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A short story by Etta Belle Walker

Washington's Boyhood Friend--Lord Fairfax

Title:     Washington's Boyhood Friend--Lord Fairfax
Author: Etta Belle Walker [More Titles by Walker]

"The Proprietor of the Northern Neck," Lord Fairfax, lived at "Greenway Court" after first having a country seat at Belvoir near the Potomac River in what is now Fairfax County.

An interesting character this Fairfax must have been. Born with a title in England, he moved in intellectual circles there, was acquainted with men of letters such as Addison and actually contributed some articles to the Spectator. Either through boredom or a disappointment in not winning the lady of his choice he decided to leave his country and come to Virginia.

It may be of passing interest to learn that Lord Fairfax, although proprietor of thousands upon thousands of acres, lived in a comparatively simple way. His home was an unpretentious story and a half frame building, situated in a large grove of trees, and surrounded by smaller homes for servants and tenants. "Greenway Court," the name given the home, very probably lacked more indications of elegance and grace because of Fairfax's bachelor state.

A mile from the house he had erected a white-oak post which served as guide for those in search of his dwelling. At White Post, the village which derived its name from the signpost, one may see a replica of the original, located on the site of the first one placed there in 1760 by the proprietor.

His domain, called the "Northern Neck of Virginia," comprised the present counties of Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, Stafford, King George, Prince William, Fairfax, Loudon, Fauquier, Culpeper, Clarke, Madison and Page in Virginia and numerous counties in West Virginia.

Lord Fairfax was exceptionally interested in fox hunting and reserved great tracts for this sport. Sometimes he spent weeks at a time hunting. He made a rule that whoever caught the fox should cut off its tail and hold it aloft and should have no part of the expense of the subsequent frolic. As soon as a fox was started all the young men would gallop off at a great rate, while Fairfax waited behind with a servant familiar with the hills and streams and who had a good ear; following the servant's directions he frequently stuck the fox's tail in his hat and rejoined the hunters!

Familiar to everyone is the fact that Lord Fairfax engaged Washington, a boy of about sixteen, to survey his vast lands beyond the Blue Ridge. Through this undertaking the latter gained a thorough knowledge of frontier life and a reputation for dependability and self-confidence. These attributes were to be needed later for participation in the French and Indian War. A warm and lasting friendship grew up between the proprietor and Washington.

Being British by birth and sympathy the course of the Revolution was watched with mingled hopes and anxieties by Fairfax. When news of the final capitulation at Yorktown arrived late in October 1781 the feeble, disappointed and tired old man called his servant and asked to be put to bed since he felt the time had come for him to die. In December of that same year the great proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia died.

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Etta Belle Walker's short story: Washington's Boyhood Friend--Lord Fairfax