"Fairfax" and "Culpeper" are names closely linked in the formation of Virginia, though the counties today are not adjacent to each other. The civil war in England in the mid-1600's led to King Charles I having his head chopped off and his son fleeing to France. While in exile, and before the tables turned and he was crowned Charles II in 1660, the son rewarded his few allies (a grand total of seven) with grants of land in the Northern Neck of Virginia in September, 1649, although of he didn't ensure legal title until he regained the throne eleven years later. The Virginia colonial government resisted the grant because it reduced the control of the House of Burgesses over the land between the Rappahannock and the Potomac rivers. In 1675 Lord Culpeper became Governor of Virginia and brought together all the claims to the grant. When Lord Culpeper died, his daughter Katherine Culpeper inherited 5/6th of the "proprietorship." Her mother retained 1/6th ownership until her death. Katherine Culpeper married Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax, and their son Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, ultimately inherited it all in 1719. The Culpepers and Fairfaxes had been on opposite sides of the English Civil War, but the Restoration in 1660 had put that dispute behind them. (There are far more twists in the story. See The Fairfax Family in Fairfax County: A Brief History, by Kenton Kilmer and Donald Sweig for a straightforward explanation of the details.) Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, allowed Virginia agents (primarily Robert "King" Carter) to manage the proprietary until the early 1730's. Continued legislative threats to his legal rights, plus the death of Rober Carter, triggered Fairfax to get the Privy Council in London to order a final survey of the boundaries of his ownership. The 1688 patent had described the western boundary as the "first heads or springs" of the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, and Robert Carter had claimed in 1706 that this included all the area between the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers. Virginia claimed the Fairfax grant was limited to the area between the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac (Harpers Ferry today), and the falls of the Rappahannock (Fredericksburg today). For the 1736 survey, Governor Gooch of Virginia appointed three commissioners, Lord Fairfax appointed three - and then each side also appointed three surveyors. (Lord Fairfax had George Washington surveying his western lands starting in 1748, years later...) Not surprisingly, separate maps were created by the two sides after the survey, and it took eight years before officials in England decided finally in favor of Lord Fairfax. A year later, in 1746, a "back line" was surveyed between the headwaters of the Rapidan and the Potomac. The Fairfax Stone was set at the north end, and this time all the surveyors agreed on the boundary - which set aside over 5 million acres of Virginia for Lord Fairfax. Lord Fairfax had come to Virginia in 1735 to defend his claim to the land, returned to England in 1737 to negotiate with the Privy Council, and then returned again to Virginia in 1747. In 1742, while Lord Fairfax himself was in England, the colony carved out a new county from Prince William and named it after Lord Fairfax. Lord Fairfax was a life-long bachelor. After he returned to Virginia in 1747, he lived at his cousin William Fairfax's home, Belvoir (now the site of Fort Belvoir), before building a hunting lodge he titled grandly "Greenway Court" - far away from the settled Tidewater, west of the Blue Ridge. He added a stone house and settled there permanently in 1761, essentially on the frontier. Though his reasons will never be known for sure, there is some evidence that he was rejected by a woman he intended to marry before he came to Virginia in 1735. He stayed neutral during the Revolutionary War, and died in December, 1781 (after Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown). After 10 years of negotiating and lawsuits, the new Commonwealth of Virginia acquired title to the Fairfax lands that had not already been granted to anyone, and a real estate syndicate purchased Greenway Court and other properties clearly owned by heirs of Lord Fairfax.
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Last update:September 24, 2016 at 5:35:06 UTC