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The Clergy of Bognor

Rt. Rev. Walter Farrar, DD


Note: All the photographs (except those of the located graves)  are very kindly provided for inclusion on this website by Helen Nedham, Richard Farrar and Tim Smellie  but they are included on the basis that they must not be reproduced under any circumstances.

At Bognor 1915 - 1916 Status Vicar    
Date of Birth 20th April 1865 Place British Guiana Baptised  
Marriage 1889 Place All Saints Church, New Amsterdam, British Guiana Wife Alice
Death 6th December 1916 Place Bognor Buried Hawthorn Rd. Cemetery, Bognor Regis (burial no. 1963)
Family Details          
Father: Ven. Archdeacon Thomas Farrar B.D.
Mother: Melicent Ann Austin
Married Alice eldest daughter of William.Francis Bridges, JP, Administrator of British Guiana
Academic Details          
Queen’s College, Georgetown, and was the second student to win the British Guiana Scholarship (the first being his future brother-in-law, James Hill Conyers) to Keble College, Oxford, in 1883. He graduated with honours in theology in 1887.
In 1905, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from his College.
Ecclesiastical Details        

Returned to British Guiana and ordained a deacon by Bishop William Piercy Austin in 1888.
1893 appointed Chaplain of H.M. Penal Settlement, Mazaruni;
During the period 1897-1905, Rector of Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire, and Hawkchurch in Devonshire, Acting Warden of the Jamaica Church Theological College, and Commissary in England of the Bishop of Guiana.
In 1905 consecrated Bishop of Antigua in St. Michael’s Cathedral, Barbados, but had to resign five years later due to ill health. I
As Bishop of Antigua, went to Barbados in 1908 to became Principal of Codrington College.
Left Barbados in 1909 for England where he held several posts including Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of York, Principal of Bishop’s College, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and Assistant Bishop in the West Indies.
1910, went to Canada to assist in the administration of the diocese of Quebec for two years.
1912  went to British Honduras, first as Commissary for, and then Bishop of British Honduras and Central America, a post that he held from 1913-1915.
1915 appointed vicar of St John the Baptist Church, Bognor, Sussex.

Times Obituary 9th December, 1916
The death is announced of the Right Rev. Walter Farrar, D.D., vicar of Bognor, Sussex, and formerly Bishop of British Honduras and Central America.  It was just over a year ago that he resigned his bishopric and accepted the vicarage of Bognor.  He had been in ill-health since September.  Bishop Farrar was 51.  He was the son of Archdeacon Thomas Farrar, Vicar-General of Guiana,  Born in British Guiana, he was educated at Queen's College, Guiana, and at Keble College, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1887, being placed in the third class in the Theological School.  He was ordained in the following year and began work at once in British Guiana as Incumbent of St, Mary's, East coast, and after a period as chaplain of the Penal Settlement at Mazaruni, he became rector of Holy Trinity, Essequibo, in 1896.  Two years later he was appointed to the rectory of Hawkchurch, Dorset, which he held till 1905, when he was consecrated Bishop of Antigua.  Afterwards, from 1910, he was successively Assistant Bishop of Quebec and Assistant Bishop of the West Indies, and he was appointed Bishop of Honduras in 1913.  He married in 1889 the elder daughter of Mr. W.F. Bridges, Administrator-General of British Guiana, who, with two sons and two daughters, survive him.  The elder son has just received a commission from the O.T.C., and the other is already serving in Mesopotamia.
Other Information          

(1)'The Farrar Family': A Partial Account of the Life of the Venerable Archdeacon Thomas Farrar, B.D. and of His Descendents (Richard John Piercy Farrar & Helen Joan Howard Nedham - ISBN 0954667700).

Note: Richard Farrar's grandfather was Cecil Farrar, brother of Walter Farrar so Walter  was his great uncle and Archdeacon Thomas Farrar was his  great grandfather. Walter and Cecil's sister Anne Farrar  was Helen Nedham's great grandmother.

(2) R.B Austin on the descendents of Thomas Austin of Barbados (1727-1806) -

Initial Enquiry about a former bishop of West Indies

Visitors to St. Wilfrid’s Church who have seen the wooden plaque recording the line of Perpetual Curates and Vicars of the Parish of Bognor, may have been intrigued to note that the list includes a former Bishop – Walter Farrar., DD. The name of Farrar is a very important one in ecclesiastical circles as the Very Rev. Frederic William Farrar, DD, (1831–1903) was a dean of Canterbury and a novelist who became famous for the book ‘Eric, or Little by Little’ published in 1858, which in its time was as popular as ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’. The Who’s Who entry for the Rev. Walter Farrar states that his father was indeed the famous dean, but this family connection seemed unlikely because we knew that Walter was actually born in British Guiana, educated there before going to Oxford to take a degree, and married the Administrator of Guiana’s daughter. The Guiana jigsaw pieces and the pieces to do with the famous dean just didn’t fit together – and after a great deal of research we now know that this connection is indeed wrong.

