Director of Library Programs
About the Book
This book tells how the ancient and noble Fairfax family of Yorkshire, famed for the actions of Sir Thomas Fairfax during the English Civil War, came to settle on a vast swathe of Virginia before the American Revolution. For over six generations they played an active part in many of the key events that helped shape America until, strangely, they forsook the New World and returned to the Old. They were unique as the only members of the British House of Lords – the Peerage – to be permanently resident in America.
The story opens with the extraordinary inheritance of over five million acres of wild frontier, the Northern Neck of Virginia and how the bachelor 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron settles there in the 1740’s, far from his birthplace of Leeds Castle in Kent. Here he administers his vast empire from a remote log cabin in the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by the bear, the wolf and the coyote, not to mention hostile Native Americans, with the help of the young George Washington, whom he educates and sets on his path to glory.
We hear of the close friendship between Washington and various other members of the Fairfax family: George William Fairfax of Belvoir and his beautiful wife Sally Cary Fairfax, to whom the future First President forms a passionate and lasting attachment. Rev. Bryan Fairfax, 8th Lord, a regular correspondent of Washington and friend until the end. Thanks to their friendship with Washington, the family are spared expulsion during the Revolution and take their place as citizens of the newly formed United States of America.
Finally we come to the author’s grandfather, Albert 12th Lord, born in the Civil War’s melancholy aftermath. Times are hard and after only three years of schooling he goes to work as a lowly bank clerk in New York. Albert has a vision to restore the family’s fame and fortune, and through his energy and initiative, he slowly begins the task. Posted to London, he becomes a British citizen and successfully reclaims his place in the House of Lords. Albert prospers in London and eventually founds his own bank in the City of London, Fairfax & Co. He marries late and has two sons, the eldest being the author’s father. It is said the story of Little Lord Fauntleroy is based around his early life.
The story comes full circle with the family once more fully re-established in England and the disposal of the last remaining American property in 1960.
About the Author
Hugh Fairfax was born in London and grew up in Berkshire and the Isle of Wight, where he developed a love of the sea and all things nautical. After Eton College he attended art school in Cambridge and today is a well-known marine artist who exhibits regularly both at home and abroad. A keen student of history, he has long been fascinated by his near-forgotten American ancestry. Hugh lives in London with his wife Victoria, an accomplished interior designer who most notably was closely involved in the restoration of Skibo Castle, Andrew Carnegie's magnificent retreat in the Highlands of Scotland. They have three children, Alexander and Laura who live in London and Marina who lives in New York.