Born: Au­gust 16, 1835, Not­ting­ham, Eng­land.

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

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



John was the son of butch­er John Farm­er and mil­lin­er Ma­ry Black­shaw, and hus­band of Ma­ry Eli­za­beth Sta­hel.

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:



Help Needed

If you know where to get a bet­ter photo of Farm­er,