George William Fairfax (January 2, 1724 – April 3, 1787) was a member of the "landed gentry of late "colonial Virginia and a "planter. A contemporary and good friend of "George Washington, Fairfax made opportunities for the younger Washington through his powerful family.
Fairfax was born in 1724 on the island of "New Providence in the "Bahamas. He was the son of Sarah (née Walker), and her husband Sir "William Fairfax, a British colonel who had served as an English Customs agent in "Barbados, as well as a justice and "Governor of the "Bahamas. At his son's birth, William was working as the Customs Collector in "Marblehead. Sarah's father Thomas Walker was "Chief Justice of the Bahamas. In addition to George, the Fairfaxes had two daughters, Anne and Sarah. The father William was first cousin to "Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. William's wife Sarah died January 21, 1731.
At Lord Fairfax's request, the senior Fairfax was reassigned to the colony of Virginia as customs agent. There he became a lieutenant of the "County of Fairfax, and member and president of the council in "Virginia (equivalent to lieutenant governor). William Fairfax also worked as a land agent for his cousin Lord Fairfax, managing his extensive holdings in the "Northern Neck of Virginia.
Genealogists remain unclear as to the origins of George William Fairfax's mother, Sarah Walker, and whether she might have possibly been of mixed race. In a letter to his mother, William Fairfax appeared to have worried about the reception of the boy by the London Fairfax family when he sent him to England.
"Col. Gale has indeed kindly offered to take the care of safe conducting my eldest son George, upwards of seven years old but I judged it too forward to send him before I had your's or some one of his Uncles' or Aunts' invitation, altho' I have no reason to doubt any of their indulgences to a poor "West India boy especially as he has the marks in his visage that will always testify his parentage."
"West India" was a term used synonymously with Creole, which denoted native-born as much as it did mixed race in the period.
After William Fairfax moved his family to Virginia, George William became a friend of "George Washington, who was three years younger. They remained friends until Fairfax's death in 1787. Fairfax's older sister Anne married George Washington's older half-brother "Lawrence in 1743, when George Washington was still an adolescent.
Fairfax arranged for the younger Washington to help him to survey the Virginia lands of his cousin, "Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. This gave him a working introduction into Virginia society
In 1748, George William married "Sally Cary, who came from one of Virginia's oldest and wealthiest families.
In 1757 after the death of his father, George William Fairfax inherited the "Belvoir plantation. His cousin Lord Fairfax moved to the "Shenandoah Valley in 1752, fixing his residence at "Greenway Court near White Post in Clarke County, at the suggestion of "Thomas Bryan Martin.
As George William Fairfax was a mentor to the young George Washington, the younger man spent considerable time at Belvoir before his marriage to "Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759. From letters that have survived, it seems that Washington had fallen in love with Sally Cary before his own marriage.
George William and his wife "Sally Fairfax did not have any children. They returned to England in 1773, prior to the events of the "American Revolutionary War, to take care of a family property matter. Fairfax was a "Loyalist. He directed his friend Washington to rent Belvoir and sell some of his property, including slaves. The Fairfaxes did not return to Virginia afterward.
In 1774 Washington wrote to George William Fairfax with an account of actions related to his business and property affairs in Virginia; with political tensions on the rise, he assured Fairfax he was keeping quiet about his friend's plans not to return to the colony. Washington also wrote of the Virginia governor's dissolution of the 1774 "House of Burgesses for passing a resolution critical of his office and the Crown, and news of tensions in the northern colonies. The two men continued to correspond during the buildup to war.