William Farrar (settler)
William Farrar (April 1583 – c. 1637) was an early settler, landholder, and legislator of the Colony of Virginia. He was a subscriber to the third charter of the Virginia Company who emigrated to the colony in 1618. After surviving the Powhatan surprise attack of 1622, he moved to Jordan's Journey. In the following year, Farrar became involved in North America's first breach of promise suit when he proposed to Cecily Jordan. In 1626, Farrar was appointed to the Council of Virginia where he served as an advisor to the royal governor, a judge of the highest court in the colony, and a member of the Virginia General Assembly of Colonial Jamestown. He was also appointed magistrate of the upper James River community. In both these roles, he served as a voice of the early planters' interest as the colony transitioned from being managed by the Virginia Company and becoming a royal colony under Charles I of England. Farrar was also on the Council when it arrested Governor John Harvey for misgovernance and forced his temporary return to England. By the time of his death around 1637, Farrar had sold off his remaining assets in England and established rights to a 2000 acre patent on Farrar's Island, located on a curl of the James River.
Croxton, Lincolnshire, England
|Occupation||Councillor - Council of Virginia and Virginia General Assembly|
William Farrar was born before April 28, 1583, the date of his christening, in Croxton, Lincolnshire, England. He was the 3rd son of John Farrar of Croxton and London, Esquire, a wealthy merchant and landowner with various holdings in West Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Hertfordshire. Alexander Brown states that while in England, William Farrar received an education in law.
Relation to the Virginia Company and emigration to the New WorldEdit
When Farrar went to Virginia, it was still part of the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock company, sanctioned by Royal Charter. Farrar was a subscriber to the Third Charter of the Virginia Company, where his name appears as "William Ferrers". His subscription consisted of three shares that were bought for a total of £37 10s.[note 1]. Farrar also had family interests in the Virginia Company as two of his second cousins, the brothers John Ferrar and Nicholas Ferrar, played key roles in the managing the company's interests.:60
Farrar left London on Neptune on March 16, 1617/18 [note 2] along with Virginia's governor, Thomas West, Baron De La Warr. De La Warr had been commissioned by the Virginia Company to return to the colony with fresh people and supplies to help it achieve political and economic stability,:375–384 but he died en route. When Farrar arrived in August 1618, news of the governor's death threw Jamestown into turmoil, Deputy Governor Samuel Argall, who was already unpopular with many colonists, was accused of mismanagement and the unauthorized misappropriation of Neptune's passengers and cargo. After a prolonged series of accusations from both the Virginia Company and colonists against Argall's governing, he finally stepped down in April 1619.
In June 1619, the Virginia Company instructed that 40 indentured servants be put at the disposal of Farrar when they arrived in Virginia.:145 The payment for the cost of transporting these colonists would have resulted in a 2000 acre headright at 50 acres a head. However, Garland never arrived in Jamestown because it was damaged in a hurricane while en route.:6 Instead of proceeding to Virginia, the Garland's captain, William Wye left the remaining passengers in Bermuda and sailed the repaired ship directly back to England.:325
As his personal headright, Farrar did receive a land patent for 100 acres on the Appomattox River close to where it flows into the James River, near what is now known as Hopewell, Virginia.:554 In the meantime, the resultant legal suits between Wye and the Virginia Company regarding the financial responsibility for the Garland fiasco were not resolved until the end of 1622,:5:701–702 when Farrar had already quit residence at his patent as a result of the Powhatan surprise attack of 1621/22.
Move to Jordan's Journey and marriageEdit
During the Powhatan surprise attack, ten settlers on Farrar's land on the Appomattox River were killed.:566 However, Farrar survived and got to Samuel Jordan's settlement at Beggars Bush,:4 part of the plantation known as Jordan's Journey. After the attack, William Farrar stayed at Jordan's Journey:290–291 as it had become a relatively safe fortified rallying place for the survivors.
Samuel Jordan died before June 1623.:46 Sometime afterward, Farrar proposed marriage to Jordan's pregnant widow, Cecily, which involved him in the first breach of promise suit filed in North America.:218–220 Reverend Greville Pooley claimed he had first proposed marriage three or four days after Samuel Jordan had died and Cecily had accepted. However, Cecily denied his proposal and accepted Farrar's, which resulted in Pooley filing the suit. The case continued for almost two years. During the suit, Alexander Brown suggests that Farrar may have acted as Cecily's legal representative. Eventually, Pooley signed an agreement in January 1624/5 that acquitted Cecily Jordan of her alleged former promises.:42
Even as the case was ongoing, William Farrar and Cecily Jordan continued to work together at Jordan's Journey. In November 1623, Farrar was bonded to execute Samuel Jordan's will regarding the management of his estate and Cecily Jordan was warranted to put down the security to guarantee Farrar's bondage.:8 During this time, "Farrar assumed the role of plantation 'commander' or 'head of hundred'":10 for Jordan's Journey. A year later, the Jamestown muster of 1624/25 lists "fferrar William mr & Mrs. Jordan"[sic] as sharing the head of a Jordan's Journey household with three daughters and ten manservants. During this time, Jordan's Journey prospered.:67–68 By May 1625 Farrar and Jordan were finally married, as it was then that Farrar was released from his bond to Jordan's estate.:57 They had three children together: Cecily (born 1625), William (birth year uncertain), and John (born around 1632).
