Chapter 9.2: The Later Fairfaxes (Lord Emleys)

Sir Thomas Fairfax, 1st Viscount Emley

Sir William was succeeded by his only son Thomas. He was married twice: first in 1594 to the eldest daughter of Sir Henry Constable, Catherine, by whom he had six sons and five daughters; and secondly in 1626-7 to Mary, daughter of Robert Ford and the widow of Sir William Bamburgh, Bart., of Howsham. Thomas was knighted in 1601 by James I on his way from Scotland.

Sir Thomas was one of the Council of the North in 1599 and 1602, and High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1627. In 1629 he paid £1300 for the Irish Viscountcy of Emley. Such titles were being sold by Charles I to raise money (however one of Sir Thomas’s friends said he only paid £900). Thus Sir Thomas became Viscount Fairfax of Emley in the County of Tipperary. In 1609 he was made Vice President of the Council of the North and in 1617 he supported Sir Thomas Wentworth as Lord President of the North. In 1601 he had been MP for Boroughbridge. In spite of all this Sir Thomas represented Hedon in Parliament from 1620-1622 and from 1624-1626.

Sir Thomas died on 23 December 1636 at Howsham. In Scrayingham church there is a memorial tablet to him and I presume he is buried there, although in his will he wished to be buried at Walton. He left to the poor of Walton and Gilling £10 each, his wife £100 and his best coach and four horses. His servant William Laskew is to feed at Gilling Castle all his life. His grandson William (son and heir apparent of his eldest son Thomas) to be tutored by Thomas Viscount Wentworth, his cousin, and Henry Fairfax his second son.

Five years after his succession Sir Thomas made an inventory of his possessions at Walton Hall, which he owned as well as Gilling. He left an estate worth some £2700 per annum. In the great chamber there was a substantial quantity of furniture including the following:

“A drawing table, a rowned table, a liery cupboard, and a little table, all having carpets of green cloth, a frame on which stands a paire of virgenalls, a chare with other chares and stooles in it, a paire of white and black checkered tables....two dornix (Tournai) window curtins and an iron rod for them, two formes, three irish stitched low stooles, two set work low stooles, and iron chimney, a clock, cushions.”

In his bedchamber were:

“A standing bedsteed with tester and head piece wrought with black velvet and yellow silk and five curtins of red cloth, a matt, a featherbed, a fine quilt, two paire of blankets, a boulster, two pilloes and a counter pointe. The white damask chare, a little red chare, an orpharion, five pictures a standing cubberd, a great chest, a cabinet...”

Later Lord Emleys

Lord Thomas Fairfax the first lord was succeeded by his son, also Thomas, who became the second Lord Fairfax. He was already forty years of age. He married Alathea, daughter of Philip Howard, Knight, of Naworth Castle in Cumberland. They had a family of seven children, five sons and two daughters. Of these the eldest son William became the third lord. William was born at Naworth Castle in 1620 and was just 21 years of age when he succeeded his father.

On August 23 1641 King Charles raised the Royal Standard at Nottingham and the Civil War began. Lord William, whose close relations were on the side of Parliament, was no doubt most cautious regarding his orientation, and the manner in which General Fairfax dealt with Helmsley Castle no doubt persuaded him to keep quiet. There are tales that Cromwell stayed at the castle and that soldiers sharpened their weapons on the church stonework, but there is no concrete evidence for such a visit.

William married Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Smith Esq. of Stutton in the county of Suffolk and had by her two sons and one daughter. He died in 1648 to be succeeded by his eldest son Thomas, the fourth lord. This Thomas was 28 when he succeeded, and died in 1650 with no direct heir. The Viscountcy therefore passed to Thomas’s uncle, his father’s brother Charles, the fifth lord. Charles was born in 1632, and married Abigail daughter of Sir John Yates of Buckland in Berkshire. They unfortunately had only one child, Alethea, who married Widdrington whose son was attainted for his share in the rising of 1715, sent to the Tower but finally pardoned. Lord Charles held the Gilling Estates for 61 years but took no part in public life. He died in 1711.

The sixth Viscount, according to Burke’s Extinct Peerages, was Nicholas the great-nephew of his predecessor Charles. He had an only sister, Mary, who was to become the second wife of her cousin the ninth and last Viscount. It is possible that this heir Nicholas never succeeded. His monument in the parish church of Walton states that he died in 1702 which was nine years before his uncle. In fact the sixth Viscount was another Charles, the only son of Nicholas junior and great-nephew of the Charles who had died in 1711.

To make things more complicated Charles was succeeded by his uncle Charles, who was a younger brother of Nicholas junior mentioned above. He was 50 when he came to inherit. He was a Catholic and was listed as a non-juror in 1715, holding land at Gilling and Ampleforth etc. valued at £759-1-0. This income was subject to some annuities, to Dame Mary Huggate £50, and to Mary Fairfax £40 until she was 18 years of age. This Mary became 18 in 1720 and married her cousin in 1721. Again the estates were only held by Charles for a short time as he died in 1719 aged 53, and unmarried.

