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