The origin of the name Fairfield is not known, but local legend attributes it to a remark by Lord Cornwallis about the "fair fields" of the area. The county was formed in 1785 as a part of Camden District. The town of Winnsboro, which was settled around 1755, is the county seat. Fairfield County lies between the upcountry and the lowcountry areas of the state, and it was settled both by Scotch-Irish immigrants from colonies to the north and by English and French Huguenot planters from the lowcountry. In the colonial period this area was a center for the Regulator movement, which sought to bring law and order to the backcountry. During the Revolutionary War, Lord Cornwallis made his headquarters in Winnsboro from October 1780 to January 1781; the county was also invaded by General Sherman's troops during the Civil War. Cotton production was the major economic activity of the area, but the county also produced Winnsboro Blue Granite. Some prominent residents of the county were Regulator leader Thomas Woodward (d. 1779), Revolutionary War soldier Richard Winn (1750-1818), and artist Laura Glenn Douglas (1886-1962).
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