Monday, August 8, 2016

Belvoir, Home of Colonel William Fairfax, 1741

So, our next stop, after exploring the ruins of Leesylvania was to find the home of George Washington's friend and neighbor, Colonel William Fairfax.

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We were standing on the Northern Neck Land Grant...5 million acres between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers that the King of England granted as a proprietorship to seven loyal supporters, including Lord Culpeper in 1649. Culpeper is noteworthy for having served as governor of Virginia. A town in Virginia, that I often visit, was named after him. Culpeper's daughter married Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax. Their son, Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax ultimately inherited the entire land grant from his mother and grandmother Still living in England, Lord Fairfax had the infamous Virginian, Robert "King" Carter manage his land. Upon Carter's death in 1732, Fairfax needed a new land agent. Learning of the great wealth Carter had achieved, Lord Fairfax had his cousin, William Fairfax reassigned from Salem, Massachusetts to Virginia. William Fairfax and Augustine Washington (father to George Washington) explored the vast amount of land for a suitable location for a homes for their families.

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Fairfax chose this land and named it Belvoir, which means "beautiful to see" in French. Washington chose a spot 4 miles up river that later came to be known as Mount Vernon. A beautiful Georgian estate was built here by 1741 where Fairfax's family lived until 1773.

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In the early years Lawrence Washington (George's older brother) family lived at Mount Vernon. William Fairfax's daughter, Ann, married Lawrence.

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Young George was a frequent visitor to Belvoir, often fox hunting with Colonel Fairfax, and later learning to survey from him.

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In 1757, George William Fairfax inherited the land when his father died. Two years later George Washington married Martha and they moved in to Mount Vernon. The Fairfaxes and Washingtons continued to spend  much time with each other.

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In 1773, the Fairfax's left for England due to a "complex inheritance suit." Washington was given power of attorney to "oversee their interests in Virginia." 

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The Fairfaxes never returned to Virginia...

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Up river was Mount Vernon and later Washington DC...

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Down river was Gunston Hall and Leesylvania...

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Resources

http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Carter_Robert_ca_1664-1732

http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Culpeper_Thomas_second_baron_Culpeper_of_Thoresway_1635-1689

http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/fairfax-family/

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