Anyone familiar with the countryside of Northern Virginia is familiar with these four names: Prince William, Lord Fairfax, the Earl of Loudoun, and Lt. Gov. Fauquier. Many, perhaps, do not know much about these four men that have lent their names to the countryside of the northeastern corner of the state. To preempt a question about the other county of the region -- Arlington County was named, not for a man, but for a home: the Arlington House of General Robert E. Lee, having previously been named Alexandria County.
Prince William, 1754, by Sir Joshua Reynolds (L). Prince William County in Virginia (R)
Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, (+1765) was the son of King George II of Great Britain (and Elector of Hanover). Born in 1721, Prince William was the third son (second surviving) of the king, and was named Duke of Cumberland at the tender age of but 4 years of age. He would be the younger brother of Prince Frederick of Wales, father of King George III -- making Prince William the uncle of that monarch during the American Revolution. Prince William would have a county named for him in Northern Virginia in 1731 (formed from Stafford Co.); no doubt in expectation of accomplishments to come, as he was still only 10 years old. The Duke of Cumberland pursued a military career, and became quite the villian in Scottish and Catholic history with his crushing defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 during the '45 Scottish rising. Cumberland County, Virginia, would be named in his honor in 1749 after his victory there. His performance during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), known as the French and Indian War, in Europe disgusted his father, however, and he retired from public life, dying, still a bachelor, in 1765.
For more, here is the official page of Prince William County: http://www.pwcgov.org/community/history/Pages/default.aspx
The 6th Lord Fairfax (L). Fairfax County in Virginia (R).
Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (+1781AD), was the inheritor of a vast proprietary claim that included the colony of Virginia north of the Rappahannock River. This had been a gift to loyal supporters of King Charles II, and Fairfax's mother, a Culpeper, had come into possession of the the bulk of the territory. It was this family that employed the Carters as land agents in Northern Virginia. When Lord Fairfax, born in 1693AD, inherited this holding, he was not a disinterested proprietor, but actually visited Northern Virginia in the 1730s, moved to Belvoir on the Potomac with his cousin in 1747, and established his residence in the Shenandoah Valley at Greenway Court in 1752. This bachelor peer was a benevolent proprietor who was willing to work with his subjects when it came to their property taxes, at least more willing than the government of the colony. Fairfax County would be named in his honor in 1742AD (formed from Pr. Wm. Co.). While he remained loyal to the crown during the Revolution, he was well respected enough to be left alone. He died in 1781 at a ripe old age.
For more (though nothing about Lord Fairfax): http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/visitors/history/
The 4th Earl of Loudoun, around 1750, by Allan Ramsay (L). Loudoun County in Virginia (R).
John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun (+1782AD) was a Scottish nobleman who actually served under Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 -- one of the pro-Hanover Campbells. At the outbreak of the Seven Years War (French and Indian War) in 1756, the Earl of Loudoun was named commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, and Governor of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia. His tenure was not one of military success or residence in Virginia -- he was, like most of the governors of the 18th century -- an absentee royal governor. Nevertheless, he retained the title until 1759AD. In the mean time, a county was named for him in 1757AD, formed from Fairfax Co. He, like Prince William and Lord Fairfax, was a bachelor.
From the County of Loudoun: http://loudoun.gov/index.aspx?nid=174
Sir Francis Fauquier, ca. 1751 (L). Fauquier County in Virginia (R).
Sir Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia (+1768AD), though born in England, was of French Huguenot ancestry. He was apparently quite the Renaissance man, like his father. Coming to Virginia in 1758AD as Lieutenant Governor, he replaced Robert Dinwiddie (the man that sent Washington to clear the French out of Ft. Duquesne/Pitt, and for whom a county is named near Petersburg, Va.), and governed a colony which was, by title, under the governorship of the absentee Earl of Loudoun, and later, from 1759, the absentee governor, Sir Jeffrey Amherst. Thus, despite his title of Lieutenant Governor, Sir Francis Fauquier was the resident representative of royal government in Virginia from 1758 to his death in 1768. While he generally got along well with the local Virginians, he was forced to dissolve the House of Burgesses in 1765 in the midst of the Stamp Act furor. A county was named for him, formed from Prince William Co. in 1759AD, soon after his arrival as Lt. Gov. He is the only one of the four that was not a bachelor!
Here is a good biography of Fauquier: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Fauquier_Francis_bap_1703-1768#start_entry
For more on Fauquier County: http://www.fauquiertourism.com/aboutfauquier.html