Fox family of Farley

Several young children of Sir Stephen Fox (1627-1716) of Farley in Wiltshire are buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. He was a Member of Parliament for Salisbury and one of the clerks of the Green Cloth, Master of the Horse, Paymaster of the Forces, and one of the Lords of the Treasury. He became "the richest commoner in the three kingdoms" and founded Chelsea Hospital. His first wife was Elizabeth (Whittle) by whom he had seven sons and three daughters, and he had four children by his second wife Christian (Hopes). Two sons became Members of Parliament - Henry, created Baron Holland of Foxley and Stephen, created Lord Ilchester. Sir Stephen himself was buried with Elizabeth in the church he built at Farley. His daughter Elizabeth married Charles, 3rd Lord Cornwallis in the Abbey on 27th December 1673 and two of their young children, William and James, were buried in 1679 and 1680 respectively.

On the wall of the north cloister is a black and white marble monument to James and William Fox but the Latin inscription is now virtually illegible. It can be translated:

Near this place, among the ashes of their three brothers Edward, John and Stephen, sleep William and James Fox, sons of the Honorable Sir Stephen Fox, Kt. and Elizabeth his wife. Parents and sons worthy each other, whom love made one in life, one distemper in death and one grave in burial. Each of them was embellished with useful learning, which their modesty seemed to conceal, and in their youth the man grew up with them. They were born for their country and to honours, which the eldest, being Captain in the army, acquired by his fatigues over all England. William died April 17 1680 aged 20. James died November 19 1677 aged 13

The gravestone to two brothers has now worn away but it read:

Here lie interred two children of the Rt.Worshipful Sir Stephen Fox of Farley in the county of Wiltshire, Kt. Edward Fox his 4th son aged 6 years and 1 month who died on the 19 day of October 1669 and John Fox his 6th son of the age of 1 years who deceased upon the 17 day of November in the year of Our Lord 1667

Young Stephen died in October 1675. The grave inscription to daughter Christian, who died aged 1 year in 1707, had also worn away. A wall memorial to James, 5th son of Sir Stephen has decayed. Part of the florid Latin inscription included the lines ". He was a man even while he was a child and an Hercules both in his cradle and at his death". He died of smallpox on 19th November 1677 aged 12.

John Fox

John, elder brother of Sir Stephen Fox and eldest surviving son of William Fox of Farley and his wife (Margaret or Elizabeth Pavey) is buried in the north cloister. His gravestone has been re-cut and reads:

Here lyeth interrd the body of John Fox Esq. who departed this life the 19 day of Novemb. 1691 in the 80 year of his age

The coat of arms on the stone is now rubbed but showed "Ermine on a chevron, three fox heads erased". He was Clerk of the Acatry (provisions) to Charles II. His wife Elizabeth (Smart) was buried on 2nd January 1707. Their daughter Margaret (Whittle) was buried on 22nd June 1729. Another daughter Elizabeth married in the Abbey on 18th May 1665 Thomas Donkley, yeoman of His Majesty's Vestry and Closet Keeper (he was buried on 8th February 1689).

John's sister was buried on 3rd September 1710 age 71. She was Jane Fox and married Nicholas Johnson, Paymaster of the Army (who was buried in the cloister on 21 April 1682)

Thomas Fox

He was a great nephew of Sir Stephen Fox, being a son of John (and grandson of the John who was buried in 1691). His gravestone in the north cloister reads:

Here lyeth interrd the body of Thomas Fox Esq. Receiver General of Their Majesties Custome's who departed this life the 18th day of August 1691 in the 27th year os his age.

Further reading for Sir Stephen

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


North Cloister

Memorial Type

Grave; tablet

Material Type


Fox family of Farley
William and James Fox memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Fox family of Farley
John Fox grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Fox family of Farley
Thomas Fox grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster