The Northern Neck Land Grant
— Belvoir and the Fairfax Family —
(Left Side):The Northern Neck Land Grant
A proprietary was land granted to a loyal subject of the King. The Proprietor was permitted to subdivide the land and grant, sell or give it to others. In 1649, King Charles II granted the Northern Neck Proprietary to seven of his English supporters, one of whom was Lord Culpeper. His daughter married Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax in 1690, at which time the prominent Fairfax family came to own this land. Their eldest son, Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, inherited the Proprietary from his grandmother and his mother.
(center):Belvoir Grounds and Potomac View Trail Map
The Potomac View Trail begins across the field from where you now stand. It is moderately strenuous as it travels south along the high bluffs of the Potomac River, offering views of the water and adjacent shorelines. The self-guided trail chronologically describes the importance of the river to settlement in this region from prehistoric to contemporary times. As you walk along the trail, you may catch a glimpse of a soaring Red-tailed Hawk, or another regular visitor, the Bald Eagle.
(Right Side):Belvoir and the Fairfax Family
In 1734, Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax who lived in England, asked his trusted cousin, William Fairfax of Salem, Massachusetts, to manage his land holdings in Virginia. In 1736, William Fairfax and Augustine Washington, George Washington's father, explored the Potomac to find suitable locations to establish residences. William selected this site for the establishment of Belvoir
, which means "beautiful to see" in French. Augustine selected a nearby site on the bluffs upriver that later became the site of Mount Vernon
William commissioned the construction of the Georgian-style mansion here, which was completed in 1741. Between 1741 and 1773, the Fairfax family estate Belvoir
, served as the family home. As with other 18th century Virginia estates, Belvoir
was surrounded by gardens and outbuildings. Several archaeological studies of Belvoir
conducted since the 1930s have provided information about the outbuildings, land use, and plantation life.