At the death of his childless uncle George William Fairfax, a former member of the governor's Council, in 1787, Fairfax inherited property in England and thousands of acres of land in Virginia, including the family seat at Belvoir, in Fairfax County. When he composed his will in 1799, he was rich enough to specify $41,500 in individual bequests to family members and friends. On February 18, 1796, Fairfax married his first cousin Elizabeth Blair Cary, daughter of Wilson-Miles Cary, a member of the Convention of 1776. They lived at Shannon Hill, an estate in the part of Berkeley County that in 1801 became Jefferson County, until about 1810, then in Alexandria, and later at Mount Eagle, in Fairfax County. In twenty-four years they had at least nine sons and six daughters, of whom at least three sons and one daughter died in infancy or childhood.
Ferdinando Fairfax died at Mount Eagle, in Fairfax County, late on the night of September 24, 1820, or very early the next morning. His will directed that he be buried simply near the place of his death and that eulogies be omitted. According to tradition, he was initially interred in a family plot at Ash Grove, his brother's estate in Fairfax County, but conflicting accounts suggest that his body was later moved. One of the Washington newspapers, no doubt not knowing of his aversion to memorials, published a short but flattering obituary characterizing him as "a polite and an accomplished gentleman, possessing every kind of knowledge except that of worldly:—he was sober, frugal, and industrious, yet more money escaped from him than from any other man."
May 31, 1769 - Ferdinando Fairfax is baptized in Fairfax County. His godparents are George Washington and Martha Custis Washington.
1787 - Ferdinando Fairfax inherits property in England and Virginia, including the family seat at Belvoir, in Fairfax County.
1788 - Ferdinando Fairfax travels to Philadelphia and through his godfather George Washington is introduced into society.
December 1, 1790 - Ferdinando Fairfax publishes "Plan for liberating the negroes within the united states" in the Philadelphia journal American Museum, or, Universal Magazine.
1792 - Ferdinando Fairfax joins the Freemasons in Alexandria.
1795 - Ferdinando Fairfax becomes a trustee of the Charles Town Academy.
February 18, 1796 - First cousins Ferdinando Fairfax and Elizabeth Blair Cary, marry. They will have at least fifteen children.
December 1799 - Ferdinando Fairfax is a principal mourner at the funeral of George Washington.
1801 - Ferdinando Fairfax serves as a justice of the peace of the newly created Jefferson County.
1806 - Ferdinando Fairfax helps build a market house in Charles Town.
1807 - Ferdinando Fairfax attempts to found a weekly newspaper in Charles Town but relinquishes the project to another man.
1808 - Ferdinando Fairfax publishes a seventy-three-page pamphlet of a Fourth of July oration he gave in Charles Town in 1805.
September 24, 1820 - Ferdinando Fairfax dies at Mount Eagle, in Fairfax County.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Thompson, M. V., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Ferdinando Fairfax (1769–1820). (2019, April 16). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Fairfax_Ferdinando_1769-1820.
- MLA Citation:
Thompson, Mary V. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Ferdinando Fairfax (1769–1820)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 16 Apr. 2019. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: April 4, 2019 | Last modified: April 16, 2019