Farrar, John (DNB00)

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FARRAR, JOHN (1802–1884), president of the Wesleyan methodist conference, third and youngest son of the Rev. John Farrar, Wesleyan minister, who died in 1837, was born at Alnwick, Northumberland, 29 July 1802. On the opening of Woodhouse Grove school, Yorkshire, for the education of the sons of ministers, on 12 Jan. 1812 he became one of the first pupils. On leaving school he was employed as a teacher in an academy conducted by Mr. Green at Cottingham, near Hull. In August 1822 he entered the Wesleyan ministry, and spent his four years of probation as second-master in Woodhouse Grove school. He afterwards was resident minister successively at Sheffield, Huddersfield, Macclesfield, and London, until in 1839 he was appointed tutor and governor of Abney House Training College, Stoke Newington, London. In 1843 he became classical tutor at the Wesleyan Theological Institution at Richmond, Surrey, where he spent fourteen years. As governor and chaplain he returned to Woodhouse Grove school in 1858, where under his firm rule the discipline and moral tone of the school were much improved. On the foundation of Headingley College, Leeds, in 1868, he became the first governor, and retained the chair until failing health compelled his retirement in 1876. During his residence here the jubilee of his ministry occurred, when he was presented with an organ for the college, where a marble bust of himself now preserves the memory of his connection with the institution. In 1854 the Wesleyan conference, appreciating his administrative qualities, elected him president of the conference held at Birmingham, and on the occasion of the Burslem conference in 1870 he had the rare honour of being elected president a second time. For three years prior to his first election as president he acted as secretary to the conference, and for eighteen years, between 1858 and 1876, he was continuously chairman of the Leeds district. He lived to take part in the closing scene of Woodhouse Grove school on 13 June 1883, where seventy-two years previously he had entered as a scholar. His life was spent in the active service of the religious body to which he belonged, his conduct was distinguished by judiciousness, his temper was equable, and his manner dignified. He wrote two very useful dictionaries, one dealing with the Bible and its contents, the other referring to ecclesiastical events, books which are still found useful by the scholar and teacher. He died at Headingley, Leeds, on 19 Nov. 1884, and was buried in Abney Park cemetery, Stoke Newington, on 25 Nov. He married the youngest daughter of the Rev. Miles Martindale, a Wesleyan minister. She made him an excellent wife, and was of much help to him in many of the offices which he held. He was the author of the following works:

  1. ‘The Proper Names of the Bible, their Orthography, Pronunciation, and Signification,’ 1839; 2nd edition, 1844.
  2. ‘A Biblical and Theological Dictionary, illustrative of the Old and New Testament,’ 1851.
  3. ‘An Ecclesiastical Dictionary, explanatory of the History, Antiquities, Heresies, Sects, and Religious Denominations of the Christian Church,’ 1853.
  4. ‘A Manual of Biblical Geography, Descriptive, Physical, and Historical,’ 1857.
  5. ‘A Key to the Pronunciation of the Names of Persons and Places mentioned in the Bible,’ 1857.

[Minutes of the Methodist Conference, 1885, pp. 17–19; Slugg's Woodhouse Grove School (1885), pp. 14, 79–84, 135, 257; Illustrated London News, 6 Aug. 1870, p. 149, with portrait; Times, 24 Nov. 1884, p. 8.]

G. C. B.