Henry Fairfax (Royal Navy officer)

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For the 4th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1631–1688), see Henry Fairfax, 4th Lord Fairfax of Cameron.
Sir Henry Fairfax
Born (1837-01-21)21 January 1837
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 20 March 1900(1900-03-20) (aged 63)
Naples, Italy
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1850–1900
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Forte
HMS Volage
HMS Monarch
Australia Station
Channel Fleet
Plymouth Command
Battles/wars Anglo-Egyptian War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath

Admiral Sir Henry Fairfax, KCB, FRGS (21 January 1837 – 20 March 1900) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to serve as Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth. He was the third son of Sir Henry Fairfax, 1st Baronet.[1]

Naval career[edit]

Henry Fairfax joined the Royal Navy in 1850[1] and, in 1862, was promoted to commander[1] for "distinguished valour in the capture of a pirate slaver".[2] In 1874, as commander of HMS Volage,[1] he led an astronomical expedition to Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean.[2] As another decade passed, he was in command of the HMS Monarch at the bombardment of Alexandria[1] during the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882 and was promoted to rear admiral in 1885.[1] In 1887 he received appointment as commander-in-chief of Australia Station,[1] the description given to the naval command of British colonial possessions in Australia and South Pacific and, on 24 October 1889, became Second Naval Lord.[1] He served, from 1892 to 1895, as commander of the Channel Fleet, which was historically charged with defending the waters of the English Channel.[1] In November 1892, HMS Howe stranded on rocks at the entrance to Ferrol Harbour; Fairfax as officer commanding the squadron was court-martialled but was acquitted on the ground that the chart in use was unreliable.[3]

As well as seagoing commands, he held several land based appointments and was captain of Britannia, the Royal Navy Officer training establishment between 1887 and 1882 as well as being Naval Aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria in 1882.[1]

Fairfax died in Naples in 1900, while serving as Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth.[2]


In 1872 he married Harriet Kinloch.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Peter Davis. "Henry Fairfax R.N.". William Loney RN. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Admiral Fairfax is dead". New York Times. 21 March 1900. p. 7. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "The wreck of HMS Howe". The Gippsland Times. 11 January 1893. p. 3. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
George Tryon
Commander-in-Chief, Australia Station
Succeeded by
Lord Charles Montagu Douglas Scott
Preceded by
Sir Richard Hamilton
Second Naval Lord
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Richards
Preceded by
Sir Michael Culme-Seymour
Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Robert FitzRoy
Preceded by
Sir Edmund Fremantle
Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
Succeeded by
Lord Charles Montagu Douglas Scott