Fairfax History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
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Early Origins of the Fairfax family
The surname Fairfax was first found in Northumberland where the name was derived from the Anglo Saxon words foegr and feax which collectively meant "fair-haired."  "The true ancient family of Fairfax is supposed to be of Saxon origin, and to have been seated at Torcester in Northumberland a the period of the Conquest."  Shirley continues that the Yorkshire branch is perhaps more compelling, "In 1205, Richard Fairfax, the first of the family proved by evidence, was possessed of the lands of Ascahm, not far from the City of York. His grandson purchased the Manor of Walton in the West Riding, which continued for near six hundred years." Fuller in his book "Worthies of England" adds, "in his time [c. 1600-1700], twenty generations of Fairfaxes had resided on one spot, at Walton, co. York." So while there is no doubt the family was originally from Lincolnshire, the Yorkshire branch proves to be the strongest. Another early record points to the string Yorkshire heritage. "Gilling Castle, situated in a fine park on the west of the village [of Gilling], was built by Alan, Earl of Richmond, to repel the frequent attacks of the Saxons and Danes for the recovery of their lost estates; it was afterwards the seat of the Mowbrays, and since the time of Henry VII. has belonged to the family of Fairfax. The church is an ancient edifice with a tower, and contains a vault belonging to the Fairfax family. " 
Early History of the Fairfax family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fairfax research. Another 149 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1205, 1490, 1475, 1520, 1450, 1505, 1464, 1521, 1560, 1640, 1580, 1635, 1588, 1665, 1597, 1673, 1609, 1644, 1665, 1725, 1612, 1671, 1623, 1700, 1592, 1675, 1634, 1702, 1637, 1690, 1656, 1716, 1711, 1687 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Fairfax History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Fairfax Spelling Variations
During the era when a person's name, tribe and posterity was one of his most important possessions, many different spellings were found in the archives examined. Fairfax occurred in many references, and spelling variations of the name found included Fairfax, Fairfacks, Farefax, Fearfax, Ferfax, Furfax, Furfacks, Farefacks, Fearfacks and many more.
Early Notables of the Fairfax family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the family name during their early history was Sir Thomas Fairfax (c.1450-1505) a direct ancestor of both Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge; Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521), an English Renaissance composer, six masses, two Magnificats, thirteen motets, nine part-songs and two instrumental pieces survive; Thomas Fairfax, 1st Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1560-1640), an English soldier, diplomat and politician; and his half-brother, Edward Fairfax (1580?-1635), an English translator; Henry Fairfax (1588-1665), an English priest and academic from Denton, Yorkshire; Charles Fairfax (1597-1673), an English antiquary and genealogist; Sir William Fairfax (1609-1644), an officer in the Parliamentary army...
Another 101 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fairfax Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Fairfax migration to the United States +
Gradually becoming disenchanted with life in Ireland many of these uprooted families sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships often arrived with only 60 to 70% of their original passenger list, many dying of illness and the elements, were buried at sea. In North America, early immigrants bearing the family name Fairfax, or a spelling variation of the surname include:
Fairfax Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
- William Fairfax (Baron) settled in Virginia in 1626
- Nicholas Fairfax, who landed in Maryland in 1633 
- Nicholas Fairfax, who settled in Maryland in 1634
- Thomas Fairfax, who landed in New York in 1649 
- Ferdinando Fairfax, who arrived in Virginia in 1659 
Fairfax Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
- Peter Fairfax, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 
- Lady Fairfax, who landed in Virginia in 1719 
- William Fairfax, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1725 
- William Fairfax, who settled in Maryland in 1742
Fairfax Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
- Lord Fairfax, who settled in Woodburn Maryland
- Count Fairfax, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 
Contemporary Notables of the name Fairfax (post 1700) +
- Sir William George Fairfax (1739-1813), English vice-admiral in the Royal Navy
- William Fairfax (1691-1757), English diplomat and politician, Collector of Customs in Barbados, Chief Justice and Governor of the Bahamas and later Customs agent in Marblehead, Massachusetts
- John Fairfax (1930-2009), English poet
- Russell Lance Fairfax (b. 1952), Australian former professional rugby league footballer and coach of the 1970s and 1980s
- Robert Fairfax (1707-1793), 7th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, Scottish peer, Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1781-1793)
- John Fairfax (1937-2012), British ocean rower and adventurer; the first person to row solo across an ocean in 1969
- John Contee Fairfax (1830-1900), 11th Lord Fairfax, Scottish peer, Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1869-1900)
- Admiral Sir Henry Fairfax KCB, FRGS (1837-1900), Scottish Royal Navy officer, Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, third son of Sir Henry Fairfax, 1st Baronet
- lan Geoffrey Fairfax (b. 1906), Australian cricketer who played in 10 Tests from 1929 to 1931
- Lady Mary Fairfax AC, OBE (1922-2017), born Marie Wein, Polish-born Australian philanthropist, one of Australia's richest women
- ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Related Stories +
The Fairfax Motto +
The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.
Motto: Je le feray durant ma vie
Motto Translation: I will do it so long as I live.
- ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)