August 16, 1835, Nottingham, England.

July 17, 1901, at his home in Oxford, England.

St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Jericho, Oxford, England.


John was the eldest child of butcher John Farmer and milliner Mary Blackshaw Farmer. He learned to play the piano, violin, and harp when young. He was apprenticed to his uncle Henry Farmer, an organist, composer, and music teacher with a music and musical instrument business in Nottingham. At age 14, John went to study at the Leipzig Conservatory, then three years later under Andreas Späth in Coburg for a year. He returned to England in 1853, and entered his father’s lace business. After his mother’s death in 1856, he went to Zürich, Switzerland, where he taught music. He returned to England again in 1861, and became music master of Harrow School in 1864, staying there until 1885. He then accepted an invitation to become organist at Balliol College, Oxford, where he founded the Balliol Concerts.

During his career, Farmer composed oratorios, cantatas, church music, chamber music and numerous school songs, especially for Harrow School. One of his best known compositions was Forty Years On, which he wrote at Harrow in 1872. While at Balliol, he composed Warwick School’s first school song, Here’s a Song For All, in 1892. His other works include:

  1. Farmer

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