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Information on the village of St. Boswells in Scotland.

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Admiral Fairfax Gravestone  Admiral Sir Henry Fairfax, Scottish Borders
Admiral Fairfax Gravestone

Admiral Sir Henry Fairfax

Admiral Sir Henry Fairfax.

Oh Saturday 22nd October the Melrose Historical Association marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar with a ceremony at Benrig Cemetery, St Boswells by the grave of local naval hero Admiral Sir Henry Fairfax.

Admiral Fairfax (1837 – 1900) was in every respect heir to Nelson’s great victory in 1805 which ushered in a century of British supremacy at sea. Nelson’s great victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets not only had the immediate result of frustrating Napoleon’s invasion ambitions for these islands but also brought about the long term legacy of over a century of global supremacy on the part of the Royal Navy. By the 1870s the British navy outnumbered the combined total of its three nearest rivals while three quarters of the world’s merchant ships flew the British flag.

Henry Fairfax was born some 30 years after Trafalgar but his long and distinguished naval career owed much to this Nelson legacy. Entering the Royal Navy in 1850 at the age of 13 he served in every part of the world from the Canadian Arctic to Australia and the South Pacific. As a young officer he saw action off East Africa during anti-slavery patrols. Later he commanded a battleship at Alexandria supporting the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt’s counter-insurgency operations. After nearly 50 years naval service Fairfax became a full Admiral, Commander-in-Chief Devonport and First Sea Lord.
He died suddenly while in office in 1900 during a visit to Naples.

Although born in Edinburgh, Henry Fairfax made his home in the Borders at Ravenswood by Leaderfoot. He had particularly close connections with the village of Newstead.

His gravestone at Benrig has recently been restored with support from the Melrose and St Boswells Community Councils and the Royal British Legion. The memorial at Benrig was rededicated by the Rev Bruce Neill, Parish Minister of St Boswells, Maxton & Mertoun and a former Principal Chaplain Royal Navy. Guest of Honour was Vice Admiral Sir Cameron Rusby RN, a current Melrose resident.

The wording on his gravestone reads

Admiral Sir HENRY FAIRFAX KCB 3rd son of Sir Henry FAIRFAX Bart. died at Naples 20.3.1900 while serving as Commander-in-Chief at Devonport and was here laid to rest 25.4.1900 admired honoured and beloved also his wife HARRIET KINLOCH who died 17.9.1925 aged 92 years.

(Text based on material kindly supplied by Ian Skinner of Melrose Historical Association, who gave the oration at the rededication ceremony.)


Admiral Sir Henry Fairfax, Scotland