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Papers of Sir George Farrar and family


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  1. Photographs, correspondence, newspaper cuttings relating to mining activities in South Africa, 1871-1929
  2. Telegrams, newspaper cuttings, photographs, etc. concerning the Jameson Raid, 1896
  3. Maps, correspondence, etc. relating to the South African War, [1899-1906]
  4. Correspondence, newspaper cuttings, cartoons, etc. relating to political career, 1903-1915
  5. Visitors' book from Farrar's farm during the South African War, with cartoon sketches, postcards, etc., 1900-1902
  6. Correspondence, newspaper cuttings and photographs relating to social and family activities, including accounts of a journey to the Victoria Falls, 1900-1919
  7. Correspondence, photographs, telegraphs, newspaper cuttings, etc. concerning field of service in World War One and his subsequent death and funeral, including household inventory, will and related papers, 1909-1975
  8. Biographical notebooks, c1915-1919
  9. Personal and family photographs, c1864-1920
  10. Newspaper cuttings concerning members of the Farrar family and Benoni, the township founded by Sir George Farrar, 1904-1982
  11. Miscellaneous items, 1908-c1970


  • c1864-1982


21 boxes

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Afr. s. 2175].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Afr. s. 2175

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 1795

Biographical / Historical

Sir George Farrar (1859-1915) was educated at Bedford Modern School before entering his uncle's engineering firm (Howard, Farrar and Co.). In 1879 he travelled to South Africa to represent the firm in the Cape. The discovery of goldfields in the Transvaal led him to move to the Witwatersrand in 1886. Seven years later he established the East Rand Proprietary Mine (ERPM) company. In 1893 he married Ella Mabel Waylen, with whom he had six daughters

The lack of political representation in the Transvaal for 'uitlanders' (English settlers) caused Farrar to become a leading member of the Reform Committee. The organisation was implicated in the Uitlander Risings in Johannesburg (timed to co-ordinate with the Jameson Raids of 1896), after which he was sentenced to death, though the sentence was later commuted to fines and a three year ban on political participation.

During the South African War of 1899-1902 he was a major on the Colonial Division staff, responsible for intelligence-gathering. For his work during the conflict he was knighted and awarded the DSO. In 1902 he was elected President of the Transvaal Chamber of Mines, though he resigned the presidency in 1904 to return to a career in politics.

In 1905 he was elected president of the Transvaal Progressive Association and won the seat for Boksburg East in Transvaal's first general election, 1907. After his election he was appointed Leader of the Opposition to Botha's government. He campaigned for the unification of the South African colonies and later merged his Progressive Party with Jameson's Cape Unionists to form the Unionist Party. In 1910 he was elected member of Parliament for Georgetown (Johannesburg) in the first elections of the Union of South Africa. The following year he was created a baronet. He retired from politics in 1911 in order to deal with management problems at ERPM.

In World War One he was appointed Assistant Quarter-Master General for the campaign in German South West Africa, with responsibility for rebuilding the sabotaged railway line through the desert so that South African troops could advance. He died in 1915 from injuries sustained in an accident on the railway.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available in the library reading room.

Custodial History

The papers are listed as being stored in the muniment room of the Lowther (nr. Penrith) office of Lowther Estate Management Services in 1977, under the ownership of Lord Lonsdale, Farrar's grandson.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated to the Library in 1994 by three of Sir George Farrar’s descendants: George Turner (son of Helen, Farrar’s eldest daughter), James Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale (son of Muriel, Farrar’s second daughter) and Ella, Lady Watson, the youngest of Farrar’s daughters.

Related Materials

Seven typewritten chapters of Farrar's memoirs, relating to the foundation of his family firm of mining engineers, his part in the Johannesburg Reform Movement and imprisonment after the Jameson Raid, with associated letters on South African politics, etc., 1893-1952 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1737).
Papers of Sir George Farrar and family
Paul Davidson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom