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FARRE, Frederic John (1804-1886)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0113 MS-FARRF
Held at: Royal College of Physicians
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Full title: FARRE, Frederic John (1804-1886)
Date(s): [1883]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 4 volumes (1 oversize); 3 notebooks
Name of creator(s): Farre | Frederic John | 1804-1886 | physician


Administrative/Biographical history:

Frederic John Farre was born in Charterhouse Square, London, on 16 December 1804, the son of John Richard Farre, physician. He was educated at Charterhouse, where he was gold medalist in 1821, and school captain in 1822. He obtained a scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA with first class honours in Mathematics in 1827, and MA in 1830. During this time he undertook his medical studies at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London (St Barts).

In 1831 Farre was appointed lecturer on botany at St Barts. In 1836 he was appointed assistant physician to the hospital. He graduated MD in 1837. In 1838 he was elected fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and became closely involved with the work of the College. He was censor there in 1841 and 1842, and from 1843-45 he lectured on materia medica. From 1843, until his death, he was physician to the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital. He was also physician to Charterhouse and to the Rock Assurance Office. Furthermore, Farre conducted a private practice based at his residence in Montague Street, Russell Square, and later in Pimlico.

He was a member of the council of the Royal College of Physicians from 1846-48. In 1854 he became full physician and lecturer on materia medica at St Barts, on which subject he became an authority. In the same year he served again as censor for the College. Farre became an examiner for the College, 1861-62, and an examiner in materia medica for the University of London.

He was one of the editors of the first British Pharmacopoeia (1864), and the following year was involved in editing an abridged version of Jonathan Pereira's Elements of Materia Medica (1865). In 1866 he published a paper on the `Treatment of Acute Pericarditis with Opium' in the St Bartholomew's Hospital Reports, which recommends the disuse of the then popular but injurious mercurial treatment.

He served a second time as councillor and as an examiner of the Royal College of Physicians, from 1866-67, and was treasurer there from 1868-83. In 1870 he retired from his position as physician at St Barts, although he continued to lecture there for another six years.

Upon his resignation as treasurer of the College, in 1883, he presented the College with a manuscript history of its proceedings, compiled by himself. He finally became vice-president there in 1885.

He had married Julia Lewis in 1848 and they had two daughters. He died in his home at Kensington on 9 November 1886, at the age of 81.

Manual of Materia Medica and Therapeutics: Being an Abridgement of the Elements of Materia Medica, Jonathan Pereira, F.J. Farre, R. Bentley & R. Warington (London, 1865)


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Frederic John Farre's, [1883], consist of his unpublished history of the Royal College of Physicians, 1518-1824, in his hand, [1883]; Notes for his history of the College, [1883]; Scrapbook of drawings, maps, plans and photographs to illustrate his history of the College, [1883].

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

All requests should be referred to the Archivist

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Provenance of the collection is unknown

Allied Materials

Related material:

There are copies and extracts of Farre's history of the College held elsewhere in the College archives, typescript, early-mid 20th century (MS2198; MS2314/1-3).

There is a large amount of material amongst the College archives relating to Farre, particularly to his role as treasurer, including correspondence and accounts regarding the College's portrait, book and manuscript collections, 1868-80 (MS2000/31; MS2003/35/110; MS2004/24, 69, 81, 90; MS2010/43); Notes by Farre in the Treasurer's Memorandum, 1868 (MS2088); Correspondence regarding the move of the College to Pall Mall East, 1871-78 (MS1096/1; MS1098/45); Correspondence regarding College property, particularly regarding the collection of rent and the upkeep of the Burmarsh estate, 1872-83 (MS2006/30, 32-34, 47-49, 51, 52-63; MS2009/34, 36, 38-40, 50-51); Letters addressed to him about the Bradshaw Lectures, 1880 (MS1014/2-3); Receipt sent to Farre for restoration of memorial tablets in the old church, Chelsea, 1880 (MS2010/43); Correspondence regarding the Harvey Memorial Ceremony, 1882-83 (MS1024/219, 244).

There is also material relating to other professional roles Farre had, such as lecturer and member of the College, including a card admitting William Baly to Farre's lectures at St Barts, c.1831-34 (MS-BALYW716/116); Testimonial for George Henslow, signed by Farre, 1868 (MS1001/82); Statutes of the College translated into English by Farre, mid-late 19th century (MS2012/81-85); Note by Farre in Daniel Whistler's cash book, 1682-84, on the provenance of the book, late 19th century (MS2075); Biographical material relating to Farre's family history, 1964 (MS760/134-140). There are also a few of Farre's letters amongst the College's Autographed Letters Collection (ALS).

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Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XVIII, Leslie Stephen (ed.) (London, 1889) [DNB, 1889, pp.229-30]; Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London, Vol. IV, 1826-1925, compiled by G.H. Brown (London, 1955) [Munk's Roll, 1955, pp.18-19]; `Obituary - Frederic John Farre', The Lancet, Vol. II 1886, pp.1003-04; `Obituary - Frederick John Farre', British Medical Journal, Vol. II 1886, pp.1001-02.
Compiled by Katharine Martin

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Compiled October 2003

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