The trigger to all this research was a  website enquiry in September 2006 from Michael Grace, TSSF who is writing a book on the Diocese of West Indies and had noted Walter’s association with St. Wilfrid’s church. We were able to help Michael with the location of where Walter is buried (plot 1975) in Hawthorn Rd. Cemetery, Bognor Regis in a family grave with his youngest daughter Alice Irene (plot 1976).

The family plot was completely overgrown with ivy and partially vandalised but with the much appreciated assistance of Ron Iden at the West Sussex County Record Office, John was able to identify the exact plots from a map of the graves - otherwise it would have been impossible to trace them. After clearing all the weeds and placing the broken crosses in a more fitting position, the photographs below were taken. At the end of this article it will be noted that the adjoining plot revealed further amazing links with the West Indies!


The Farrar family plots 1976 - 1975


Alice Irene (daughter) plot 1976 Walter Farrar plot 1975



Links with Thomas Austin Descendents in Barbados

An exchange of research data followed and a vital start to our research into Walter’s life was a link to the website created by R.B Austin on the descendents of Thomas Austin of Barbados (1727-1806).

From this remarkable website we were able to ascertain:

Walter was born to Thomas Farrar and Melicent Ann Austin in ‘Eliza and Mary’, at Springlands, Corentyne, Berbice on the 20th April 1865 and that Melicent Ann Austin was a descendent of Thomas Austin who is believed to have been born on the Island of Barbados in about 1727. His ancestors had most likely emigrated from England, possibly via the then American Colonies, during the previous century. Thomas married three times and had sixteen children, all born in Barbados. Some remained on the Island, others emigrated to Guiana. The children and their descendants rose to prominent positions in society, some taking Holy Orders and others holding senior posts in government and in the British Armed Forces. The source of their wealth was sugar.

Melicent married the Ven.Archdeacon Thomas Farrar B.D. son of James Farrar and Harriett Armitage on 13 Aug 1857 in St Philip's, Charlestown, Georgetown. Thomas was born on 21 Dec 1830 in Holbeck, Leeds. He was christened on 22 Dec 1830 and died on 21 Aug 1893 in Georgetown.

Thomas and Melicent  had 14 children –

  1. James Henry Farrar b 3 Aug 1858 in At sea off Maida, Corentyne; d 24 Oct 1859.

  2. Melicent Farrar "Milly, Aunt Milly" b 30 Oct 1860 in Holbeck, Leeds; d 31 Jan 1944 in Christ Church Vicarage, Georgetown

  3. Anne Farrar "Annie" b 13 May 1862 in Holbeck, Leeds; d 17 Mar 1936 in Georgetown.

  4. Bishop Walter Farrar D.D. b 20 Apr 1865 in Eliza and Mary, Corentyne; d 6th December 1916.

  5. Nicholas Farrar b 1 Oct 1866 in Werk-en-Rust, Georgetown; d 13 Feb 1927 in Toronto.

  6. Marie Farrar b 2 Mar 1869 in Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, B.G.; d 4 Jun 1935 in Bridgetown, Barbados

  7. Edward Farrar b 20 Jun 1870 in Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, B.G.; d 20 Jun 1870 in Penal Settlement, Mazaruni,

  8. Ellen Farrar "Nellie" b 26 Sep 1871 in Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, B.G.; d on 1 Mar 1969 in Montreal.

  9. Rev. Canon Piercy Austin Farrar b 1 Sep 1873 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 29 Oct 1947.

  10. Cecil Farrar b 6 Mar 1875 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 17 Dec 1948 in B.G.

  11. Alfred Farrar b 10 Oct 1876 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 28 Oct 1917 in Enemy action at sea.

  12. Josephine Martha Alice Farrar b 27 Mar 1878 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 3 Aug 1927 in Georgetown.

  13. Ada Blanche Pierce Farrar b 10 Dec 1879 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 14 Jan 1962.

  14. Edith Louisa Fanny Farrar b 25 Feb 1882 in St Paul's Rectory, Sparendaam, Demerara; d 18 Sep 1960. Edith was cremated in Brighton Crematorium.

