Viscount Fairfax

William 3rd Viscount Fairfax & Elizabeth Goodrick

William Fairfax,3rd Viscount Fairfax of Emley; Elizabeth Goodricke. Elizabeth (née Smith), Viscountess Fairfax of Emley (later Lady Goodricke) (died 1692),first marrird 3rd Viscount Fairfax of Emley, and 2nd Sir John Goodricke Bart.picture painted about 1647.

To Explain the connections between the families of Goodricke Pigott and others I suggest that the Fairfax Family be read from the 1st Viscount Emley.


Sir Thomas Fairfax, 1st  Viscount Emley


Sir William was succeeded by his only son Thomas. He was married twice: first in 1594 to the eldest daughter of Sir Henry Constable, Catherine, by whom he had six sons and five daughters; and secondly in 1626-7 to Mary, daughter of Robert Ford and the widow of Sir William Bamburgh, Bart., of Howsham. Thomas was knighted in 1601 by James I on his way from Scotland .


Sir Thomas was one of the Council of the North in 1599 and 1602, and High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1627. In 1629 he paid £1300 for the Irish Viscountcy of Emley. Such titles were being sold by Charles I to raise money (however one of Sir Thomas’s friends said he only paid £900). Thus Sir Thomas became Viscount Fairfax of Emley in the County of Tipperary . In 1609 he was made Vice President of the Council of the North and in 1617 he supported Sir Thomas Wentworth as Lord President of the North. In 1601 he had been MP for Boroughbridge. In spite of all this Sir Thomas represented Hedon in Parliament from 1620-1622 and from 1624-1626.


Sir Thomas died on 23 December 1636 at Howsham. In Scrayingham church there is a memorial tablet to him and I presume he is buried there, although in his will he wished to be buried at Walton. He left to the poor of Walton and Gilling £10 each, his wife £100 and his best coach and four horses. His servant William Laskew is to feed at Gilling Castle all his life. His grandson William (son and heir apparent of his eldest son Thomas) to be tutored by Thomas Viscount Wentworth, his cousin, and Henry Fairfax his second son.


Five years after his succession Sir Thomas made an inventory of his possessions at Walton Hall, which he owned as well as Gilling. He left an estate worth some £2700 per annum. Walton Hall was lavishly furnished in the great chamber there was a substantial quantity of furniture.


Later Lord Emleys


Lord Thomas Fairfax the first lord was succeeded by his son, also Thomas, who became the second Lord Fairfax. He was already forty years of age. He married Alathea, daughter of Philip Howard, Knight, of Naworth Castle in Cumberland . They had a family of seven children, five sons and two daughters. Of these the eldest son William became the third lord. William was born at Naworth Castle in 1620 and was just 21 years of age when he succeeded his father.


On August 23 1641 King Charles raised the Royal Standard at Nottingham and the Civil War began. Lord William, whose close relations were on the side of Parliament, was no doubt most cautious regarding his orientation, and the manner in which General Fairfax dealt with Helmsley Castle no doubt persuaded him to keep quiet.


William married Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Smith Esq. of Stutton in the county of Suffolk , and had issue one daughter and two sons. On his death she married second Sir John Goodricke and by him had an only son, John, born 16th October, 1654, who eventually succeeded as the third Baronet. At the time of the marriage to Sir John Goodricke Lady Fairfax had an only daughter, Catherine, afterwards wife of Benjamin Mildmay, Lord Fitzwalter ; and had two sons, Thomas, who was the fourth Viscount Fairfax, and William, having died in infancy. At the Restoration Sir John Goodricke was elected one of the Knights of the Shire for co. York , and served as a Deputy ­Lieutenant.


 William Fairfax died in 1648 to be succeeded by his eldest son Thomas, the fourth lord. This Thomas was 28 when he succeeded, and died in 1650 with no direct heir. The Viscountcy therefore passed to Thomas’s uncle, his father’s brother Charles, the fifth lord. Charles was born in 1632, and married Abigail daughter of Sir John Yates of Buckland in Berkshire . They unfortunately had only one child, Alethea, who married Widdrington whose son was attainted for his share in the rising of 1715, sent to the Tower but finally pardoned. Lord Charles held the Gilling Estates for 61 years but took no part in public life. He died in 1711.


The sixth Viscount, according to Burke’s Extinct Peerages, was Nicholas the great-nephew of his predecessor Charles. He had an only sister, Mary, who was to become the second wife of her cousin the ninth and last Viscount. It is possible that this heir Nicholas never succeeded. His monument in the parish church of Walton states that he died in 1702 which was nine years before his uncle. In fact the sixth Viscount was another Charles, the only son of Nicholas junior and great-nephew of the Charles who had died in 1711.


