Fairborne, Stafford (DNB00)

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FAIRBORNE, Sir STAFFORD (d. 1742), admiral of the fleet, was the eldest son of Sir Palmes Fairborne [q. v.], governor of Tangiers. In June 1685 Stafford was lieutenant of the Bonadventure at Tangiers, and during the illness of his captain commanded the ship in a successful encounter with some Sallee vessels at Mamora (Charnock, ii. 94 n.) On 12 July 1686 he was promoted to command the Half Moon, a Sallee prize, and in August 1688 was appointed to the Richmond, from which he was moved into the Fairfax, and, after the revolution, into the Warspite of 70 guns, which he commanded at the battle of Beachy Head, 30 June 1690. At the siege of Cork, in the September following, he served on shore under Marlborough, probably with a naval brigade; in 1692 he commanded the Elizabeth of 70 guns at the battle of Barfleur, and in 1693 the Monck of 52 guns in the fleet under Sir George Rooke [q. v.], which on 19 June, while in charge of the Smyrna convoy, was so disastrously scattered by the French off Cape St. Vincent (Burchett, Transactions at Sea, p. 486). In 1695 he commanded the Victory, a first-rate, and was moved out of her into the Defiance, a third-rate, on 3 Feb. 1695–6, ‘to command the outward-bound trade in the Downs.’ On 22 March he was moved back again to the Victory; in June into the London, also a first-rate; and shortly after into the Albemarle, a second-rate. These rapid changes illustrate the peculiar inconvenience of the system then in vogue of paying a captain according to the rate of the ship he commanded. Fairborne was assured at the time that, as they were made for the advantage of the service, they should not be any prejudice to him; but three years later he was still petitioning the admiralty for compensation for the loss he had sustained, amounting in pay alone to nearly 200l. (Captains' Letters, 12 July 1698, 6 June 1699). In May 1699 he was appointed to the Torbay, but that ship being found not nearly ready, he was transferred to the Suffolk, which he commanded till the end of the year as senior officer in the Downs or at Spithead. In January 1700 he was appointed to the Til- bury, in which he went to Newfoundland in charge of convoy, and to clear the coast of pirates. Thence he went with convoy to Cadiz, and into the Mediterranean. By March 1701 he was back at Cadiz, and thence returned to England. In the following June he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the blue, and some little time later he was knighted.

In 1702 he was appointed, with his flag in the St. George, to a command in the fleet under Rooke, which failed in the attempt on Cadiz, and achieved the brilliant success at Vigo, on which occasion he moved into the Essex, a ship of lighter draught, but does not seem to have been personally engaged. He was afterwards left under Sir Clowdisley Shovell [q. v.] to bring the prizes home, a service which, in spite of exceptionally bad weather, was safely accomplished by 17 Nov. In the following year Fairborne was promoted to be vice-admiral of the red, and appointed to serve in the grand fleet during the short command of Admiral George Churchill [q. v.], after which, with his flag in the Association, he joined Shovell in the Mediterranean, and with him returned to England in November. From the Downs the squadron was ordered into the Thames, and on the evening of the 25th anchored for the night off the Gunfleet. There the great storm, which broke out the next day, found them. They were unable to weigh, but in the early morning of the 27th the Association was blown violently from her anchors, and, with the wind at W.S.W., was driven helplessly across the North Sea to the coast of Holland, whence, after many dangers and narrow escapes, she at last reached Gothenburg, and, after refitting, was able, not without great difficulty, to return to the Thames (Burchett, p. 656; Charnock, v. 148). In the following year Fairborne hoisted his flag on board the Shrewsbury, in the fleet under Shovell at Lisbon, and, on Shovell's going to the Mediterranean, remained in command of the ships in the Channel. In 1705 he accompanied Shovell to the Mediterranean, and was present at the siege and capture of Barcelona in September and October. In 1706 he was again employed on the home station, commanding the squadron sent off Rochelle in May, and at the reduction of Ostend in June (Lediard, Naval Hist. p. 810). He was M.P. for Rochester 1705–8. In June 1707 he was appointed a member of the council of the lord admiral, retiring in June 1708. Upon the death of Sir Clowdisley Shovell in October 1707 he was promoted to be admiral of the white, on 7 Jan. 1707–8, and on 21 Dec. 1708 to be admiral of the fleet; but he had no further employment at sea, though in 1713 he was appointed a commissioner for disbanding the marine regiments (Cal. State Papers, Treasury, 7 Aug. 1713). From this time he retired from the service, so completely that, in a navy list referred to by Charnock, he is said to have died in 1716. In lieu of half-pay a special pension of 600l. a year was settled on him (Bill Office Pension Book, No. 348, 23 Dec. 1714) from 1 Jan. 1714–15. He enjoyed it for many years, and died 11 Nov. 1742 (ib. No. 350).

In his petition already referred to (6 June 1699) he describes himself as having a large family. He also speaks (Cal. State Papers, Treasury, 3 Aug. 1703) of the younger children of Sir Palmes Fairborne. One of these, William Fairborne, served with him in the Victory as a lieutenant, and died, 5 Oct. 1708, in command of the Centurion at Leghorn (Charnock, iii. 246).

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. ii. 143; official letters and other documents in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.120
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
127 i 8f.e. Fairborne, Sir Stafford: before In June 1707 insert He was M.P. for Rochester 1705-8.
ii 13  before In the petition insert In 1708 he married Rebecca, daughter of Colonel Thomas Paston.