John Pinder Farre

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About John Pinder Farre


John Pinder Farre was the original compiler of the Farre Family History in 1889 called "The Farres of Barbadoes" which was subsequently elaborated upon, updated, expanded and researched by a Farre descendant Edna Clare Sparkman and her husband Jack Sparkman over the period 1958 to 1.11.2009 when Jack passed away in East London South Africa aged 99 years. _____________________________________________________________________________

Over the past thirty to forty years my husband and I have made occasional endeavours to obtain additional information about the members of my family who appear in the above history, a copy of which was given to me by my mother, who, had inherited it from her mother, formerly Susan Mary Farre.

Our findings were discussed with my cousin, the late Wiltse John Ballantine, who suggested that I should publish the information revealed by my research. However, it was only after Wiltse's death that we decided to accelerate our search for details, then revise the history and incorporate not only the facts we had discovered but also photographs, letters, wills and other relevant items.

It was not long after commencing the typing of the fair copy that we decided to include details of the descendants of the Farre daughters as well. Needless to say, this decision has widened the scope - and the work - considerably but, we believe, it will provide a concise but as comprehensive a record as possible of the Farres and their descendants.

In this task we have received great assistance from the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, the Cape and the Natal Archi ves, the Reference Librarians of East London, Johannesburg and the South African Library, Cape Town and the Historian of the Kaffrarian Museum, King Williams Town. In addition, useful data and photographs have been provided by a number of descendants. I am also endebted to my husband for his research and the typing of the fair copy.

I have decided to continue the spelling of "Barbadoes", as used by Pinder Farre in his history. As the Preface of Pinder Farre' s work contains much interesting information I deem it essential that those details be included in this Preface to the revision which follows.

Clare Sparkman EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA 15 May ;1985



(To the “Farres of Barbadoes” by J. Pinder Farre – Lady Day 1889)

The Farres of Barbadoes are probably descended from Edward Farr who went to St. Kitts, and some of the family, no doubt, afterwards to Barbadoes, as from the Island of St. Kitts many persons settled in Barbadoes.

Edward Farr, above named, was a scion of the Dorset Farrs, who appear at an earlier period to have been identical with the Norfolk, Suffolk and Gillingham Farrs, who had property in Essex and elsewhere, and for whom descent is claimed by Mr. Pym Yeatman in certain documents in my possession from Sir Guy de Ferre, a Knight of Gascony and Lieutenant o f that province in the reign o f Edward II.

The Farrs of Beccles, in Suffolk, who use the armorial bearings described in these records, claim descent from Colonel Henry Farre, who was one of the three officers who defended Colchester against Cromwell's troops - see Smollett's "History of England" and Morant's "History of Essex" - but in their genealogical tables, as furnished to me, there is no proof of such descent.

Colonel Henry Farre, of Great Bursted, in Essex, was a direct descendant of Walter Farre, who in the reign of Henry VIII, was largely possessed of church property. In the pedigrees, deeds, and documents, copies of or extracts from which are in my possession, the name Farre is variously spelt, according to the particular century, thus: De Ferre, Ferre, Farr, Farre, ffarr, ffarre, and ffawer. The last three forms are to be found in documents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the double "f" of that period being simply a form of the capital letter.

Edward Farr, already referred to, I have evidence, reached St. Kitts in the year 1635, and the first record of the marriage of a Farre in the registers of Barbadoes is the marriage of Elizabeth Farre with Adam Wallis on the 10th November, 1659. During these twenty-four years the children or family of Edward Farr, who would then have been fifty two years old, may well have removed to Barbadoes.

From 1660 to 1837 various marriages and deaths of the Farre or Farr family are recorded in the Barbadoes Official Register, kept in the Colonial Secretary's Office at Bridgetown, and these records include the marriages of Dr. Richard John Farre (grandfather of the present writer) in 1768, and of his two daughters in 1787 and 1795 respectively. But there is no record of the burial of any Farr earlier than 1690, and it is believed that the reason of this, as also of the absence of baptismal records, is that the greater part of the church registers were destroyed in the hurricanes which formerly were very frequent in Barbadoes This has been officially stated to be the case.

It will be observed from the biographical account of the Barbadoes Farres, to which this is an introduction, that the earliest tradition we have of our family in Barbadoes, which can be regarded as undoubtedly true, having been carefully handed down to subsequent generations, is that of Richard Farre, whose son, John Farre, was born in 1709-10, and Richard Farre may therefore have been born 1670-90, but probably about 1680. He was the brother of John Farre, and these were the brothers who promised each other that their descendants should, forever, alternately bear the names of John and Richard, a promise which was faithfully kept in the family until departed from by Henry, born 1799 (eldest son of John Richard Farre) who did not transmit either of these names to his descendants.

Richard's son, John Farre, born in 1710, was a private gentleman, living on his estate in Barbadoes, and died at the age of thirty six, when his son Richard John Farre (known as "Sweet Richard" from his amiable disposition) was two years old.