To make things more complicated Charles was succeeded by his uncle Charles, who was a younger brother of Nicholas junior mentioned above. He was 50 when he came to inherit. He was a Catholic and was listed as a non-juror in 1715, holding land at Gilling and Ampleforth etc. valued at £759-1-0. This income was subject to some annuities, to Dame Mary Huggate £50, and to Mary Fairfax £40 until she was 18 years of age. This Mary became 18 in 1720 and married her cousin in 1721. Again the estates were only held by Charles for a short time as he died in 1719 aged 53, and unmarried.


The succession now passed to a cousin, William Fairfax Esq. of Lythe near Whitby , second son of the Hon. William Fairfax of Lythe. He had been the second son of Thomas the first Viscount Emley by Catherine, daughter of Sir Henry Constable. The Hon William married twice, the second wife being Mary, daughter of Marmaduke Cholmeley of Brandsby. By her he had two children, Charles and William. Charles, the elder, died without issue in 1713, and William the second son inherited the Gilling Estates in 1719, and held them for 20 years. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Gerard, and had two sons and one daughter: Charles, Richard and Alathea. It was to Alathea’s descendants that Gilling passed after the deaths of her brother Charles, the ninth and last Viscount and the Hon. Anne Fairfax, his daughter who died unmarried.


The alterations to the castle from a Tudor style to a more up-to-date one were a consequence of the more stable and tolerant attitude to Roman Catholics during the Georgian period, and it is no doubt the work of Viscount William. The designs may have been the brainchild of Sir John Vanbrugh who was working at the time on Duncombe Park , Newburgh and Beningbrough, but their execution was carried out by Wakefield of Huby. Gill in his Vallis Eboracensis attributes the northern wing to the last Lord Fairfax - number nine - who succeeded in 1739. Originally a great beech avenue enhanced the view from the west front and was part of Vanbrugh’s original design. Many if not all of these trees were cut down after the first sale of the estate in 1929. In the woods around the Fairfax Lakes and along the path known as Mrs Barnes’ Walk some of these magnificent trees still exist. These are part of an avenue leading to a temple at the end of Gilling Scar.


Lord William of Lythe came from a strong Roman Catholic family and area, which included such neighbouring villages as Egton Bridge , still with its Roman Catholic church, and Ugthorpe. Lord William employed and encouraged recruitment to the Roman Catholic faith amongst his tenantry. The Rev. Nicholas Gouge, Rector of Gilling, made a return of papists and suspected papists in his parish in 1735. Apart from Lord Fairfax, Mrs. Fairfax and Charles Fairfax there were no less than 23 accredited Roman Catholics. He complained that several children baptised by him in Gilling Church were being confirmed by a Roman Catholic Bishop of York and that some of his parishioners were being perverted to the popish religion. He also reported that there was a place in the village where mass was performed.


In 1722 there was a particular chaplain at Gilling Castle, Father Rokeby, who together with Lord Fairfax was protected by the Earl of Carlisle (who I believe was the Protestant side of the Howard family) who must have been tolerant to his Roman Catholic tenantry. However Father Rokeby left the country for a while and was excommunicated. Rokeby’s successor was Father Stourton who was made chaplain in 1741. Even when living in Whenby, Father Stourton was reported as being active in Gilling at that time; and that papists assembled in Gilling from many nearby places to celebrate mass there. It must have been difficult for all concerned in the village, especially for those who worked for the Fairfaxes and had to comply with the law of the land in attending the parish church.


Lord William died in 1738 and was succeeded by his elder son Charles Gregory, who became the ninth Viscount Emley, and Lord of the Manor of Walton, Gilling and Acaster Malbys. In 1719 he married the widow of William Constable, Viscount Dunbar. She died without issue in 1721, and he took as his second wife Mary, the daughter of Nicholas Fairfax of Walton and sister of Charles the sixth Viscount. Although they had sons and daughters, two sons died before 1736 and two others, Charles and Nicholas, died in 1740 (of the smallpox), and in July 1741 Lady Mary died leaving her husband without a male heir. Two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne, survived. In 1753 Elizabeth died leaving Anne alone to comfort him in his declining years. Between 1750 and 1753 Fairfax House in York was built by Charles Gregory, but he only lived in it for ten years.


