FAIRFAX, Hon. Henry (1659-1708), of Toulston Hall, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. - 21 Dec. 1696

Family and Education

b. 20 Apr. 1659, 2nd s. of Henry Fairfax†, 4th Ld. Fairfax of Cameron [S], by Frances, da. and h. of Sir Robert Barwick of Toulston Hall; bro. of Thomas, 5th Ld. Fairfax*.  educ. G. Inn 1678.  m. 27 Sept. 1684, Anne, da. and coh. of Richard Harrison of South Cave, Yorks., 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 2da.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Yorks. 1691.2


Under a settlement made in 1685, Fairfax was given his maternal grandfather’s estates at Toulston. He remained close to his elder brother Thomas, taking an active interest in his election campaign in 1690 for Yorkshire. Henry himself sat in Parliament for only a very short period, being returned in a contested by-election at Aldborough in September 1696. Although at first he had feared that Sir George Cooke, 3rd Bt.*, would stand against him, in the end the other candidate was Arthur Kaye, later 3rd Bt.*, son of Sir John, 2nd Bt., who was a knight of the shire along with Fairfax’s brother. Fairfax was returned, but on 27 Nov. two petitions, one from the inhabitants of Aldborough and one from Kaye, were read in the Commons. Both petitions protested that Fairfax had ‘spent great sums of money in treating the electors’, contrary to the Act against bribery at elections. The merits of the case were considered on 21 Dec., and it was resolved that Fairfax was ‘disabled and incapacitated’ from serving for Aldborough. The election was declared void, though a new writ was not issued until a year later. Although Fairfax initially considered standing again, he did not contest the new by-election. In the short time he spent in Parliament, he did not appear to be active, and was not recorded as having voted on the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†.3

In March 1699 it was reported that Fairfax hoped for a receiver’s place, though he was not appointed to any such office. In November 1704 he sent a memorandum to the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), urging that his position in Yorkshire and ‘his connexions with the best families of that and adjacent counties’ qualified him to raise a regiment for the Queen’s service and to command it, but the application failed. He did not stand for Parliament again, and died in 1708. He appears to have died intestate, as in September 1711 his estate at Toulston was granted to a creditor, Edward Marshall, of Tadcaster, Yorkshire. Of Fairfax’s children, his second son, William, was the best known, having moved to Virginia, where he became the friend and adviser of George Washington, to whom he was related through his aunt.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Her. and Gen. vi. 405; Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, ii. 191–2.
  • 2. Her. and Gen. 604.
  • 3. E. D. Neill, Fairfaxes of Eng. and America, 31, 41–42, 60; Stowe 747, ff. 30, 43, 60, 68; Add. 17677 RR, f. 149; N. Yorks. RO, Worsley mss ZON 13/1/32, Fairfax to Worsley, 11 Feb. 1689[–90]; N. Yorks. RO, Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, Sir William Hustler* to Sir Abstrupus Danby*, 21 Jan. 1697.
  • 4. Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, Edward Morris to Danby, 7 Mar. 1698–9; HMC Portland, viii. 162; Clay, 192; Borthwick Inst. York, wills, prerog. ct. Sept. 1711.