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Lord Fairfax

Ferdinando, 2nd Lord Fairfax, Parliamentarian, 1584-1648

Ferdinando succeeded to the title in 1640. After gaining military experience in the Netherlands he sat as MP for Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, during the six parliaments 1614-29 and during the Short Parliament 1640. He was MP for Yorkshire during the Long Parliament. Fairfax commanded a regiment in the King’s army during the Bishops’ Wars then sided with Parliament on the outbreak of civil war in 1642.

He was made commander of Parliament’s forces in Yorkshire, where he was opposed by the Marquis of Newcastle. Fairfax was driven from York to Selby, then to Leeds in 1643 where he was totally defeated at Adwalton Moor. He then withdrew to Hull, which he successfully defended against Newcastle, making a brilliant sortie that caused the siege to be abandoned in October 1643.

Fairfax recaptured Selby in April 1644 and joined the Earl of Manchester and the Army of the Covenant at the siege of York. He was one of the Allied commanders at Marston Moor but fled the battlefield after his infantry were routed, believing the battle to be lost. In July 1644 he was appointed governor of York and ordered to mop up Royalist resistance in Yorkshire. In December 1644 he took the town of Pontefract, but was unable to secure the castle.

Resigning his command with the adoption of the Self-Denying Ordinance, Fairfax remained a member of the committee for Yorkshire.

He died in March 1648. He was twice married. By his first wife, Mary, he had six daughters and two sons: Thomas, who succeeded him as 3rd baron, and Charles, a cavalry colonel, who was killed at Marston Moor.

Ferdinando is buried at All Saints Church, Bolton Percy, Near Tadcaster, Yorkshire.

David Plant

 

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