This short biographical note, by J.G.Cumming, is extracted from
Manx Soc vol
X where it forms note 1
Thomas, Lord Fairfax, the eldest son of Ferdinando, Lord Fairfax, was born at Denton, in 1601. He was educated at St. John's College Cambridge, and subsequently served as a volunteer in Holland, under Horatio, Lord Vere, of Tilbury, in Essex, whose daughter Anne, he at a later period married. He was present at the taking of Bois le Duc. On returning to England, he retired into private life. The Civil War recalled him to military enterprise on the Parliamentary side, and he was made General of the Horse, under his father. In this capacity he met with varying fortune in the North of England, which the battle of Marston Moor, in 1644, ultimately determined in his favor. In all instances his valour, enterprise, and zeal, were so conspicuous, that on the resignation of the Earl of Essex, in 1645, he was appointed to succeed him as General of the Army, which had been remodelled and recruited. His commission did not run like that of Essex, in the name of the King and Parliament; but in that of the Parliament alone: and the article concerning the King's safety was omitted. A medal of Sir Thomas Fairfax bears on the obverse his bust regarding the left, with the encircling legend "Gener: Tho: Fairfax: Miles: Milit: Parli: Dux." The battle of Naseby, in 1646, proved him in every way worthy of the trust reposed in him. Whilst, however, the whole military authority was in appearance devolved on Lord Fairfax, it was, through the machinations of the Independents, really exercised by Cromwell. Fairfax was in truth too good and honest a man for the party to which he was attached. His moderation in the hour of triumph was remarkable; and on the surrender of Oxford, he was particularly careful to preserve the Bodleian Library and other places, from pillage; and it has been said that through his influence, the University suffered less from the Parliamentary troops, than it had done from those of the Royalists.
Subsequently he caused the Royalists to raise the siege of Taunton, and then beat them from Lamport, took successively Bridgewater and Sherborne, and laid siege to Bristol, which surrendered to him September the 10th, 1645. This was the ruin of the King's case, for it led to his retirement to Oxford for the winter, and in the beginning of the next year, on Lord Fairfax approaching with a powerful army, to his flight to the Scottish forges at Newark. The capture of Raglan Castle, in 1646, made Fairfax master of the situation. The venality of the Scotch in their surrender of the King to the Parliament, for the sum of £400,000, Jan. 30th, 1647 ,is well known.
The greatest stain on the Character of this great man, was the execution of Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, on the surrender of Colchester, after an eleven weeks siege, in 1648; and his treacherous explanation of the terms granted to Lord Capel, which brought that nobleman to the block.
Fairfax behaved with the greatest respect towards his Sovereign in his humiliation; and even seemed desirous of restoring him to the throne. His partiality was in fact so far suspected, that though nominated for one of the Judges on the King's pretended trial (in which office, however, he refused to serve), on the day of Charles's execution, it was deemed necessary to engage Fairfax in prayer and conference, at Major Harrison's, till the fatal blow had been struck, lest he should interfere to prevent the carrying out the sentence of death.
It is said that he was much influenced in his conduct towards the King by his wife, whose feelings were so strong, that when the indictment against Charles wa sread, and the Clerk came to the words " all the good people of England," she exclaimed aloud in court, " no, not the hundredth part of them." It was also thought necessary to appease the resentment of Fairfax, consequent on the execution of Charles, by appointing him Generalissimo of the forces employed in England and Ireland; and under this commission he suppressed the Levellers, who were becoming formidable in Oxfordshire.
In 1650, the Scotch declared for Charles the Second; and when it
was determined to make war against them, Fairfax was looked to for
its conduct, but he yielded to his wife's interposition, and chose
rather to throw up his appointment and retire in to private life,
with a pension of £5,000 per annum. He had succeeded his father,
in March, 1648, in his titles; and thus united the hereditary dignity
of the Peerage with the honor which he had acquired by his bravery.
After the political murder of James, the Seventh Earl of Derby, who
was beheaded at Bolton, on the16th of October, 1651, the Parliament
granted to Lord Fairfax, in addition to his other estates, The
Seignory of the Isle of Man, " in public gratitude for his high
deserts, and not as the issue of his own desires."
His noble feeling and devotion to literature and religion were here also conspicuous; for he set apart the proceeds of the sequestered Bishopric, to the increase of the incomes of the inferior Clergy, and the establishment of Grammar Schools, in the four towns of the Isle of Man - Castletown, Douglas, Peel, and Ramsey.
At the eve of the Restoration, he determined to make peace with the exiled King. He induced Lambeth's Irish troops to join Monk's army, and was at the head of the Commissioners appointed to wait upon Charles the Second, at the Hague, to invite him to return to England, and assume the crown. He was well received; and having performed the commission entrusted to him, retired into the country, where he composed his " Memorials of the War "; and died on the 12th November, 1671, in the seventieth year of his age. He held the Lordship of the Isle of Man eight years.
He had, by his wife Anne, one only daughter, born in 1636, and married to George Villiers, Second Duke of Buckingham, and who died in 1704. He was succeeded by his cousin Henry (grandson of the First Lord Fairfax), as Fourth Baron. Henry died in 1693, aged 86, without issue. Then his estates devolved to his sister's son, Philip Martin (who took the name of Fairfax), a Lieutenant-General in the army. Bryan, Eighth Baron in direct descent, heir of the last Lord, and whose father had acquired property in Virginia, came to England from America, in 1793, and laid claim to the Peerage, which was allowed by the House of Lords, in 1800; and in1808, the House of Commons voted him £20,000 in compensation for his losses in Virginia. He, however, returned to America, and married a Miss Elizabeth Cary, by whom he had several children. It is said that he entered Holy Orders, and became a D.D., in the United States.
Lord Fairfax was, to judge from his portraits, of a manly aspect, but of a gloomy disposition. In his manners he was gentle and courteous; liberal in his principles, but sincere, open, and disinterested; and though possessed of only moderate talents he was, from what we have seen in his conduct both at Oxford and in connection with the Isle of Man, a lover of literature, and a great patron of learning. The Manx were peculiarly fortunate in obtaining from amongst the Parliamentarians such a successor in the Lordship of the Isle to that great and good man, the unfortunate James, the Seventh Earl of Derby. The portrait of Lord Fairfax, given in this edition, is not in the original work of Chaloner.