Charles died in 1772 and Anne succeeded. She entrusted the running of the estate to Father Boulton her chaplain. However, a possible heir to the estate was Nathaniel Pigott. He was also a Roman Catholic. His mother had been Alathea Fairfax, only daughter of the eighth baron, Viscount William, and sister of the last Viscount. In 1775 Nathaniel Pigott came over from France and paid a visit to his cousin at Gilling, and undertook to manage her estates and took up residence in the castle. He was paid £250 per annum for his services. In a deed dated January 6th 1776 Anne left all her property to his second son Charles Gregory. Although this deed was appealed against successfully she still made Charles Gregory her heir. As she realised that a change of religion would prove detrimental to her chaplain Father Boulton, she bought a piece of land at Ampleforth 30 acres in extent, and built a house and chapel for him to live in. This was called Ampleforth Lodge and eventually developed into Ampleforth Abbey.


John Goodricke’s cousin Edward Piggott (1753 – 1825) son of Nathaniel Piggott,  (1725–1804), astronomer, shared the same interests in astronomy. They quickly formed a partnership exchanging notes and ideas, 28 year old Edward being an organiser and John at 17 full of new ideas and imagination. And from a window in the Treasurer's House, City of York, (John`s home at that time) the young deaf and dumb astronomer John Goodrick, who was elected a fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 21, observed the periodicity of the star ALGOL and discovered the variation of CEPHEL and other stars thus laying the foundation of modern measurement of the Universe.


Nathaniel Pigott (1725–1804), astronomer, was born at his grandfather's house in Whitton, Middlesex, the only surviving son of Ralph Pigott (d. 1731), a lawyer of the Middle Temple, and his wife, Alethea, the daughter of William, ninth Viscount Fairfax, Charles Gregory Pigott succeeded him. He changed his name to Fairfax . He was brought up as a Catholic, but  under the influence of his wife, Mary Goodricke, who was  Protestant. All the children were brought up as Protestants, three sons and three daughters. Mary Anne was born in 1795 and died at the age of 14 years. A son, Charles Gregory born in 1796, eventually succeeded to his father’s estates. A second son, Henry, died in infancy and a third, Thomas, was born in 1800 and died unmarried at the age of 28 in 1828. Two younger daughters, Lavinia and Harriet, born in 1802 and 1804 respectively, reverted to their father’s faith. Harriet turned Roman Catholic when she married Francis Cholmeley of Brandsby, a strong Catholic family. Lavinia married the Rector of Gilling, the Rev. Alexander James Barnes M.A., and turned Catholic when he died in 1865. Mary Fairfax died in 1845 and endowed Gilling Church with the Reredos, much of the altar furnishings and communion plate.


Foot Notes


Gilling Castle is a castle near to Gilling East, North Yorkshire (grid reference SE611768). The castle was originally the home of the Etton family, who appeared there at the end of the 12th century. It was Thomas de Etton who built the fortified manor house in the 14th Century - a large tower almost square, whose basement still forms the core of the present building.


In 1349 his father had settled the manor of Gilling on his wife's family, the Fairfaxes, in the event of the failure of the Ettons. Thus, Thomas Fairfax was able to claim the property in 1489, and it was his great grandson, Sir William Fairfax, who succeeded in 1571, and undertook the rebuilding of the old 14th century house. Building on top of the medieval walls and leaving the ground floor intact he rebuilt the first and second floors, adding at the back (east) a staircase turret and a bay window. The Great Chamber was also built at this time.


At the beginning of the 18th century the owner, now Viscount Fairfax of Emley, remodelled much of the interior of the house and added the wings enclosing the front (west) court. Though this work has often been attributed to John Vanbrugh it was more probably by James Gibbs, the architect of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and of the Radcliffe Camera, Oxford.


On the death of Mrs Barnes (Lavinia Fairfax) in 1885, this branch of the family became extinct and the castle, after passing through several hands, was bought by Ampleforth Abbey in 1929. The vendor, however, retained the panelling and glass of the Great Chamber and sold it separately. It was recovered for Gilling, with the help of the Pilgrim Trust and many friends and subscribers,and restored to its old home in 1952.



Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron (January 17, 1612 November 12, 1671) was a general and commander-in-chief during the English Civil War.

Born at Denton , near Otley, Yorkshire, Fairfax was the eldest son of Ferdinando Fairfax, 2nd Lord Fairfax of Cameron. He studied at St John's College, Cambridge (1626-29), and then proceeded to the Netherlands to serve as a volunteer with the English army in the Low Countries under Sir Horace (Lord) Vere. This connection led to one still closer; in the summer of 1637 Fairfax married Anne Vere, the daughter of the general.


