Fairfax, William (1609-1644) (DNB00)

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FAIRFAX, Sir WILLIAM (1609–1644), soldier, was the second son of Sir Philip Fairfax of Steeton and Frances Sheffield. In 1629 William Fairfax married Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Chaloner of Guisborough in Cleveland, and sister of James and Thomas Chaloner, the regicides [q. v.] He was knighted by Charles I at Whitehall on 1 June 1630 (Catalogue of the Dukes, Marquesses, Knights, &c., by T. W[alkley], 1634, p. 85). In 1636 he succeeded to the family estates at Steeton and Newton Kyme. In 1642 he took the side of the parliament, and signed the Yorkshire petition of 12 May 1642, beseeching the king to trust to parliament and dismiss his guards (Old Parliamentary History, x. 524). He was given the command of a regiment in the army of Essex, which was stationed on the left wing at Edgehill and ran away (ib. xi. 475). Fairfax then joined his uncle, Ferdinando, lord Fairfax [q. v.], in Yorkshire, and took part in the capture of Leeds (23 Jan. 1643) and Wakefield (21 May 1643). In a letter to his wife he says of himself and his cousin: ‘For Thomas's part and mine we rest neither night nor day nor will willingly till we have done God some good service against His and our enemies’ (Markham, Robert Fairfax, p. 14). In the victory at Nantwich (25 Jan. 1644) Sir William Fairfax commanded a wing of the horse, and at Marston Moor headed a brigade of foot on the right of the parliamentary line (Markham, Life of the Great Lord Fairfax, pp. 130, 169; Rushworth, v. 302). In August 1644 he was despatched into Lancashire with two thousand Yorkshire horse, and took part in the siege of Liverpool. In the relief of Montgomery Castle on 18 Sept. 1644 he was mortally wounded, and died the following day (Markham, Robert Fairfax, p. 23; Phillips, Civil War in Wales, ii. 201–9). Vicars, who gives a detailed account of the death of Fairfax, states that he had fifteen wounds, and adds that his widow said ‘that she grieved not that he died in this cause, but that he died so soon to do no more for it’ (Burning Bush, p. 34). Parliament voted 1,500l. for the widow and children, and on 7 Sept. 1655 the council of state voted them 2,000l. more in lieu of arrears of pay due to their father (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655, pp. 151, 324).

[Markham's Life of Admiral Robert Fairfax, 1885 (contains five letters by Sir William Fairfax); Fairfax Correspondence, ed. Johnson (1848) and Bell (1849).]

C. H. F.

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  
150 ii 2-1 f.e. Fairfax, Sir William G.: omit of a family .... the time of Ed-
151 i 1-5 for ward III .... in the horse guards, read born on 8 March 1738-9, was son of Joseph Fairfax (who after retirement from the horse guards settled at Bagshot, Surrey), and was grandson of Joseph Fairfax of Saxton, Yorkshire.