Searching for Hampshire's English Roots

What's in a Name: Forts, Towns and a Home on the Frontier

Part 2 of a series of articles exploring the connection between our Hampshire County,
Lord Fairfax, and England.
This is the Expanded Web Edition


1 = Leeds Castle; 2 = Greenway Court; 3 = White Post

 

Arrival in America

When he first came to Virginia Lord Fairfax stayed with his cousin, William Fairfax, who had been invited by the Proprietor to move from Massachusetts to Virginia. William had been Collector of Customs for Salem and Marblehead, but Thomas arranged through family connections to get William appointed Collector of Customs for the South Potomac District. Lord Fairfax then named William his Virginia land agent for the Northern Neck Proprietary. William bought a property he named Belvoir not far from Mount Vernon. It was here that Lord Fairfax lived when he first came to Virginia. Belvoir burned in the late eighteenth century, and the land is now part of Fort Belvoir Army post. It is still remembered by the sundial at Leeds Castle which can tell the time at Belvoir in Virginia.

Lord Fairfax had surveyed for himself the Manor of Leeds on the heights and east slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and this is where he expected to eventually raise a house. He added to this some more land on the east bank of the Shenandoah River. However, Fairfax eventually settled on a property west of the Shenandoah that he named after the English home where he spent a good bit of his childhood, Greenway Court. It was here after 1741 that he would live out his days in spite of the fact that he gave the title of Greenway Court to his nephew, Thomas Bryan Fairfax, who lived with him. The property is in private hands today and is not open to the public.

Greenway Court

Greenway Court in Kent County, England, was located about five miles east of Leeds Castle. One of the first documents naming the place was in the records of Christ Church, Cantebury, dated 1236 when Gilbert de Greenwaye is named as the resident. It was later bought from Sir Warham St. Leger by Francis Culpeper, son of William Culpeper of Lossenham. This is the same Culpeper family that eventually owned Leeds Castle, so Greenway Court and Leeds finally came into the Fairfax family through Catherine Culpepper's marriage to Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax. (The Culpepper family name seems to have been spelled at various times with either a single or double "p.")

According to an authoritative history of Kent County, England, Greenway Court did not remain in the Fairfax family during the Sixth Lord Fairfax's life. Thomas signed over his lifetime interest in Greenway Court to Robert before he left for America. Although there is some confusion in the line of ownership, the history states that Robert Fairfax sold it to a London banker who died in possession of it in 1763. This is after the time when Lord Fairfax moved his land office from Belvoir to Greenway Court in Virginia.

White Post

Greenway Court in England is located between Harrietsham and Hollinbourne in Kent County. According to The History and Typographical Survey of the County of Kent northeast of Hollingbourne there was a White Post located at the next intersection. Today the village of White Post, Virginia, is the closest community to Greenway Court in Clarke County, Virginia. Tradition in Virginia says there has always been a white sign post at the crossroad noting the way to Greenway Court and also to Winchester.

Maidstone

The seat of government in Kent County, England, is the city of Maidstone which was first chartered in 1549 althouth its history goes back to at least Roman times. It is an important city located on a river and a major road from London. Like Winchester in Hampshire County, it was originally located on a Roman road and river crossing. Maidstone would have been the largest city near Leeds Castle where one could find numerous craftsmen, scholars and churchmen and a major trading center.

During the French and Indian War there was an important storehouse and fort named Maidstone. It was on the Potomac River in present Berkeley County across from the mouth of the Conococheague Creek that flows through Hagerstown, Maryland. Although Lord Fairfax left no notes about its naming, one can conjecture that he had something to do with it since he was the County Lieutenant of Frederick County which originally contained Berkeley County. His nephew, Thomas Bryan Martin, was County Lieutenant of the newly formed Hampshire County. The County Lieutenant was the chief Militia officer of a county.


Timeline of Some Forts and Towns
  • 1236 Earliest record of someone living at Greenway Court manor.
  • 1395 All Saints Church built as the College Church in Maidstone. It is one of the largest and finest Perpendicular churches in England.
  • 1591 Francis Culpeper dies at Greenway Court leaving the manor to his son, Sir Thomas Culpeper who had bought Leeds Castle.
  • 1717 Lady Catherine Fairfax dies and Thomas receives a life interest in Greenway Court
  • 1735 Lord Fairfax comes to America for his first visit.
  • 1736 William Warner completes survey of the Manor of Leeds on the east slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains for Lord Fairfax.
  • 1741 Robert Fairfax, Thomas's youngest brother, marries and moves into Greenway Court, England.
  • 1747 Thomas signs Leeds Castle and Greenway Court over to his youngest brother, Robert, and sails for America never to return to England.
  • 1748 The Town of Winchester is established
  • 1751 Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson publish their first map of Virginia showing the name Winchester and the location of both Greenway Court (noted as "Lord Fairfax") and Romney (original location called Pearsal's).
  • 1754, May, Gov. Dinwiddie visits Greenway Court while awaiting the Indian conference in Winchester that was eventually cancelled.
  • 1755, January, Sir John St. Clair, Braddock's Quartermaster, arrives at Greenway Court on his trip to find a road for Gen. Braddock from Alexandria to Cumberland.
  • 1756 Col. Washington assigns Capt. Stewart to fortify Maidstone.
  • 1762 The Town of Romney is established
  • c.1761 The stone land office building is erected at Greenway Court and the land office moved there from Belvoir.
  • 1763 Francis Child, a London banker, dies possessed of Greenway Court in England.
  • 1781 Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, dies in Virginia and is buried in the old Christ Church in Winchester.


References:
   The History and Typographical Survey of the County of Kent, Vol. V by Edward Hasted; E. P. Publishing Limited in collaboration with Kent County Library, 1972 (facsimile reprint of the 1797-1801 edition).
   Leeds Castle through Nine Centuries by David H. A. Cleggett; Leeds Castle Foundation, Maidstone, Kent, England, 2001.
   History of Leeds Castle and Its Families by David H. A. Cleggett; Leeds Castle Foundation, Maidstone, Kent, England, 1990. [This work appears to have been later enlarged into the work above.]
   Virginia Baron: The Story of Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax by Stuart E. Brown, Jr.; Chesapeake Book Company, Berryville, Virginia, 1965
   Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants by T. K. Cartmell; Chesapeake Book Company, Berryville, Virginia, 1963.
   The Fairfaxes of England and America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including letters from and to Hon. Wiliam Fairfax... and his sons, Col. George William Fairfax and Rev. Bryan, Eight Lord Fairfax, the neighbors and friends of George Washington by Edward D. Neill; Joel Munsell, Albany, New York, 1868 [reprint by The University of Michigan University Library].


Go to Part 3
Old Romney, New Romney and Our Romney

Return to Part 1
Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax and Leeds Castle

Photo Album for Part 2 - Greenway Court


 

Maidstone, Kent County, England