The Barony borne by the present Lord Farrer was bestowed on his father, the late, Baron, 1895, in recognition of his long and distinguished services to his country in a political capacity. The late Lord Farrer, who was permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade, was a great authority on all questions of political economy, and as a results of his studies in that direction, his Lordship was a confirmed Free Trader. Ten years previously to the bestowal of a baronacy on Thomas Henry Farrer he had been created a Baronet.
Of the Farrer family the historian Thoresby tells us that it "like many others, has been too remiss in a timely preservation of the memoirs of their predecessors". The branch of his family represented by Lord Farrer derived from a common root with the Farrers of Ingleborough in Yorkshire, since the grandfather of the late Lord Farrer (who was descended in the fifth degree from Henry Farrer, Esq., Eawood Hall, Halifax, who was lord of the manor of Wortley) was father of James William Farrer, Esq., of Ingleborough. Thomas Cecil, the present Lord Farrer, is the eldest son of the late Baron by his wife Frances, daughter of the late William Erskine, Esq., I.G.S. Born in 1859 he succeeded his father in his title and estates at the age of forty. In the year following the completion of his studies as Balliol College, Oxford, (where he graduated B.A. and M.A. in 1895) Mr. Farrer, as he then was, was selected by the Government to accompany Major Marindin in his inspection of railways in Egypt, and the subject of railway transport has since much occupied much of his time and attention; whilst his special knowledge in this direction has caused him to be frequently consulted, both in America elsewhere, on questions concerning railways.
Lord Farrer married in 1892 Evelyn Mary, daughter of the late Hon. Thomas Charles William Spring-Rice, and in the next year a son and heir was born to him, Cecil Claude. In 1903 Lord Farrer married secondly Evangeline, youngest daughter of Octavius Newry Knox Esq., and has issue.
Abinger Hall, Lord Farrer's beautiful seat in Surrey, is a commodious mansion which has taken the place of several previous houses. Many years ago the property was in possession of a family called Dibble, who owned a house known as Danielle here; but after the death of the first Earl of Donegal in the War of the Spanish Succession in l706, his widow purchased the estate and resided there during the minority of her son.
Later, the first Marquis of Donegal sold it to Captain Pitts of the Engineers, in whose day the house belonging to the property was known as Paddington House. He re-built the mansion which was then on the site of what is now the cricket ground, and a curious leaden tablet has since been found in the foundations, showing the date of its erection to be November 18th. 1785.
From Captain Pitts the property passed in 1797 to Commodore Robinson, whose executors disposed of it after his death to Mr. Shardon, and in 1814 it came into the possession of Sir. James Scarlett, the famous attorney-general and noted lawyer, who on being raised to the peerage in 1855, took his title of Lord Abinger from his place of residence. Sir. James Scarlett made many further alterations to the house, of which when in his possession we read that it was adorned with twelve pillars of the Doric order, and had a terrace in front which commanded a view over the Park and the cascade of the river Tillingbourne in the valley below, whilst the pleasure grounds lay to the west of the house, and on the north it was sheltered by a high and thick laurel.
Passing through the hands of Mr. Gwynne, who purchased Abinger Hall in 1867, it came to the father of its present owner in 1869, who three years later built the delightful residence that is to be seen to-day.
The Farrers have done much for the village of Abinger, in which neighbourhood Lord Farrer is a large landowner. The cost building one of the schools in the village was born by the late Lord Farrer, who was on the roll of Deputy Lieutenants and Justices of the Peace for Surrey, for which County the present Lord Farrer also acts as a Magistrate.
Many traces of the Roman occupation are to be found in Surrey and in 1877 the remains of a Roman villa of no size were unearthed near Abinger Hall, and many coins of Constantine the Great and his family were discovered; but the Roman mosaic floors suffered from exposure to the air and possibly from the fact that Dr. Darwin chose this spot in which to conduct some of his observations on earth-worms so that to-day the remains are of little value though they are now protected.
Lord Farrer is a member of the New University and National Liberal Clubs.
Extract from "Surrey Historical, Biographical and Pictorial (1913)"