Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Farrar, Adam Storey

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FARRAR, ADAM STOREY (1826–1905), professor of divinity and ecclesiastical history at Durham, born in London on 20 April 1820, was son of Abraham Eccles Farrar, president of the Wesleyan conference, by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Adam Storey of Leeds. Educated at the Liverpool Institute, he matriculated in 1844 at St. Mary Hall, Oxford, obtaining a first class in the final classical school and a second in mathematics, and graduating B.A. in 1850. In 1851 he was the first winner of the prize founded in memory of Arnold of Rugby, with an essay on 'The Causes of the Greatness and Decay of the Town of Carthage,' and in the following year proceeded M.A. and was elected Michel fellow of Queen's College. In two successive years, 1853 and 1854, he won the Denyer prize for a theological essay, his themes being respectively 'The Doctrine of the Trinity' and 'Original Sin.' Ordained deacon in 1852 and priest in 1853, he became tutor at Wadham College in 1855, and acted both as mathematical moderator and examiner in classics in 1856. He was appointed preacher at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, in 1858, and Bampton lecturer at Oxford in 1862, and became B.D. and D.D. in 1864.

While at Oxford Farrar published his chief literary work, 'Science in Theology, [nine] Sermons before the University of Oxford,' in 1859, and 'A Critical History of Free Thought,' the Bampton Lectures in 1862. In the former work he sought 'to bring some of the discoveries and methods of the physical and moral sciences to bear upon theoretic questions of theology.' The Bampton Lectures proved Farrar to be a learned and clear historian of ideas. In 1864 Farrar was appointed professor at Durham, and in 1878 he became canon of the cathedral. From this time onward, although he travelled widely in his vacation, not only through Europe but in Asia Minor, his life was identified with his work as teacher and preacher at Durham. His colleague. Dr. Sanday, who described him as 'a born professor,' doubted if 'any of the distinguished theologians of the last century … had at once the same commanding survey of his subject and an equal power of impressing the spoken word upon his hearers. … His knowledge was encyclopædic; and his method was also that of the encyclopædia. He was never more at home than in classifying, dividing, and subdividing. His experience in the study of natural science dominated his treatment of literature and the history of thought.' Of commanding height and appearance, and of stately manner, he by 'his physical presence heightened the eflect of what he said.'

While at Durham, although he planned without executing an English church history, he only published a few sermons. He died at Durham on 11 June 1905, without issue. He married in 1864 Sarah Martha (1824–1905), daughter of Robert Wood, a Wesleyan minister.

[Guardian, 2 June 1905; Journal of Theological Studies, art. by Dr. Sanday, October 1905; Durham University Journal, 14 July 1905, with list of sermons.]