The succession now passed to a cousin, William Fairfax Esq. of Lythe near Whitby, second son of the Hon. William Fairfax of Lythe. He had been the second son of Thomas the first Viscount Emley by Catherine, daughter of Sir Henry Constable. The Hon William married twice, the second wife being Mary, daughter of Marmaduke Cholmeley of Brandsby. By her he had two children, Charles and William. Charles, the elder, died without issue in 1713, and William the second son inherited the Gilling Estates in 1719, and held them for 20 years. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Gerard, and had two sons and one daughter: Charles, Richard and Alathea. It was to Alathea’s descendants that Gilling passed after the deaths of her brother Charles, the ninth and last Viscount and the Hon. Anne Fairfax, his daughter who died unmarried.

The alterations to the castle from a Tudor style to a more up-to-date one were a consequence of the more stable and tolerant attitude to Roman Catholics during the Georgian period, and it is no doubt the work of Viscount William. The designs may have been the brainchild of Sir John Vanbrugh who was working at the time on Duncombe Park, Newburgh and Beningbrough, but their execution was carried out by Wakefield of Huby. Gill in his Vallis Eboracensis attributes the northern wing to the last Lord Fairfax - number nine - who succeeded in 1739. Originally a great beech avenue enhanced the view from the west front and was part of Vanbrugh’s original design. Many if not all of these trees were cut down after the first sale of the estate in 1929. In the woods around the Fairfax Lakes and along the path known as Mrs Barnes’ Walk some of these magnificent trees still exist. These are part of an avenue leading to a temple at the end of Gilling Scar.

Lord William of Lythe came from a strong Roman Catholic family and area, which included such neighbouring villages as Egton Bridge, still with its Roman Catholic church, and Ugthorpe. Lord William employed and encouraged recruitment to the Roman Catholic faith amongst his tenantry. The Rev. Nicholas Gouge, Rector of Gilling, made a return of papists and suspected papists in his parish in 1735. Apart from Lord Fairfax, Mrs. Fairfax and Charles Fairfax there were no less than 23 accredited Roman Catholics. He complained that several children baptised by him in Gilling Church were being confirmed by a Roman Catholic Bishop of York and that some of his parishioners were being perverted to the popish religion. He also reported that there was a place in the village where mass was performed.

In 1722 there was a particular chaplain at Gilling Castle, Father Rokeby, who together with Lord Fairfax was protected by the Earl of Carlisle (who I believe was the Protestant side of the Howard family) who must have been tolerant to his Roman Catholic tenantry. However Father Rokeby left the country for a while and was excommunicated. Rokeby’s successor was Father Stourton who was made chaplain in 1741. Even when living in Whenby, Father Stourton was reported as being active in Gilling at that time; and that papists assembled in Gilling from many nearby places to celebrate mass there. It must have been difficult for all concerned in the village, especially for those who worked for the Fairfaxes and had to comply with the law of the land in attending the parish church.

Lord William died in 1738 and was succeeded by his elder son Charles Gregory, who became the ninth Viscount Emley, and Lord of the Manor of Walton, Gilling and Acaster Malbys. In 1719 he married the widow of William Constable, Viscount Dunbar. She died without issue in 1721, and he took as his second wife Mary, the daughter of Nicholas Fairfax of Walton and sister of Charles the sixth Viscount. Although they had sons and daughters, two sons died before 1736 and two others, Charles and Nicholas, died in 1740 (of the smallpox), and in July 1741 Lady Mary died leaving her husband without a male heir. Two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne, survived. In 1753 Elizabeth died leaving Anne alone to comfort him in his declining years. Between 1750 and 1753 Fairfax House in York was built by Charles Gregory, but he only lived in it for ten years.

Charles died in 1772 and Anne succeeded. She entrusted the running of the estate to Father Boulton her chaplain. However, a possible heir to the estate was Nathaniel Pigott. He was also a Roman Catholic. His mother had been Alathea Fairfax, only daughter of the eighth baron, Viscount William, and sister of the last Viscount. In 1775 Nathaniel Pigott came over from France and paid a visit to his cousin at Gilling, and undertook to manage her estates and took up residence in the castle. He was paid £250 per annum for his services. In a deed dated January 6th 1776 Anne left all her property to his second son Charles Gregory. Although this deed was appealed against successfully she still made Charles Gregory her heir. As she realised that a change of religion would prove detrimental to her chaplain Father Boulton, she bought a piece of land at Ampleforth 30 acres in extent, and built a house and chapel for him to live in. This was called Ampleforth Lodge and eventually developed into Ampleforth Abbey.

Nathaniel Pigott died in 1793 and Charles Gregory Pigott succeeded him. He changed his name to Fairfax. He was brought up as a Catholic, but was under the influence of his wife, Mary Goodrick, who was a staunch Protestant. All the children were brought up as Protestants, three sons and three daughters. Mary Anne was born in 1795 and died at the age of 14 years. A son, Charles Gregory born in 1796, eventually succeeded to his father’s estates. A second son, Henry, died in infancy and a third, Thomas, was born in 1800 and died unmarried at the age of 28 in 1828. Two younger daughters, Lavinia and Harriet, born in 1802 and 1804 respectively, reverted to their father’s faith. Harriet turned Roman Catholic when she married Francis Cholmeley of Brandsby, a strong Catholic family. Lavinia married the Rector of Gilling, the Rev. Alexander James Barnes M.A., and turned Catholic when he died in 1865. Mary Fairfax died in 1845 and endowed Gilling Church with the Reredos, much of the altar furnishings and communion plate.

Forward to Communications and Boundary Stones or the last Fairfaxes; back to the earlier Fairfaxes; return to Contents. counter