Archdeacon Thomas and Melicent Ann Farrar and their family
(Seated):Melicent Ann and Annie with Ada standing between them. Front Standing: Josephine, in the dark tunic, with Edith (beside her mother). (Second row standing): Walter, Cecil, Thomas, Milly and Alfred (with hands in pockets). (Back row): Nellie between Walter and Cecil, with Marie at the rear. [Absent: Nicholas and Piercy].
[The photograph was taken at All Saints’ Rectory, New Amsterdam, Berbice, c1892, the year before Thomas Farrar died]


All Saints’ Rectory, New Amsterdam, Berbice All Saints Church (c 1935)
All Saints Church and Rectory of Archdeacon Thomas Farrar and family home of Bishop Walter Farrar



New Amsterdam, Berbice
New Amsterdam is clearly shown on the East bank of the Berbice River. The map also indicates the location of Springlands, on the West bank of the Courantyne River, where the village of Eliza and Mary is located and where Walter was born. Skeldon, where Walter was curate of St. Margaret’s from 1888 to 1890, is a sugar plantation. The Courentyne Coast district, taken from the name of the river, is nowadays often spelt Corentyne. The dotted red line on the west bank of the river marks the border between British Guiana/Guyana and Dutch Guiana/Surinam.


After publication of the initial website entry, we have received a great deal of valuable assistance from Helen Nedham, Richard Farrar and Tim Smellie who have extensively researched the Thomas Farrar family and we would like to record our appreciation for all their support.. Helen and Richard have published a book 'The Farrar Family': A Partial Account of the Life of the Venerable Archdeacon Thomas Farrar, B.D. and of His Descendents (Richard John Piercy Farrar & Helen Joan Howard Nedham - ISBN 0954667700) and have very kindly allowed us to include the details about Walter Farrar from their book shown below:

Walter Farrar Section in Richard Farrar and Helen Nedham's Book

WALTER FARRAR (1865–1916): Walter was born at ‘Eliza and Mary’, Springlands, Corentyne, Berbice, on April 20th, 1865. He was educated at Queen’s College, Georgetown, and was the second student (the first being his future brother-in-law, James Hill Conyers) to win the British Guiana Scholarship before going up to Keble College, Oxford University in 1883. He graduated in 1887 with an honours degree in theology and was an exhibitioner at Lichfield College. In 1891, also from Oxford, he obtained his M.A. and in 1895 his B.D. In 1895, Walter obtained a second M.A. (ad eund), this time from the University of Durham. He was ordained deacon by Bishop William Piercy Austin in 1888 at St. George’s Pro-Cathedral, Georgetown, and was priested in 1889.


William Piercy Austin, B.A. (Oxon), M.A. (Oxon), D.D. (Oxon and Durham), L.L.D. (Cantab.), D.C.L. (Oxon), Bishop of British Guiana & Primate of the West Indies. Bishop Austin is wearing the badge of Prelate of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, awarded to him in 1891 by Queen Victoria.

The Ven.Archdeacon Thomas Farrar gave an address  on the occasion of the Jubilee of Bishop William Piercy Austin. Richard Farrar (Archdeacon Thomas Farrar was his great grandfather and William Piercy Austin was his great great great uncle) has very kindly advised me of a link to the Project Canterbury website where the whole address can be viewed - a fascinating first hand account of the local church history from Walter Farrar's father. Note from Appendix B that Walter Farrar was present at this 1891 Jubilee Service

Walter was curate of St. Margaret’s, Skeldon, with St. Mary’s, Plantation Mary’s Hope, (Leeds Village) 1 and Superintendent of the aboriginal and Chinese missions in the Upper Courantyne River, Berbice, 1888–90; Chaplain of H.M. Penal Settlement, Mazaruni, 1890–94 (a post which his father had held before him, and which was considered at the time a high compliment and a reward for his high scholarly attainments as a young clergyman).


H.M. Penal Settlement, Mazaruni
From canoe shows the Penal Settlement Chapel
The location of the penal settlement is clearly shown opposite BARTICA at the confluence of the Essequibo, Cuyuni (flowing from the West) and Mazaruni (flowing from the South) rivers.

He was examining chaplain to the Bishop of Guiana, 1893–93; priest-in-charge of Beterverwagting, East Coast, Demerara, and superintendent of the training college for catechists, 1894–96; and rector of Holy Trinity, Anna Regina, Essequibo, 1896–97. In 1897, Walter went to England where he became, firstly, curate of the Parish of Winsley cum Limpley Stoke, 2 Bath, Wiltshire; and then rector of Hawkchurch, Axminster, Dorset now (2003), in Devonshire) 1898–1905. The following is an extract of the Sources for Clergy in the diocesan archives at the Wiltshire and Swindon record office in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