Pre-Civil War events


The Fairfaxes, father and son, though serving at first under King Charles I (Thomas commanded a troop of horse, and was knighted by the king in 1640), were opposed to the arbitrary prerogative of the Crown, and Sir Thomas declared that "his judgment was for the Parliament as the king and kingdom's great and safest council". When Charles endeavoured to raise a guard for his own person at York, intending it, as the event afterwards proved, to form the nucleus of an army, Fairfax was employed to present a petition to his sovereign, entreating him to hearken to the voice of his parliament, and to discontinue the raising of troops. This was at a great meeting of the freeholders and farmers of Yorkshire convened by the king on Heworth Moor near York . Charles evaded receiving the petition, pressing his horse forward, but Fairfax followed him and placed the petition on the pommel of the king's saddle. The incident is typical of the times and of the actors in the scene.


The Civil War


War broke out, Lord Fairfax was appointed general of the Parliamentary forces in the north, and his son, Sir Thomas, was made lieutenant-general of the horse under him. Both father and son distinguished themselves in the campaigns in Yorkshire.


Sometimes severely defeated, more often successful, and always energetic, prudent and resourceful, they contrived to keep up the struggle until the crisis of 1644, when York was held by the Marquess of Newcastle against the combined forces of the English Parliamentarians and the Scots, and Prince Rupert hastened with all available forces to its relief. A gathering of eager national forces within a few square miles of ground naturally led to a battle, and Marston Moor (2 July 1644) proved decisive for the struggle in the north. The younger Fairfax bore himself with the greatest gallantry in the battle, and though severely wounded managed to join Oliver Cromwell and the victorious cavalry on the other wing. One of his brothers, Colonel Charles Fairfax, was killed in the action. But the Marquess of Newcastle fled the kingdom, and the Royalists abandoned all hope of retrieving their affairs. The city of York was taken, and nearly the whole north submitted to the Parliament.


In the south and west of England , however, the Royalist cause was still strong. The war had lasted two years, and the nation began to complain of the contributions that were exacted, and the excesses that were committed by the military. Dissatisfaction was expressed with the military commanders, and, as a preliminary step to reform, the Self-denying Ordinance was passed. This involved the removal of the Earl of Essex from the supreme command, along with other Members of Parliament. This was followed by the New Model Ordinance, which replaced the locally raised Parliamentary regiments with a unified army. Sir Thomas Fairfax was selected as the new lord general with Cromwell as his lieutenant-general and cavalry commander. After a short preliminary campaign the "New Model" justified its existence, and "the rebels' new brutish general", as the king called him, proved his capacity as commander-in-chief in the decisive victory of Naseby (14 June 1645). The king fled to Wales. Fairfax besieged Leicester, and was successful at Taunton, Bridgwater and Bristol. The whole west was soon reduced.


Fairfax arrived in London on November 12, 1645. In his progress towards the capital he was accompanied by applauding crowds. Complimentary speeches and thanks were presented to him by both houses of parliament, along with a jewel of great value set with diamonds, and a sum of money. The king had returned from Wales and established himself at Oxford, where there was a strong garrison, but, ever vacillating, he withdrew secretly, and proceeded to Newark to throw himself into the arms of the Scots. Oxford capitulated, and by the end of September 1646 Charles had neither army nor garrison in England , following the surrender of Thomas Blagge at Wallingford Castle after a siege conducted by Fairfax . In January 1647 he was delivered up by the Scots to the commissioners of parliament. Fairfax met the king beyond Nottingham, and accompanied him during the journey to Holdenby, treating him with the utmost consideration in every way. "The general", said Charles, "is a man of honour, and keeps his word which he had pledged to me."


With the collapse of the Royalist cause came a confused period of negotiations between the Parliament and the king, between the king and the Scots, and between the Presbyterians and the Independents in and out of Parliament. In these negotiations the New Model Army soon began to take a most active part. The lord general was placed in the unpleasant position of intermediary between his own officers and Parliament. To the grievances, usual in armies of that time, concerning arrears of pay and indemnity for acts committed on duty, there was quickly added the political propaganda of the Independents, and in July the person of the king was seized by Joyce, a subaltern of cavalry — an act which sufficiently demonstrated the hopelessness of controlling the army by its articles of war. It had, in fact, become the most formidable political party in the realm, and pressed straight on to the overthrow of Parliament and the punishment of Charles.


