nov 1779.1 
Death*15 Jul 1793 He died on 15 Jul 1793 at age 86. 
Burial*22 Jul 1793 His body was interred on 22 Jul 1793 at Broomfield, co. Kent, England
Biography* 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.
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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 brother.
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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).
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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 embarrassing.
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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.'
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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 July 1793." His will was as follows:
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P. C. C. Dodwell, 413.
Will dated August 15, 1791
Proved August 15, 1793.
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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 inheritance. 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
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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.']
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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.'
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(Source: Fairfax Harrison, "Proprietors of the Northern Neck").

 

Family

Martha Collins (say 1716 - before 31 Jan 1744)
Marriage*1741 He married Martha Collins in 1741. 
Child
ChartsThe Culpepers of Hollingbourne, co. Kent, England (Possibly extinct): Descendant Chart
Last Edited4 Feb 2011

Citations

  1. Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, Will, 1782
    Frederick W. B. 4: 583
    Will dated November 8, 1777
    Codicil dated November 27, 1779
    Proved May 5, 1782.