John [Sarum] by Divine Permission, Bishop of Salisbury. To our beloved in CHRIST Walter Farrar, B.D., Clerk. Greeting. We do by these Presents give and grant unto you, in whose Fidelity, Morals, Learning, sound Doctrine, and Diligence, We do fully confide, our Licence and Authority to perform the Office of Assistant Stipendiary Curate in the Parish of Winsley cum Limpley Stoke 3 in the County of Wilts. within our Diocese and Jurisdiction, in the place of Charles Standen, Clerk, late licensed Curate at thereof, in reading the Common Prayer, preaching the Word of God, administering the Holy Sacraments and in performing all other ecclesiastical duties belonging to the said Office, according to the Form prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, and of the Ordering of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, made and published by authority of Parliament, and the Canons and Constitutions in that behalf lawfully established and, promulged, and none other, except [inserted here, in very small handwriting, is a sentence which cannot be deciphered] so far as shall be ordered by lawful authority. And WE do by these Presents assign unto you the yearly Stipend of One Hundred Pounds to be paid quarterly for serving the said Cure. And we do direct you to reside at Limpley Stoke.

IN WITNESS whereof, We have caused our Seal, which we use in this case to be hereto affixed. Dated the Fifteenth day of December in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety seven and in the thirteenth year of our Consecration.

Walter’s book, ‘Notes on Cultus of the Sacred Heart’, was published in 1900. He was commissary, in England, to the Bishop of Guiana, 1901–5, 4 and acting warden of the Theological College, Up Park Camp, Jamaica, 1904. On May 7th, 1905, he was consecrated Bishop of Antigua in St. Michael’s Cathedral, Barbados, by the Archbishop of the West Indies (Nuttall), assisted by the Bishops of Guiana (Edward Archibald Parry), Trinidad (Welsh) and Barbados (William Proctor Swaby 5). On 5th August, 1905 Walter was granted an honorary Doctor in Divinity degree from Keble College. By strange coincidence, his future son-in-law, William Wallace Cathcart Dunlop (see below) received his B.A. at the same convocation. Five years after his consecration, Walter was obliged to resign the See due to ill health.

It was as Bishop of Antigua that Walter went to Barbados in 1908 to become principal of Codrington College for a short period. In this regard, his son-in-law, William Wallace Cathcart Dunlop (1877–1938), for several years professor of classics at the College, contributed an article about Walter for the Lent Term, 1917, College magazine, in which he wrote:

.... It was as Bishop of Antigua that he came in 1908 to act as Principal of Codrington College. His period of service was short, yet in it he was enabled to effect certain much needed changes in the administration of the College. The grateful appreciation of those who had the advantage of his guidance and instruction during those few months is still a living thing. 6

Walter left Barbados in 1909 for England where he held several posts, including: commissary to the Archbishop of York and assistant bishop in the Diocese of York, 1910, principal of Bishop’s College, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and assistant bishop in the West Indies. In 1910, Walter went to Canada for two years as assistant bishop of Quebec, to assist in the administration of that diocese and later as Archdeacon of St. Francis. In 1912, at the age of forty-seven, after his health had improved, Walter went to British Honduras —firstly as commissary for, and then as Bishop of British Honduras and Central America, a post that he held from 1912–1915. 7 In 1915, Walter returned to England and was appointed to the vicarage of St. John the Baptist Church, 8 Bognor, Sussex.


On January 24th, 1889, Walter was married by Bishop William Piercy Austin to Alice Bridges (1868–1950), eldest daughter of William Francis (‘Francis’) Bridges and Adele Bridges (née Sherlock). They were married in All Saints’ Church, New Amsterdam, Berbice.

Alice was born on March 21st 1868.9 Wm Francis Bridges, J.P., became Administrator General of British Guiana. He owned a mercantile company in New Amsterdam named Bridges & Co. and in 1882 was Manager of Plantation Goldstone Hall in Berbice. Francis was born in New Amsterdam, Berbice and his wife Adele was born in England. The dates of their births and deaths are not precisely known.

Bishop Walter Farrar died on December 6th, 1916 at the comparatively young age of 51, and was buried three days later in Hawthorn Road Cemetery, Bognor Regis, (grave no. 1975). 10

The 1910 edition of Who’s Who records that: ‘Riding is his favourite amusement and as much of his life as a bishop must be spent in a boat, it is well perhaps that he can swim.’ Bishop Walter Farrar, M.A., D.D., was certainly blessed with a sense of humour, but his gentleness concealed a firmness, which he showed on every necessary occasion during his term in high office. He has been described as unaffected, tactful, courteous and dignified. Walter made friends easily, and those who differed with him did so only in opinion. He was a man of scholarly parts and distinguished eloquence, and was a delightful raconteur. The following is an extract from an ‘appreciation’ written a week after his death. 11


The death of Bishop Farrar, at the early age of 51, has evoked widespread sympathy in and beyond the parish of Bognor. He had only been with us for a year, yet so lovable was his character that his passing leaves a deep sense of personal loss to many. He was a great man, trusted by those in authority, and possessed just that breadth of outlook, which is so needed by the Vicar for an important parish. His rank and influence, great as they were, would not have been sufficient to have called forth such regret when he departed this life.