Roles in the governance of the royal colonyEdit
On March 14, 1625/6, William Farrar was appointed councillor to the Council of Virginia by Charles I of England, a position he held until at least 1635 when Governor John Harvey was deported.:212–213
Farrar became a councillor during a period of uncertainty for the colonists.:13,35 The 1619 Great Charter of the Virginia Company had established self-governance through the Virginia Assembly, but James I dissolved the charter in 1624, and put the colony under direct royal authority. Just before James I died in March 1625, Charles I announced his intention to be the sole factor of his royal colonies. To this end, he commissioned a new structure, consisting of a governor, George Yeardley, and 13 councillors, including William Farrar, to govern the royal colony on behalf of the Crown's interest. Because the assembly was not included in the commission, the Council was the only legal body representing the interests of the Virginia planters.:180 This state of affairs continued until the petitions of the colonists allowed the continuance of the House of Burgesses and the re-convention of the Virginia Assembly in 1628. The Council also functioned as the highest court in Virginia and as the advisory board to the governor regarding the creation of legislative acts. Just as importantly, the members of the Council could determine the fate of the governor: William Farrar was on the Council when it elected John Pott as governor in 1628:182 and he was on the Council  when it arrested and temporarily deported Governor Harvey.
In August 1626, Farrar was also appointed commissioner (i.e., magistrate) of the "Upper Partes"[sic], which lies along the James River west of Piersey's Hundred in the approximate area of Charles City and Henrico Counties today. Farrar was one of six commissioners appointed, however he was the one given the right of final judgement when present and allowed the discretion to hold monthly courts at either Jordan's Journey or Shirley Hundred.
Sale of inheritanceEdit
When William Farrar's father, John the elder, died sometime before May 1628, he willed his various landholdings in Hertfordshire to William. In addition, John Farrar also stipulated that William and his family receive a £20 annuity from his older brother from rents in Halifax Parish, Yorkshire and that William receive £50 upon his return to England. In 1631, William Farrar returned to England to claim his inheritance. He then sold the assets from his inheritance to his brothers, including his annuity for £240 and his landholdings for £200, for a total of £440[note 3] and returned to Virginia.
At the time of his death sometime before June 11, 1637, Farrar established his headright to a 2000 acre land patent at the former site of Henrico. This headright was given for the transport of 40 indentured servants, who were named in the patent.[note 4] After Farrar's death, the patent was received in his oldest son's name,[note 5] also named William, from John Harvey, who had returned from England and resumed his role as governor of the colony. The patent was issued for land that included the entire curl of the James River now known as Farrar's Island and extended north to abut the glebe lands of Varina.
- This is equivalent to the annual wages of approximately five skilled journeymen in London during 1588, when those wages were authorized to range between £4 and £10. 
- Dual dating is given because the English new year did not begin until March 25 during the time Virginia was colonized. See article on dating English historical records for details.
- Farrar's liquidation of his English assets earned the equivalent value of the annual wages for approximately 60 skilled London journeymen at 1588 prices.
- At least nine of the names on the patent match the names of survivors in the Muster of 1624/25; five being listed as part of William Farrar and Mrs. Jordan's household.
- William Farrar's son was less than 12 years old at the time the patent was given.
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- Stanard, William G., ed. (1900-1902) The "Farrar Family" Excursus in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
- "The Farrar Family". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 7 (3): 319–322. 1900. JSTOR 4242269.,
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 7 (4): 432–434. 1900. JSTOR 4242292.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 8 (1): 97–98. 1900. JSTOR 4242320.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 8 (2): 206–209. 1900. JSTOR 4242337.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 8 (4): 424–427. 1901. JSTOR 4242386.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 9 (2): 203–205. 1901. JSTOR 4242430.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 9 (3): 322–324. 1902. JSTOR 4242449.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 10 (1): 86–87. 1902. JSTOR 4242488.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 10 (2): 206–207. 1902. JSTOR 4242519.
- "The Farrar Family (Continued)". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 10 (3): 308–310. 1902. JSTOR 4242543..
(Note: The Vol. 7(4) entry in the excursus is incorrect on William Farrar's lineage. See "Torrence et al., 1942". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 50 (4): 350–359. 1942. JSTOR 4245205. referenced above.)