19 April 2012

Fairfax 400th Anniversary Conference

Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron (17 January 1612 – 12 November 1671)

A major conference celebrating the 400th anniversary of the birth of Sir Thomas Fairfax (1612–1671) is to be held at the Centre for English Local History, University of Leicester, from 30 June - 1 July 2012.

The event is being organised by Dr Andrew Hopper from the University of Leicester and Dr Philip Major of Birkbeck, University of London. Dr Hopper spared a moment to answer some questions I had about Fairfax's reputation amongst historians and what delegates can expect at the conference ...

Struan: Have/how have interpretations of Fairfax changed in recent times?

Andrew Hopper: My monograph study Black Tom': Sir Thomas Fairfax and the English Revolution (Manchester University Press, 2007) - utilising sources from among the Fairfax Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library - contended that Fairfax was parliament's foremost soldier of the 1640s and not the political nonentity depicted by most historians.

S: I wrote a post recently about the Siege of Colchester. From what I've read the degree to which Fairfax was responsible for the executions of Lisle and Lucas is still unclear. Does this event still sully his reputation?

AH: At the conference there will be a paper on Fairfax's sieges which I am sure will include Colchester. It seems to me that the issue of his reputation over the death of Lucas and Lisle is still contended along partisan lines by royalist/parliamentarian historians.

S: Are there any aspects of his life that you think have been hitherto neglected by historians?

AH: Fairfax's scholarly and literary activities have been neglected by historians and there will be several papers on this aspect of his life at the conference from literary scholars. The same can be said of the role of his wife and his governorship of the Isle of Man. My contribution will be reflecting on images of Fairfax in recent literature, media and film.

The event is sponsored by Batemans Brewery, and the organisers are hoping that current members of Lord Fairfax's family will be in attendance.

Here's the full programme, with a link to registration details at the bottom:

Saturday 30 June:

9.30am Registration and Coffee

9.50am Welcome: Dr Andrew Hopper and Dr Philip Major

10.00am “Oh how I love these Solitudes”: Thomas Fairfax and the Poetics of Retirement, Dr Philip Major (Birkbeck, University of London)

11.00am “In So Shifting a Scene”: Thomas Fairfax as the Lord of Man, 1652–1660, Dr John Callow (The Marx Library, Clerkenwell)

12.00pm Coffee

12.15pm An Appleton Psalter: the Shared Devotions of Thomas Fairfax and Andrew Marvell, Rory Tanner (University of Ottawa)

1.15pm Lunch

2.30pm Anne and Thomas Fairfax, and the Vere 'Connection', Professor Jacqueline Eales (Canterbury Christ Church University)

3.30pm “The Genius of the House”: Andrew Marvell’s Private Lord Fairfax, Keith Macdonald (University of Leicester)

4.30pm Afternoon tea

5.00pm Images of Fairfax in Modern Literature and Film, Dr Andrew Hopper (University of Leicester)

6.00pm Wine reception

Sunday 1 July:
9.30am Sir Thomas Fairfax and siege warfare during the English civil wars, Robert Barcroft (Keele University)

10.30am Remembering (and Forgetting) Fairfax’s Battlefields, Dr Ian Atherton (Keele University)

11.30am Coffee

11.50am Naseby: Landscape of a Battlefield, Dr Mandy de Belin (University of Leicester)

12.50am Lunch

1.50pm Travel to Naseby by coach

2.30pm Battlefield tour conducted by members of the Naseby Battlefield Project

5.00pm Afternoon tea in Naseby area

5.30pm Return to Leicester by coach

6.10pm Arrive back in Leicester; conference ends

Fairfax 400th Anniversary Conference - registration details


  1. Wish I could be there! Will the papers be available for purchase?