Walter Farrar, Bishop,” was essentially human. He could be very stern, and nothing moved him to deeper anger than oppression or cruelty. Yet, when he had said his say, no one was more ready than he to forgive and forget. He was passionately fond of children and many a Bognor boy or girl will remember his kindly words and gifts.

It was a joy to be with the late Bishop. His gaiety of manner was infectious, and those who have heard his hearty laugh will never forget it. He had a real sense of humour, and keenly enjoyed a joke. He was no killjoy. He frequently attended “the pictures,” often accompanied by his staff.

He was essentially just, though he always tempered justice with mercy. In affairs, he was painstaking and conscientious. He was accessible at all times, and invariably courteous. A story is told of a man who went to the Vicarage to ventilate some grievance. His Lordship met him with, “How are you, my friend? I’m glad to see you,” and shewed him to the most comfortable chair in the room. They had a most interesting conversation, and the man left without saying what he intended.

He was loyal to all with whom he was associated, and frequently allowed himself to be blamed for the faults of others. He was very quick to see an essential point, and his tact never failed. Tact was not synonymous with cowardice to him, for he held firmly to his principles, yet he ever considered the principles of others.

Of his work as a Bishop, little seems to be known here. In the difficult diocese of Honduras, he gallantly stuck to his post until compelled to leave under doctor’s orders. He placed the finances of both Honduras and Antigua on a sound basis. The following story illustrates his wisdom. The whole of the diocese of British Honduras is not under British jurisdiction, and many of the congregation are of mixed nationality. It was customary therefore to pray for various European Sovereigns. One congregation, after the outbreak of war, wanted to pray for the Kaiser. His Lordship solved the delicate problem by ruling that they might pray for “our enemy the Kaiser.”

Those that knew him best were attracted to him by his deep spirituality and earnestness. He always prepared carefully not only his sermons, but every word of the service and lessons. Every detail came under his personal notice and supervision, and nothing was done without his sanction. He firmly believed in, and strongly upheld the Catholic and Evangelical character of the Church of England. His last blessed act was to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

A great man has left us, but his life and influence will remain with us. He died on the Feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop, the Patron Saint of Children. We in Bognor must try to be worthy of one who was indeed a Father in God to us.

H.C.H. [Rev. H. Crawford Hunter]

Unfortunately, little survives about the life of his wife Alice. However, one can rightly assume that she was a truly Christian lady with great inner strength who stood by her husband throughout his distinguished career and lengthy illness. She died in Hastings, Sussex, in September 1950 at the age of 82.


1 The chapels of St. Margaret and St. Mary are in the Parish of St. Saviour, Corentyne, Berbice. They are thirty and fifteen miles distant, respectively, from St. Saviour. Source: Notes on the History of the Church in Guiana, op. cit., pp. 150–151.

2 In 1970, Limpley Stoke became part of the Parish of Freshford, which is slightly closer than Winsley.

3 These two churches are (2003) no longer joined and are several miles apart.

4 Bishop Edward Archibald Parry (see APPENDIX B).

5 Bishop Swaby was formerly Bishop of Guiana 1893–1900

6 Notwithstanding the fact that this article appeared in the College magazine, Walter’s name is not shown in the official list of past principals of Codrington College. According to the present (2003) principal, Canon Noel Titus, he is not aware of any record of Walter being principal of Codrington in 1908 or at all. In a letter to Richard Farrar dated April 29, 2003, alluding to the article referred to above, Canon Titus dismisses the evidence contained therein, and writes: ‘A chance statement, whatever the source, does not constitute evidence’. Instead, in spite of the apparent inconsistency, Canon Titus prefers to rely on the Barbados Diocesan History, by Canons Reece and Clark-Hunt, published in 1925, which does not mention Walter’s short tenure as principal.

7 With jurisdiction over British and Spanish Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Republic of Panama—an area of approximately 293,000 sq. miles and with a population of about 4,492,000.

8 St. John the Baptist Church was demolished in 1972 and St. Wilfrid’s Church in the west area of Bognor Regis succeeded it as the parish church (Bognor became Bognor Regis in 1929).

9 William and Adele Bridges had eleven children, six girls and five boys, ten of whom were born in New Amsterdam, Berbice and one, May Bridges was born in London between 1866 and 1888.

