Sir Thomas Fairfax

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The Fairfax Battalia was named after Sir Thomas Fairfax (nicknamed 'Black Tom' because of his dark complexion), a member of the Yorkshire gentry who rose to be the most admired military commander in the Parliamentary army of the Englsih Civil Wars period.

Born 17 January 1612 at Denton Hall, Yorkshire
Died 12 November 1671 at Nun Appleton Hall at Appleton Roebuck, North Yorkshire.
Father Ferdinando, 2nd Lord Fairfax
Mother Mary Sheffield
Education St John’s College, Cambridge
Gray’s Inn, London where he studied law between 1626 and 1628
Honours Knighted by Charles I in January 1641
Married Anne Vere (2nd daughter of his commanding officer in the Netherlands) on 20 June 1637
Allegiances to 1642, Royalist. Became opposed to Charles I and, at a gathering at Heworth Moor, Yorkshire, in response to a royal proclamation, presented a petition to Charles on behalf of the gentry and freeholders of Yorkshire who wanted to bring about a reconciliation between the King and Parliament.

1629 – 1632 Fought in the Netherlands with Sir Horace de Vere.
1639 led a troop of 160 Yorkshire dragoons as part of the army of Charles I.
1640 marched with Royalist forces during the Second Bishops’ War. Part of the force defeated at Battles of Newburn on 28 August.
1642 second in command to his father who was commander of the 1,000 strong Northern Association army.
1643 (23 January) first notable victory. Defeated the Earl of Newcastle and drove Royalists out of Leeds.
1643 (30 March) defeated by Lord Goring at Battle of Seacroft Moor in West Yorkshire. However, he enabled his father to retreat with his army. Described by Secretary Edward Nicholas as ‘the man most beloved and relyed upon by the rebells in the north’.
1643 (20 May) attacked Wakefield, believing it to be occupied by only 800 or 900 troops. In fact there were 3,000 there but he continued the attack and won, capturing Lord Goring in the process.
1643 (30 June) with a force of around 3,000 men, defended Bradford against an attack by 12,000 troops under the command of the Earl of Newcastle. The two sides met in the Battle of Adwalton Moor. Fairfax defeated. Withdrew to Hull. His wife was captured and he was injured in the wrist.
1643 (September) with his father, fortified the city of Hull which was besieged by the Earl of Newcastle. On 26 September, Sir Thomas ferried cavalry and dragoons across the River Humber and joined up with the Eastern Association army.
1643 (October) Operated with Colonel Oliver Cromwell for the first time at Winceby.
1643 (20 December) he retook Gainsborough by storm.
1644 (29 January) sent by Parliament to relieve Nantwich with 2,800 horse, 500 dragoons and 3,000 infantry. Attacked and defeated the Royalists under Lord Byron, taking all colonels and 1,500 troops prisoner.
1644 (11 April) after being reunited with his father, defeated the Royalists at Selby.
1644 (2 July) took part in the Battle of Marston Moor, the biggest battle ever to be fought on English soil. Fairfax’s cavalry (about 4,000 horse) was beaten by Lord George Goring. Cromwell and the Earl of Manchester counterattacked and won the battle.
1644 (December) Parliament passes the Self-Denying Ordinance, preventing members of the Houses of Parliament taking command.
1645 (6 January) the New Model Army was formed. Fairfax had no political office, was widely admired for his courage and ability and, at the age of 32, was appointed captain-general of the NMA and was paid £10 a day. Over the five years of his leadership he was paid a salary of £19,000. Unlike the common soldiers, many of whom did not receive their pay, the officers were paid. Cromwell was appointed lieutenant general of horse. Over a period of three months, Fairfax merged the remains of three Parliamentary armies into a disciplined fighting force.
1645 (May) Fairfax frustrated by Parliamentary interference, took control of the NMA.
1645 (14 June) Fairfax led NMA (17,000 soldiers) to victory over the Royalists (9,000 soldiers) at Battle of Naseby.
1645 (10 July) Fairfax defeated Lord George Goring’s army at the Battle of Langport.
1645 (10 September) takes Bristol after a three week siege.
1646 (24 June) Oxford surrendered to Fairfax.
1647 Fairfax received King Charles I in captivity and escorts him to Holdenby House. The King was later removed from Holdenby by Conret George Joyce while Fairfax was ill.
1647 (July) named as commander-in-chief of the NMA.
1647 (September) named Constable of the Tower of London.
1648 (March) succeeds to the title 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron on the death of his father.
1648 (27 August) took Colchester after a two month siege and had Royalist officers, Sir Charles Lucas (who had been allowed to go free after the Battle of Marston Moor) and Sir George Lisle executed.
1648 appointed to the High Court for the trial of Charles I but stopped attending when he became aware that the court planned to convict. Following the verdict he tried to avert the execution of Charles I.
1649 (7 February) elected MP for Cirencester.
1649 (April) put down rebellions in the NMA and insisted on the execution of Robert Lockyer and others.
1650 resigned as commander-in-chief, rather than invade Scotland.
1654 elected MP for West Riding of Yorkshire but appears not to have taken his seat.
1657 (7 September) arranged the marriage of his daughter to the Duke of Buckingham, a Royalist. Later, Cromwell ordered Buckingham to be thrown into the Tower. Fairfax tried to secure his release but he remained in the Tower until after Cromwell’s death.
1659 worked with General George Monck to create conditions that would allow the restoration of Charles II.
1660 (April) elected to the Convention Parliament.
1661 (April) retired to his home at Nun Appleton Hall, North Yorkshire.

Hickman, K., English Civil War: Sir Thomas Fairfax, on website accessed 17 November 2012
National Army Museum website
Gentles, I.J., (2008) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website, accessed 17 November 2012