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George William Fairfax

George William Fairfax, the manager of lands once including most of the Eastern Panhandle and himself a major landowner in present Jefferson County, was born in the Bahamas in 1724. He was the oldest son of William Fairfax, who was the cousin and agent of Lord Thomas Fairfax. Educated in England, George returned to America in 1746, to succeed his father as agent for Lord Fairfax, the proprietor of the largest land patent in Virginia and present West Virginia. George William Fairfax was the close friend and a relative by marriage of George Washington.

George William Fairfax accompanied the 1746 survey party that established the Fairfax Line and placed the original Fairfax Stone at the corner of present Preston, Grant, and Tucker counties. By 1748, he was operating from Belvoir, his father William’s beloved estate on the lower Potomac, where Lord Fairfax had set up his proprietor’s office. George inherited Belvoir at his father’s death in 1757. He also owned Shannondale, 19,170 acres straddling the Blue Ridge south of Harpers Ferry in present Jefferson County, granted him by his father.

George William Fairfax worked intermittently as Lord Fairfax’s agent until 1773, when he and his wife, Sarah, left permanently for England due to ill health. He died there April 3, 1787.

Written by Peter Silitch


  1. Brown, Stuart E. Jr. Virginia Baron. Berryville, VA: Chesapeake Book Co., 1965.