An American Lord in the British Court

My boyfriend Travis’s family can trace its lineage all the way back to Sybil Ludington. Having the blood of an original patriot like her running through their veins makes it no surprise that his family’s other ancestors have played their parts in history. They have fought in multiple wars, including World War II. Travis’s great-grandfather died in that war, while his great-uncle worked as a spy.

While digging through some of his grandfather’s mementos, we came across newspaper clippings. Unfortunately, they do not include a year, and Travis’s grandfather wasn’t sure when they were from. World War II, he assumed. None of the articles appeared to contain anything significant, but one mentioned the coronation of King Edward and was written about five years after he took the throne. He was crowned in 1902, meaning this small clipping was from 1908. This article was a very brief segment of that day’s newspaper and discussed an American citizen named Albert Kirby Fairfax being given a seat in the British House of Lords.

Fairfax was born in Maryland in 1870 to John Fairfax and Mary Brown Kirby. He grew up in America and worked for a New York banking house, according to the article. The Lord Fairfax title was brought to America by Thomas Fairfax, the 6th Lord Fairfax, who briefly employed George Washington. The importance of the title faded when Thomas Fairfax, the 9th Lord Fairfax, died and the title was passed to his grandson Charles, who never accepted it. The title was forgotten in their history at this point, until Charles’s nephew, Albert, received the title. Through him, the Fairfaxes regained a seat in the House of Lords in 1908 and Albert was naturalized as a British citizen. He was even invited to the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The title’s current holder is Nicholas Fairfax, 14th Lord Fairfax, a Scottish nobleman and politician.

This small scrap of newsprint was saved and tucked away inside a planner. No one in Travis’s family is sure why it has been saved all these years. Maybe it was for the announcement of Albert’s official admittance to the House of Lords, or maybe it was for the piano ad below it. Regardless, it’s an incredible window into October 13, 1908.

Rebecca Shaw

Submitted by Rebecca Shaw