FAIRFAX, Henry, 4th Lord Fairfax of Cameron [S] (1631-88), of Denton, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. 10 Dec. 1631, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Fairfax of Oglethorpe, rector of Bolton Percy 1646-62, by Mary, da. of Sir Henry Cholmley of Whitby. educ. G. Inn, entered 1641. m. by 1657, Frances (d. 14 Feb. 1684), da. of Sir Robert Barwick of Toulson Hall, Thorp Arch, and h. to her bro. Robert, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da. suc. fa. 1665, cos. Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax 12 Nov. 1671.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1657, Jan. 1660, 1673-80, (E. Riding) 1679-80, militia, York 1659, Yorks. and York Mar. 1660; dep. lt. (W. Riding) 1673-d., j.p. 1675-d.; commr. for recusants, Yorks. 1675; col. of militia ft. (W. Riding) by 1678-d.2


Fairfax took part under his cousin’s leadership in the Yorkshire rising in support of George Monck in January 1660. His father resigned his living under the Act of Uniformity, and he was himself regarded as leader of the East Riding Presbyterians, though he gave information which helped to suppress the Derwentdale conspiracy. Most of the family estate went to the Duke of Buckingham on his cousin’s death in 1671, but he succeeded to Denton and three other manors. He was regarded as leader of the West Riding justices who obstructed the collection of the hearth-tax. On the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament he was at first reluctant to stand, but he eventually joined interests with the Anglican Lord Clifford (Charles Boyle) and was returned for Yorkshire to all three Exclusion Parliaments as a country Member. On his arrival in London in March 1679 he reported to his wife that it was the general opinion that ‘your friend, our lord treasurer [Danby], does not stay the storm that is coming upon him’, adding that he had waited on the King, ‘who was pleased to ask me how I did, and told me he was glad to see me’. Classed as ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury, he was moderately active in the first Exclusion Parliament, with six committees. These included the committees to reform the collection of hearth-tax, to prolong the ban on cattle imports, and to encourage the cloth industry by requiring wool to be worn during the winter months. He voted for exclusion. Supported by ‘sectaries and fanatics’, he was re-elected unopposed. Walking in St. James’s Park on the eve of the next Parliament, the Duke of York

took him by the hand and said to him: ‘Well, my Lord, I see you are all come up to do what you can against me’. ‘I am the more sorry for the occasion’, replied that Lord, ‘but we are all resolved to assert the properties of our nation and the Protestant religion’, and His Royal Highness replied again, ‘I will give you all the assurance you can ask that I will not disturb your property’.

In the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, he was appointed only to the committee of elections and privileges, and he did not stand in 1685. He died on 9 Apr. 1688 and was buried at Denton. At the funeral, according to his friend Thoresby, the nonconformist antiquary, ‘there was the greatest appearance of the nobility and gentry that I have ever seen. The poor wept abundantly, a good evidence of his charity’.3


Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Her. and Gen. vi. 399, 405; C. Markham, Fairfax, 389.
  • 2. Yale Univ. Lib. Osborn mss.
  • 3. Parl. Rep. Yorks. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xcvi), 92-93; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 563; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 393; Reresby Mems. 48, 286-7, 190, 581; Fairfax Corresp. ed. Bell, ii. 163, 233; EHR, li. 643; Markham, 395; HMC Astley, 38-40; Verney Mems. ii. 333.