Fauquier County, Virginia History

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"The county was named for Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, whom Jefferson describes as the 'ablest man who ever held that office'.1 He was appointed January, 1758, and the act creating the county which took his name was passed at the first Assembly held by him after his arrival in the colony. Fauquier was born in London in 1704 at the house of his father, John Francis Fauquier, a Huguenot physician, who had left his native town of Clairac, near Bordeaux in the south of France, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) and sought refuge in England. There he found employment in the Mint and eventually became a Director of the Bank of England. The future Governor first served in the British army and after his marriage to Catherine, daughter of Sir Charles Dalston, was seated at Toteridge, in Heftfordshire, where he lived the life of a country gentleman. He was made a director of the South Sea Company in 1751 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1753. In September, 1756, he published a pamplet on a method of raising money for the prosecution of the Seven Years War with France, which gained him some celebrity and which was probably the basis of his appointment two years later to the governorship of Virginia, although in his will he attributes his promotion solely to the good offices of his 'much esteemed and respected patron, George Montague Dunk, earl of Halifax, at that time President of the board of trade. That Fauquier had a good interest among the politically powerful merchants in London may also have had some bearing on his appointment. He died and was buried at Williamsburg, March 3, 1768."

The reputation left by him in Virginia with a reference to his besetting sin, is recorded by John Burke, the historian, as follows:

"With some allowance Fauquier was every thing that could have been wished for by Virginia under a royal goverment. Generous, liberal, elegant in his manners and acquirements; his example left an impression of taste, refinement and erudition on the character of the colony, which eminently contributed to its present high reputation in the arts. It is stated on evidence sufficiently authentic that on the return of Anson from his circumnavigation of the earth, he accidently fell in with Fauquier, from whom in a single night's play he won at cards the whole of his patrimony: that afterwards being captivated by the striking graces of this gentleman's person and conversation he procured for him the govenrment of Virginia. Unreclaimed by the former surversion of his fortune, he introduced the same fatal propensity to gaming into Virginia. Unreclaimed and the example of so many virtues and accomplishments alloyed but by a single vice was but too successful in extending the influence of this pernicious and ruinous practice, He found among the people of his new government a character compounded of the same elements as his own; and he found little difficulty in rendering fashionable a practice which had before his arrival already prevailed to an alarming extent. During the recess of the courts of judicature and assemblies he visited the most distinguished landholders in this colony, and the rage of playing deep, reckless of time, health or money, spread like a contagion amongst a class proveribial for their hospitality, their politeness and fondness for expence. In every thing besides Fauquier was the ornament and delight of Virginia.

"He was buried in the north aisle of Bruton Church, in the floor at which a modern stone is set quoting the obituary which appeared in the Virginia Gazette at the time of his death. (F.H.S. Bulletin, No 4, p. 340). He provided in his will that his slaves if they went to new masters of their own choice, should be sold at 25% less than their value." (Old Prince William, II, p.657.)[1]


  1. Burke, History of Virginia, III, page 333; H.C. Groome, Fauquier During the Proprietorship: A Chronicle of the Colonization and Organization of a Northern Neck County (Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield Company), page 163-164. This book can be purchased from the Clearfield Company; Fauquier Historical Society Bulletin, No. 4, p.340.