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Ferdinando Fairfax, a Jefferson County planter, was born in Virginia in 1774. He would have been second in line to become Lord Fairfax, if his father, Bryan Fairfax, had not declined the title in 1789 to become a minister in the Episcopal Church. Bryan was a cousin of the bachelor Lord Thomas Fairfax whose family had received vast lands in Virginia and present West Virginia from King Charles II in the 17th century. Ferdinando’s godparents were George and Martha Washington.

Ferdinando Fairfax was wealthy and influential, even without the title or estate. In 1795, he became a founding trustee of the Charles Town Academy, which survived until 1905. Fairfax was one of the first 14 justices of the peace when Jefferson County was created from part of Berkeley County in 1801. He owned more slaves than anyone else in the county, paying taxes on 62. He purchased from George Hite a tract of land on Liberty Street in Charles Town and established an inn. His plantation, Shannon Hill, near Kabletown, was sold by his daughter in 1825 to G. W. Hammond, who demolished the original house and built the present dwelling in 1840. Ferdinando Fairfax died September 26, 1820, in Jefferson County.

This Article was written by Barbara Rasmussen

Last Revised on November 27, 2023


Cartmell, T. K. Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and their Descendants: A History of Frederick County. Berryville, VA: Chesapeake Book Co., 1963.

Jefferson County Historical Society. Between the Shenandoah and the Potomac: Historic Homes of Jefferson County. Winchester, VA: Winchester Printers, 1990.

Washington, John A. Jefferson County Personal Property Tax List, 1800. Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, (Dec. 1967).

Cite This Article

Rasmussen, Barbara "Ferdinando Fairfax." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 27 November 2023. Web. 22 July 2024.


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