Fairfax was more at home in the field than at the head of a political committee, and, finding events too strong for him, he sought to resign his commission as commander-in-chief. He was, however, persuaded to retain it. He thus remained the titular chief of the army party, and with the greater part of its objects he was in complete, sometimes most active, sympathy. Shortly before the outbreak of the second Civil War, Fairfax succeeded his father in the barony and in the office of governor of Hull. In the field against the English Royalists in 1648 he displayed his former energy and skill, and his operations culminated in the successful siege of Colchester, after the surrender of which place he approved the execution of the Royalist leaders' Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, holding that these officers had broken their parole. At the same time Cromwell's great victory of Preston crushed the Scots, and the Independents became practically all-powerful.


John Milton, in a sonnet written during the siege of Colchester, called upon the lord general to settle the kingdom, but the crisis was now at hand. Fairfax was in agreement with Cromwell and the army leaders in demanding the punishment of Charles, and he was still the effective head of the army. He approved, if he did not take an active part in, Pride's Purge (December 6, 1648), but on the last and gravest of the questions at issue he set himself in deliberate and open opposition to the policy of the officers. He was placed at the head of the judges who were to try the king, and attended the preliminary sitting of the court. Then, convinced at last that the king's death was intended, he refused to act. In calling over the court, when the crier pronounced the name of Fairfax, a lady in the gallery called out that the Lord Fairfax was not there in person, that he would never sit among them, and that they did him wrong to name him as a commissioner. This was Lady Fairfax, who could not forbear, as Bulstrode Whitelocke says, to exclaim aloud against the proceedings of the High Court of Justice.


His last service as commander-in-chief was the suppression of the Leveller mutiny at Burford in May 1649. He had given his adhesion to the new order of things, and had been reappointed lord general. But he merely administered the affairs of the army, and when in 1650 the Scots had declared for Charles II, and the council of state resolved to send an army to Scotland in order to prevent an invasion of England, Fairfax resigned his commission. Cromwell was appointed his successor, "captain-general and commander-in-chief of all the forces raised or to be raised at authority of Parliament within the Commonwealth of England ."


After the fighting


Fairfax received a pension of £5000 a year, and lived in retirement at his Yorkshire home of Nunappleton till after the death of the Protector. The troubles of the later Commonwealth recalled Lord Fairfax to political activity, and for the last time his appearance in arms helped to shape the future of the country, when George Monck invited him to assist in the operations about to be undertaken against John Lambert's army. In December 1659 he appeared at the head of a body of Yorkshire gentlemen, and such was the influence of Fairfax 's name and reputation that 1200 horse quitted Lambert's colours and joined him. This was speedily followed by the breaking up of all Lambert's forces, and that day secured the restoration of the monarchy. A "free" Parliament was called; Fairfax was elected member for Yorkshire, and was put at the head of the commission appointed by the House of Commons to wait upon Charles II, at the Hague and urge his speedy return. Of course the "merry monarch, scandalous and poor", was glad to obey the summons, and Fairfax provided the horse on which Charles rode at his coronation.


The remaining 11 years of the life of Lord Fairfax were spent in retirement at his seat in Yorkshire . He must, like Milton, have been sorely grieved and shocked by the scenes that followed -the brutal indignities offered to the remains of his companions in arms, Cromwell and Ireton, the sacrifice of Henry Vane the Younger, and the factious splintering that undermined the effectiveness of Caroline Parliament. Fairfax died at Nunappleton, and was buried at Bilbrough, near York .


As a soldier he was exact and methodical in planning, in the heat of battle "so highly transported that scarce any one durst speak a word to him" (Whitelocke), chivalrous and punctilious in his dealings with his own men and the enemy. Honour and conscientiousness were equally the characteristics of his private and public character. But his modesty and distrust of his powers made him less effectual as a statesman than as a soldier, and above all he is placed at a disadvantage by being both in war and peace overshadowed by his associate Cromwell.


Fairfax had a taste for literature. He translated some of the Psalms, and wrote poems on solitude, the Christian warfare, the shortness of life, etc. During the last year or two of his life he wrote two Memorials which have been published -one on the northern actions in which he was engaged in 1642-1644, and the other on some events in his tenure of the chief command. At York and at Oxford he endeavoured to save the libraries from pillage, and he enriched the Bodleian with some valuable manuscripts.


Lord Fairfax of Cameron's only daughter, Mary Fairfax, was married to George Villiers, the profligate duke of Buckingham of Charles II's court.


The Fairfax cup presented at the York International 9s rugby league festival is named after Thomas Fairfax.