10 Walter would have, no doubt, been amused to learn that, according to an erroneous entry in the register of burials for the Urban District of Bognor and the Parish of Bersted, he had performed a funeral service for a fellow parishioner on the same day as his own!

11 The Appreciation appeared in The Observer and West Sussex Recorder on December 13, 1916.


Walter and Alice had four children and both their sons were awarded the Military Cross for their services in WW1.



Adele Marie Francoise Farrar b 1889 in B.G.; d 1964.


Marriage of Adele Marie Farrar to Canon John Cecil Wippell.
Taken at Codrington College in 1940. Canon Wippell was her second husband and Principal of Codrington College from 1918 to 1945. Her first husband, William Wallace Cathcart Dunlop, who taught classics at Codrington College, drowned in 1938 while swimming at Cattlewash on the Bathsheba coast in Barbados



Alice Irene Farrar b 1891 in B.G.; d in London 1920.



Capt. Walter Frederick Farrar M.C. b 1893 in B.G.

Richard Farrar has advised:

'Sadly, we know very little about Walter other than his war record which speaks for itself. We do know, however, that he went to Trinidad after the war and it was there that he was presented with the Military Cross in 1921 by the then Governor of the Colony, Lt.-Col. Sir John Robert Chancellor, C.B.E., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G., D.S.O. Walter may have died in Trinidad, but that is just an educated guess.'



Capt. Thomas Inniss Farrar M.C. b 1896 in B.G.; 1924 married Lady Sidney Mercer-Henderson (1900-1987), daughter of the Earl and Countess of Buckinghamshire in 1924 at St. George's Church Hanover Square, London; d 1934 (in Nairobi from the effects gas poisoning during WW1).

Marriage press report - Press Article 9 February 1924


Marriage of Captain Thomas Farrar to Lady Sidney Mercer-Henderson
at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, Mayfair on 14 January 1924



Possible Family Connections to Frederic Farrar, Dean of Canterbury

This brings us to the interesting question whether Walter Farrar is in any way related to the Very Rev. Frederic William Farrar, DD, (1831–1903) dean of Canterbury.


Very Rev. Frederic William Farrar, DD, (1831–1903) Dean of Canterbury 1895-1903
Memorial in Canterbury Cathedral placed there by his son Eric (of Eric, or Little by Little fame)


Although the 1916 Who’s Who claims that Walter is a son of the dean of Canterbury, in Kelly's Handbook of the same year states that Walter is the son of archdeacon Thomas Farrar.

Via the Oxford and Cambridge Alumni we have discovered 4 of the sons of Frederic William Farrar

  1. Reginald Anstruther F. first son. He went to Keble, Oxford, and matriculated 19 Oct 1880, aged 19

  2. Eric Maurice F. b Jan 12 1866; Pembroke, Cambridge.

  3. Frederic Percival F.; b Oct 11 1871. Pembroke, Cambridge.

  4. Ivor Granville F. Youngest son; b Sep 14 1874. Pembroke, Cambridge.

The fifth son was a mystery until Richard Farrar, who with Helen Nedham and Tim Smellie have helped immeasurably with the research on this web page,  found the missing name for us (Cyril Lytton Farrar) and confirmed the names of the Dean's ten children in order of birth:

  1. Reginald Anstruther Farrar

  2. Evelyn Lucy Farrar

  3. Hilda Cardew Farrar

  4. Maud Farrar [who married Bishop Sir Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (1847–1932) and their son, Field-Marshall Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., G.C.B., D.S.O. (1887–1976), was the renowned World War II British army commander]

  5. Rev Eric Maurice Farrar

  6. Sybil Farrar

  7. Cyril Lytton Farrar

  8. Lillian Farrar

  9. Rev. Percival Farrar

  10. Rev. Ivor Grenville Farrar  

So the remaining question was whether Walter’s father the Ven. Archdeacon Thomas Farrar B.D. son of James Farrar (from Leeds) was in any way connected to the Very Rev. Frederic William Farrar, DD, dean of Canterbury and son of Charles Pinhorn Farrar?

Charles Pinhorn Farrar was baptised on 12th Feb. 1799 at All Saints, Wakefield, and his father was John Farrar. So far no direct (blood line) link has been identified between the families of James (Leeds) and John (Wakefield).

