The spelling 

Is it "Farmar," or is it really "Farmer"?  The reason that most of the members of this family spell their name with “-ar” at the end is not known.  The earliest reference for Thomas F. Farmar in the current research is in the church records for his marriage to Grace Broadley in 1787.  The parish record for their marriage at Grace's home parish in Ringwould, Kent, shows the original signatures of the couple.  Thomas clearly wrote "Thomas Farmar."  His son Broadley Farmar also signed his name clearly with an -ar for his marriage to Hannah Bishop in Dover in 1815. 

A family monument in the churchyard of the Eythorne Baptist Chapel in Eythorne (near Dover) shows all members of Thomas and Grace's family with the '-ar'  spelling.  One of the names was originally carved with an “E”, but the character was altered in the stone to resemble an “A” with a diagonal line carved across the “E” from top left to bottom right. 

The fact that  “Farmer” carved in stone had to be corrected would confirm that the “-ar” is intentional, and not left over from the days when no one knew how to spell or cared about spelling standardization.  Note that the preference for “Farmar-with-an-a” is not as clear among members of the New Zealand family who are descended from Edward Farmer Eaton.  Edward’s middle name is often spelled Farmer in the records.  Edward (born in 1827) left England for New Zealand in 1852. 

Note also that the pronunciation of “Farmar” varies. Among the Farmar descendants in California in the twentieth century, some are using FAR-mar (emphasis on the first syllable) and others used far-MAR (emphasis on the second syllable). 

Name Origin

The origin of the surname Farmar is usually linked to the names Farmer, Fermer and Fermor in surname dictionaries.  The origins of the name go back to the Norman conquest.  The meaning of the name is a surprise for many – the “farmer” was a tax collector.  He farmed the people, not the land.

There are many Farmar families in the British Isles.. There is an Irish family with the Farmar name in the peerage publications and a Farmar who settled in Pennsylvania in the United States as part of the original settlement group with William Penn. Currently there are several Farmar families in North America, but no ancestral connections have been found among them. The name is prominent currently among sports fans in the United States because of a professional basketball player with the Farmar surname.  As far as I know, he has no ties to this Farmar family tree. 

Numerous attempts to locate parents and relatives for a Thomas F. Farmar, born about 1763, in eighteenth century England have not yet been successful. Part of the difficulty in finding records for this family is that they were a non-conformist Baptist family. Many non-conformist groups did not maintain parish records with the same consistency as is found for the Church of England.  In the search for a family for Thomas, the two most promising leads to date are families in Kent at Headcorn and in Saffordshire.  The Kent family seemed promising because they are also a Baptist family, but there was no Thomas born at the right time.  The Staffordshire family was promising because there was a Thomas Farmar born there in the early 1760s. However, no link has been found for this Thomas to County Kent, which is in the south of England, a long distance from Staffordshire.  In Kent, a search of eighteenth century records for Farmer families in Folkestone and the area near Deal have also failed to produce a Thomas born at the right time.

One intriguing entry in the right geographical area is the burial of a John Farmer in the parish record of the Eythorne, Kent, Church of England parish on March 21, 1788.  The entry is clear (LDS 1866545), but no other references to John were found in records for the parish.

Another idea that I have not fully researched is a Farmer family in Erith, Kent, some of whose children are registered in the public records as “Farmar”.  Thomas F. Farmar’s son Thomas Farmar moved to Erith with his family in the early 1840s from Dover.  It is possible that he moved to Erith because he had relatives there