Farrer, Thomas Henry Farrer

FARRER, THOMAS HENRY FARRER, 1st Baron (1819-1899), English civil servant and statistician, was the son of Thomas Farrer, a solicitor in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Born in London on the 24th of June 1819, he was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1840. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1844, but retired from practice in the course of a few years. He entered the public service in 1850 as secretary to the naval (renamed in 1853 the marine) department of the Board of Trade. In 1865 he was promoted to be one of the joint secretaries of the Board of Trade, and in 1867 became permanent secretary. His tenure of this office, which he held for upwards of twenty years, was marked by many reforms and an energetic administration. Not only was he an advanced Liberal in politics, but an uncompromising Free-trader of the strictest school. He was created a baronet for his services at the Board of Trade in 1883, and in 1886 he retired from office. During the same year he published a work entitled Free Trade versus Fair Trade, in which he dealt with an economic controversy then greatly agitating the public mind. He had already, in 1883, written a volume on The State in its Relation to Trade. In 1889 he was co-opted by the Progressives an alderman of the London County Council, of which he became vice-chairman in 1890. His efficiency and ability in this capacity were warmly recognized; but in the course of time divergencies arose between his personal views and those of many of his colleagues. The tendency towards socialistic legislation which became apparent was quite at variance with his principles of individual enterprise and responsibility. He consequently resigned his position. In 1893 he was raised to the peerage. From this time forward he devoted much of his energy and leisure to advocating his views at the Cobden Club, the Political Economy Club, on the platform, and in the public press. Especially were his efforts directed against the opinions of the Fair Trade League, and upon this and other controversies on economic questions he wrote able, clear, and uncompromising letters, which left no doubt that he still adhered to the doctrines of free trade as advocated by its earliest exponents. In 1898 he published his Studies in Currency. He died at Abinger Hall, Dorking, on the 11th of October 1899. He was succeeded in the title by his eldest son Thomas Cecil (b. 1859).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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