However, Helen Nedham has very kindly identified a connection involving Walter's sister in law Edith Celia Packard, wife of his younger brother Alfred Farrar, whose grandfather Walton Turner had a sister Caroline Turner, mother of Frederick William Farrar, the famous Dean! If this is all a little complicated the family connection is shown below with Walter and the Dean highlighted in red (click  picture for a clearer pdf):

Research into possible direct blood-links between the two Farrar families will no doubt continue! For the time being Richard Farrar and Helen Nedham have recorded the following statement in the latest update of their book:

Some members of the family, past and present, have claimed that Frederic William Farrar, D.D., F.R.S., (1831–1903) [Archdeacon of Westminster, Dean of Canterbury from 1895–1903, Chaplain in Ordinary to Queen Victoria, author (The Life of Christ; The Life and Works of St. Paul; Early Days of Christianity; Julian Home, A Tale of College Life; the schoolboy story of Eric, or Little by Little, and others)] and Archdeacon Thomas Farrar are related because of their Yorkshire roots. Although such claims may have merit, no proof of any direct blood link has yet been discovered. However, we now know that there is an indirect connection between the two families arising from the marriage of Edith Celia Packard (1871–1962) and ALFRED FARRAR. Celia Packard’s mother, Lady Ellen Packard (née Turner), (d. 1927) had an aunt named Caroline Turner, who married the Reverend Charles Pinhorn Farrar (1799–1877). Charles Pinhorn Farrar was the father of Dean Farrar, as he is generally known. Dean Farrar’s daughter, Maud Farrar (1847–1949), married Bishop Sir Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (1847–1932) and their son, Field-Marshall Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., G.C.B., D.S.O. (1887–1976), was the renowned World War II British army commander.

If anyone has any information that could link the two Farrar families please let us know.


Further Links with Guiana

One surprise discovery when we cleared all the weeds around Walter’s grave plot was that the grave adjoining the Alice Beatie (daughter of the bishop) grave, and looking at the graves the grave to the left, was that of Emma Louisa Piercy Stevenson who died on April 19th 1932 aged 71 years. She was the daughter of Francis James Wyatt, Archdeacon of Demerara and wife of Philip Arthur Stevenson, Canon of St. George’s Cathedral, British Guiana.


Overgrown plots Emma Louisa Piercy Stevenson plot 1977


A copy of an obituary for Emma Stevenson dated 25th April, 1932 has been kindly provided by Richard Farrar:

25th April, 1932 -The death occurred at Bognor Regis on Tuesday of Mrs. Stevenson, widow of Canon Philip Arthur Stevenson, of Demerara. She was the eldest daughter of the late Ven. Francis J. Wyatt, B.D., Archdeacon of Demerara, was married to Canon Stevenson in 1881, and was with him in Demerara for the greater part of his long ministry there. Later Canon Stevenson did duty in various English parishes, including Redbourn, Stoke Poges, and Sidcup. Mrs. Stevenson, like her husband, lived a life of true unselfishness and was beloved by all who knew her. Her eldest son, Mr. F.P. Stevenson, is a housemaster at Redley college, while her eldest daughter ("Lassie") is married to Commander Norman C. Moore, D.S.O., M.V.O., R.N.

The 1913 Crockford’s Clerical Directory shows that Philip Arthur Stevenson was rector of St. Paul’s, Demerara from 1884-1908 and it will be noted that the 6 youngest children of Walter’s parents starting with his brother Piercy (b 1873) through to his youngest sister Edith (b 1882) were all born at the same St. Paul’s rectory, Sparendaam (Plaisance), on the Demerara coast (approximately 5 miles east of Georgetown - see the map below ).




St. Paul's Church, Plaisance, East Coast, Demerara


Mr. Richard Farrar has advised us that according to Archdeacon Thomas Farrar’s book Notes on the History of the Church in Guiana, Rev Philip Arthur Stevenson (later Canon) was Rector of St. Paul’s, in 1884 and succeeded Thomas Farrar in that position after Thomas was appointed one of the first Canons of St George’s Cathedral.

It would seem therefore that the two families would have known each other very well. This might explain  how Philip's wife (just 4 years older than Walter) being buried alongside the Farrar graves in Bognor Regis 16 years after Walter’s death came about and possibly the result of action by Walter's widow Alice. 

Mr Tim Smellie has also been able to clarify that though not actually related, it seems that the Wyatt and Austin families knew each other well. Charles Guy Austin Wyatt, doubtless a son of Ven. Francis Wyatt, was given Austin as a forename. Also Francis’ daughter, Emma had a forename of Piercy, the surname of Bishop Austin’s mother.

Tim has been able to provide the following wedding details of Emma to Philip:

“STEVENSON-WYATT.- On the 6th October, 1881, at the Pro­Cathedral, Georgetown, Demerara, by the Rev. W.G.G. Austin, M.A. , Chaplain to the Bishop of Guiana, the Rev. Philip Stevenson, M.A., examining Chaplain to the late Bishop of Worcester and Hon. Canon of Worcester Cathedral, to Emma Louisa Piercy, eldest daughter of the Ven. Francis J. Wyatt, B.D., Rector of St George’s, Georgetown, and Archdeacon of Demerara.”



