FAIRFAX, Sir Thomas (1521-1600), of Denton and Nun Appleton, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1521, and but 1st surv. s. of William Fairfax (d.1558) of Steeton by Isabel, da. of Thomas Thwaite of Denton and Askwith. m. Dorothy, da. of George Gale of York, wid. of John Rokeby of Sandal, 1s. Thomas I 3da. 2s. illegit. Kntd. 1579.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Yorks. 1571-2; j.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) from c.1569, (E. and N. Ridings) and Westmld. from c.1583; commr. to survey ports and castles, west marches 1580-1; member, council in the north from Nov. 1582; commr. musters, York 1585.1


Fairfax’s father increased the family properties by his marriage, and bought the commanding residence at Bilborough where Fairfax was born. From his mother he received Denton, Askwith, Acaster, Nun Appleton and Bishophill in York. He was recommended for inclusion on the council in the north in 1577 by the president, the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon. He was elected knight of the shire in 1586 and on 4 Nov. was a member of the committee to discuss a petition to the Queen about Mary Queen of Scots. He was summoned before the Privy Council in 1589, accused by the Countess of Cumberland of having too hastily given bail to persons committed for breaking into her husband’s property and stealing his deer. He was too ill to attend Lord Eure in October 1595 when he went to receive the rolls of his office as warden of the middle march, and was unable to be present at the disputed Yorkshire election in 1597, when he supported the unsuccessful candidates Stanhope and Hoby against Sir John Savile and his own cousin Sir William Fairfax of Gilling. Two years later he was described as being aged and weak ‘and cannot conveniently attend any business’.

He died at Denton 28 Jan. 1600 and was buried in the chapel there. Both his illegitimate sons were talented: Edward was a poet and translator of Tasso, and Charles, author of the Anelecta Fairfaxiana, was an antiquary, genealogist and lawyer. To Edward, Fairfax left a house called Newhall, lands in Otley and Fewston and £150, and to Charles he left Brocket Hall, lands in Bradisworth and Weeton and £100. Everything else went to his heir and sole executor Sir Thomas. Lord Burghley and the archbishop of York were appointed supervisors. The will was dated 13 Jan. 1600.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.


  • 1. Gooder, Parl. Rep. Yorks. ii. 32; Lansd. 13, f. 127; Egerton 2345, f. 73v; Border Pprs. i. 34-5; Reid, Council of the North, 495; Harl. 474.
  • 2. Markham, Life of Fairfax, 5; CSP For. 1561-2, p. 500; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 516; D’Ewes, 394; APC, xviii. 206-7; Border Pprs. ii. 59, 66; HMC Hatfield, vii. 416; ix. 241-2; York wills, 28, f. 46.