Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Farey, John (1766-1826)

FAREY, JOHN (1766–1826), geologist, was born at Woburn in Bedfordshire in 1766. At the age of sixteen he was sent to school at Halifax in Yorkshire, where he made the acquaintance of Smeaton, and received a good training in mathematics. In 1792 the Duke of Bedford appointed Farey agent for his extensive estates in Bedfordshire, and he took up his residence at Woburn.

After the death of his patron in 1802 Farey removed to London, and established an extensive practice as a consulting surveyor and geologist. He married early in life, and had a large family, of whom his son John [q. v.], born in 1791, attained eminence as a civil engineer. The elder Farey died at his house in Rowland Street, London, in 1826, Farey's profession necessitated his visiting most parts of England, and required attentive examination of soils, minerals, and rocks. To these matters Farey applied the new principles of geology of William Smith, the 'father of English geology.' Farey collected minerals and rocks from all the places he visited. He drew up, in addition, a large number of geological sections and maps, intended to illustrate the relative position of the strata throughout Britain. These he desired to publish, but the project was frustrated by his death.

Farey's most important work is his 'Survey of the County of Derby,' including a 'General View of its Agriculture and Minerals,' two vols. 8vo, made for the board of agriculture, and published in 1811-13. He also contributed many articles to 'Rees's Encyclopedia,' including the article on the steam-engine, and also frequently wrote for the Monthly Magazine' and the 'Philosophical Magazine.' Altogether Farey wrote sixty scientific papers. The first, 'On the Mensuration of Timber,' appeared in the 'Philosophical Msgazine' for 1804, and the last, 'On the Velocity of Sound and on the Encke Planet,' in the same periodical for 1824 The others ore principally upon geological subjects, as the 'Geology of Derbyshire,' 'heights of the Hills of Derbyshire,' &c., with the addition of a few upon music.

[Monthly Mag. 1825; Royal Society's Cat. of Scientific Papers.]

W. J. H.