St George’s Pro-Cathedral 1877-92
The temporary Pro-Cathedral erected in the grounds of the Deanery at the north-west corner of the Church and Carmichael Streets, Georgetown, 1877-92. The previous St. George's Cathedral [1842-1877] foundations were inadequate for the brick structure and the building was condemned as unsafe in 1877 and dismantled. The Pro-Cathedral was in use until the present St. George’s Cathedral was opened in 1892.


Clearly St. George's Cathedral features prominently in this remarkable story emanating from Guiana and the new St. George's Cathedral that was opened in 1892 to replace the pro-Cathedral has a most surprising link with Bognor besides the association of both places with Walter Farrar - St. John's Church that Walter was vicar of and the new St. George's Cathedral were designed by the same celebrated architect Sir. Arthur William Blomfield (1829-1899) - just six years after St. John's church was consecrated (1886).



circ. 1955-6



The Present St George's Cathedral, Georgetown, British Guiana/Guyana:

‘The foundation-stone of the building, which was designed by Sir A. Blomfield, was laid in 1889, and in 1892 Bishop Austin, Primate of the West Indies, celebrated his jubilee as a bishop and officiated in the Cathedral for the first time. A special feature of the fabric is its immense height, which is well calculated to show off to advantage the magnificent timber of the colony of which it is constructed. The altar rails were the gift of Professor Austin of Salt Lake City. The lectern was given by the Church of Barbados on the occasion of Bishop Austin’s jubilee. The Gothic Shrine made of carved oak in the north-west transept was dedicated in 1930 to the memory of Bishop William Piercy Austin and his successor, as Bishop of Guiana, Bishop W. P. Swaby.’

[Source: ‘The Pocket Guide to the West Indies’ by Sir Algernon Aspinall., C.M.G., C.B.E., published by Sifton, Praed & Co., Ltd., London, New & Revised Edition 1931, First Published in 1907]


Tim Smellie kindly provided an article about the new cathedral which included a section about the architect:

Plans and designs were invited and those of Mr F.J. Cockerill for a building after the Italian style were almost accepted, but he died before approval was given. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge introduced Mr Arthur Blomfield (later Sir Arthur Blomfield, a gold medalist of the Royal Institute of British Archi­tects). His first plans were for a building in stone with a central tower and two western towers, but these were rejected because of the weight and the expense. Blomfield sent out a soil architect to advise on the foundations, but his findings were not respected by the Colony's leading engineers and the Vestry. Blomfield himself never visited British Guiana. If he had experienced tropical rain, it is doubtful whether he would have created so many gulleys in the roof structure, the cause of many problems. Finally his drawings for a wooden Cathedral were accepted and some of his original working drawings dated 1888 are still in existence.

Sir Arthur Blomfield's designs were just two years after St. John's was consecrated but the article above confirms that he never actually visited British Guiana  (the reference to rain problems with the roof suggests that he should!) and as he died in 1899, sixteen years before Walter Farrar moved to Bognor, it seems improbable that Walter was aware of the Cathedral architect's earlier project at the church where he ended his days as vicar.

Why the Parish of Bognor?

So why did Walter Farrar resign his bishopric of Bishop of British Hondurus and Central America in 1915 and come to England to end his much travelled and illustrious ecclesiastical career as vicar of the Parish of Bognor ? It may be that by 1915 he was very aware of his failing health and if there was a vacancy at Bognor this would have been attractive as the seaside town was known for its therapeutic sea-air qualities - a quality that led in 1928 to king George V's convalescence at Craigweil House, Aldwick, Bognor and which resulted in the Regis title on the king's successful recovery.

After spending a  great deal of his life in the West Indies it would not have been unusual  in those days for him to have contracted a tropical disease but his death certificate records that he died of liver cancer and exhaustion.

Of one thing we can be fairly sure, it is very unlikely that the Parish will ever again have to record a vicar with such an interesting and travelled career and it is a great pity that his tenure was so short. As the Rev. H. Crawford Hunter recorded at his passing -

'A great man has left us, but his life and influence will remain with us. He died on the Feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop, the Patron Saint of Children. We in Bognor must try to be worthy of one who was indeed a Father in God to us'

John Hawkins and Peter Green




Another interesting find during the Hawthorn Rd. cemetery visit to Walter Farrar's grave was to learn that the grave immediately to the right of Walter’s grave is that of Rev. John Joseph Priestly (plot 1973) who died on 8th August 1915 and was vicar of Bognor from 1913 – 1915.