Fairfax, Nathaniel (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 18
Fairfax, Nathaniel

by Gordon Goodwin
Contains subarticle Blackerby Fairfax (fl. 1728).

FAIRFAX, NATHANIEL, M.D. (1637–1690), divine and physician, was born 24 July 1637, the third and youngest son of Benjamin Fairfax, the ejected incumbent of Rumburgh, Suffolk, by his wife Sarah, daughter of Roger and Joane Galliard. The family claimed kindred with the Fairfaxes of Yorkshire. Nathaniel was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, as a member of which he proceeded M.A. in 1661 (Cantabr. Graduati, 1787, p. 135). During the Commonwealth he was presented to the perpetual curacy of Willisham, Suffolk, whence he was ejected in 1662 for refusing to conform. He then turned his attention to physic as a means of livelihood, took the degree of M.D. at Leyden in 1670 (Leyden Students, Index Soc. p. 34), on which occasion he published his inaugural dissertation ‘De Lumbricis,’ 4to, Leyden, 1670, and practised at Woodbridge, Suffolk. There he wrote ‘A Treatise of the Bulk and Selvedge of the World. Wherein the Greatness, Littleness, and Lastingness of Bodies are freely handled. With an Answer to Tentamina de Deo, by S[amuel] P[arker], D.D.,’ 8vo, London, 1674, which is curious for the affected exclusion of all words borrowed from the learned languages. Although he was never a fellow, Fairfax contributed some papers to the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ of the Royal Society, among them one giving ‘instances of peculiarities of nature both in men and brutes’ (ii. 549). He died 12 June 1690, and was buried at Woodbridge. He was twice married. By his first wife, Elizabeth Blackerby, he had four sons and four daughters, of whom one son, Blackerby, and three daughters only survived him.

Blackerby Fairfax (fl. 1728) was a member of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he took the two degrees in arts, B.A. 1689, M.A. 1693, and was created M.D. ‘comitiis regiis’ in 1728 (Cantabr. Graduati, 1787, p. 135). After leaving Cambridge he studied medicine at the university of Leyden, of which he was admitted M.D. on 18 April 1696 (Leyden Students, Index Soc. p. 34). He was appointed a physician in the navy, but had retired by 1717. He wrote: 1. ‘A Discourse upon the Uniting Scotland with England: containing the general advantage of such an Union to both Kingdoms,’ &c. (anon.), 8vo, London, 1702. 2. ‘In Laudem Botanices Oratio … On the Praise of Botany, a speech, &c. … To which is added a præfatory discourse for establishing a lecture on botany,’ Latin and English, 4to, London, 1717. 3. ‘Oratio Apologetica pro Re Herbaria contra Medicos Mathematicos. … A Speech … wherein is given the idea of vegetation and a plea for the use of botany in physick against the neglect of it in favour of mathematicks,’ Latin and English, 4to, London, 1718. He also published ‘A Treatise of the Just Interest of the Kings of England, in their free disposing power,’ &c., 12mo, London, 1703, a tract attributed to Sir Matthew Hale, to which he added ‘a prefatory discourse in answer to a discourse on grants and resumptions,’ and ‘The Letter which Pope Gregory XV wrote to Charles I of England concerning his marriage to the Infanta of Spain, and that Prince's Answer,’ which drew forth some ‘Observations’ from William Matthews, 4to, Ipswich, 1729.

[Browne's Hist. of Congregationalism in Norfolk and Suffolk, p. 494 n.; Calamy's Nonconf. Mem. ed. Palmer, 1802, iii. 285, 295.]

G. G.