The latter was a delicate child, and the Jackman family, into which John Farre had married, hoping that this child would die, lived freely on the proceeds of the estate, paying none of the debts out of income until Richard John Farre's majority, when he found the property so encumbered that he sold it and lived by the medical profession, which he had resolved to adopt as a means of livelihood. It should be here noted that John Farre, the brother of Richard Farre (circa 1680), went, according to tradition, to settle in either Trinidad or Antigua, but I think the former, and a tradition exists that he never married.

To return to Richard John Farre. He came to England for his medical education at St. Thomas' Hospital in the year 1765, as shown in John Richard Farre's history of his father, grandfather, and of his own youth, which is appended to this introduction.

Some years later, on a second visit, R.J. Farre inquired at the Heralds' College for the arms of Farre, a fact which shows that he knew the county to which his family belonged - this being a fact which is required to be stated - and that he knew his descent to be from the English and not from the French Farres. I have amongst the original family records, from which this history is compiled, a cornelian seal, formerly worn by my father, John Richard Farre, bearing the coat of arms engraved in this history, and which was probably cut for Richard John Farre, as it undoubtedly belonged to him, and I have a letter from him bearing date 6th July, 1783, sealed evidently with this seal, which exactly fits the impression in the wax.

My grandfather was, however, in no doubt as to his proper armorial bearings, for my father stated to me that he remembered at the time of his childhood some then very old family plate with the escutcheon now in use. It consisted of candlesticks, but he did not know what became of them.

The baptisms do not clearly relate to our family, but "Geo. Farrye" might have been a Farre, if mispronounced "Farry" by the person entering it. Of the marriages all "Farres" or "Farrs" are undoubtedly those of our family, except Samuel Athill Farr, 1837, who must have been some recent settler in the island, my father having taken farewell of his birthplace in 1798, his second revisit of Barbadoes. In the year 1799 my grandfather, Richard John Farre, went to Bermuda for the restoration of his shattered health, but died there on September 5th from an attack of gout in the stomach, and my father brought his mother, Elizabeth (nee Wharton), home to London, where she died the following year, and was buried in Bishopsgate Church.

As already stated, John Richard Farre never returned to Barbadoes, although his eldest son Henry, who died in Madeira, visited the island many years later to learn tropical farming.

The following tradition was repeated to his children by John Richard Farre, my father (born 1775), but he never stated to any of them the source from which he derived it:-

"That, in consequence of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, two brothers, Richard and John, members of the family of the Marquis: de la Farre, Chateau d'Ecosse, Department of the Charente, made their escape from the South of France in a ship bound for the French West Indian Islands, but not daring to land on French soil, went to Barbadoes, carrying with a little money, plate, and jewellery, all they could save from the wreck of their property.

One of them having acquired previously a knowledge of the healing art, it was employed as a means of support. These two brothers stated that they were in perfect ignorance as to the fate of the rest of their family."

The following observations may be made on the above tradition:-

That these brothers lived in Barbadoes for a time together, and that Richard Farre settled there permanently and had issue in 1709-10 John Farre, is beyond all question. The tradition seems to imply that the brothers had come to man's estate before their flight. Assuming, therefore, that Richard Farre was only twenty years of age in 1685, the year of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV., he would have been at least forty-four years of age before his only child was born. This, in a tropical climate, seems unlikely. The brothers were always spoken of as Richard and John Farre, hence it is believed that Richard was the elder of the two, and therefore would have been probably much older than twenty years old at the time of emigration.

These circumstances alone, however, do not render this descent impossible, but it is further to be remarked that the escutcheon of the Marquis la Farre, or Fare, is thus quoted in the Armorial-General:- Rietstap. 1861 (Athenaeum Library), "Fare (la) Marquis 1646, D'azure atrois flambeaux d'or, allumes de gu." In other words, "On a blue ground, three golden torches flamed red."

Now, the arms in use in our family, those which Richard John Farre had engraved on his seal, and which he took from the Heralds' College, the same which my father, John Richard Farre (born 1775), assured me he remembered, as a child, on old family candlesticks, and he repeated again to me that "they were very old," are thus:-

Gules. A saltire or, cotised argent, between four fleur-de-lis of the same.

These were also the arms borne by Walter Farre.

There is neither crest nor motto to these bearings. The crest in use was simply taken out of the shield by my father, and the motto "Fidelis" assumed by him. The family have no right to either.

The absence of crest or motto has been stated to be evidence of the antiquity of the coat of arms. It was also stated to me by Arthur Farre that in their earlier days, as young men, they never heard of the tradition of emigration from France, and that my father appeared to have adopted it in later life.

In these documents which follow I have traced the authentic history of our family for seven generations, and for a period of 200 years. Previous to this period the course of descent is doubtful; but whether, as appears most probable, from the English county family of Farre (now extinct as a county family), or from the French line, it appears tolerably certain that all Farres were originally French, probably Gascons.

J. Pinder Farre

Lady Day, 1889.

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John Pinder Farre's Timeline

July 29, 1837
London, Greater London, UK
September 2, 1837
London, UK
November 4, 1879
Age 42
London, UK
July 20, 1884
Age 46
London, UK