- 1695-1725 (Creation)
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0.04 cubic metres
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Admiral Robert Fairfax was born in February 1666 and baptised on the 23rd February at Steeton Chapel in Newton Kyme, Yorkshire. He was the second son of William Fairfax of Steeton and Newton Kyme, and his wife Catherine Stapleton. His grandfather, Sir William Fairfax, had been a colonel in the parliamentary army and was killed at the relief of Montgomery Castle in 1644.
Robert Fairfax's first experience of the sea was aboard a merchant ship commanded by Captain Bushell in 1681. In January 1688 he was received as a volunteer on board the 'Mary', the flagship of Sir Roger Strickland, and was promoted to be lieutenant of the 'Bonaventure', commanded by Captain Thomas Hopson, later that same year. In this role Fairfax saw action at the battle in Bantry Bay (1 May 1689), the relief of Londonderry (July 1689), and the battle of Beachy Head (20 June 1690).
In November 1690, Fairfax was promoted to command the 'Conception', and for the next two years was stationed at Boston, Massachusetts, cruising against French privateers. In June 1693 he returned to England where he was appointed to the 'Ruby' and ordered to cruise on the coast of Ireland for the protection of trade. During this time he captured a French privateer, the 'Entreprenante', and was consequently promoted to command of the eighty gun 'Newark' in recognition of his service. In the Newark, and later in the 'Cornwall', he was employed in convoy duty in the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay and the Portuguese coast.
On the death of his elder brother in 1694, Robert Fairfax succeeded to the Steeton and Newton Kyme estates. On 20 November of that year he married Esther, the sister of Captain Bushell and widow of Charles Tomlinson of Whitby.
In May 1699, Fairfax was appointed to the 'Severn,' followed by the 'Cambridge' and the 'Restoration.' In January 1703 he took command of the 'Somerset,' before being transferred to the 'Kent' as flag captain to Rear-Admiral Thomas Dilkes.
In 1704, as commander of the 'Berwick', Fairfax was tried by court martial, along with six other captains, for their failure to capture a French squadron off Cape Palos on the Spanish coast. All were fully acquitted. Fairfax went on to fight at the capture of Gibralter and the battle of Malaga in the same year. In 1705 he took part in the capture of Barcelona aboard the 'Torbay'.
In 1706 Fairfax was given command of the 'Barfleur' as commander-in-chief in the Thames and Medway, and in early 1707 he was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. After a commission as vice-admiral of the blue was cancelled in 1708, Fairfax refused all further service and retired from naval life later that year.
Following his retirement, Fairfax was elected Member of Parliament for the city of York at a by-election in 1713. In 1715 he served as Lord Mayor of York. He spent the rest of his life in Yorkshire, attending to the management and development of his property.
Admiral Fairfax died on 17 October 1725 and was survived by his wife and 2 children.
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