Major Farhill (c.1775-1845) was a Sussex man through and through. He came from a well-connected Chichester family and lived in that city for most of his life. He was appointed a deputy lieutenant of the county in June 1821 and was a county JP for the Rape of Chichester for many years, becoming - on the recommendation of the Duke of Richmond - deputy chairman of the Chichester Quarter Sessions. He was a commissioner of the Board of Stamps and Taxes and frequently adjudicated on cases in Chichester. A borough magistrate for Chichester, he often sat as chairman of the Chichester Petty Sessions. He was a landowner in the county, owning the great tithes of the parish of Alciston. Following service in the regular army - in the 41st Regiment of Foot, appointed lieutenant in October 1796 - Farhill served in the Sussex Militia, appointed captain in July 1803 and later promoted major. This prompted the sobriquet "an illegitimate son of Mars", controversially used by Thomas Leader Harman in a post-election spat in Southampton in June 1842.

The last few years of Farhill's life was, as this suggests, spent in Southampton. Moving to the town between 1837 and 1841, he took up residence at Albion Terrace. He was elected a town councillor, on the Conservative side of politics, in November 1841. He was active on the Southampton Pavement Board and the Board of Waterworks, both in their days of independence and after their incorporation into the Southampton Improvement Board. He spoke much on matters connected with the sewerage of the town and was a passionate advocate of the Northam well as the source of the town's water supply. "It was necessary that this town should have an almost inexhaustible supply of water … they should never be without their reservoirs full" (Board of Waterworks debate, August 1844). As a Commissioner of the Royal Victoria Pier (often acting as chairman), he helped promote the building of graving docks in the port. He was never a Southampton magistrate, but was mischievously nominated - as a humane and temperate man, insuperably beyond all objections - for the position in September 1844 by the cantankerous surgeon Francis Cooper in opposition to William J Le Fevre, bete noire of the Southampton radicals. It was a post Farhill did not seek: "after fourteen or fifteen years experience as a Magistrate of the county of Sussex and the city of Chichester, he knew it was by no means a very agreeable office" (Hampshire Advertiser, 7 September 1844).

Major Farhill died at his residence in Albion Terrace on 10 August 1845, aged 70 years. He left personal property valued at £12,000 for probate. His widow, Sarah, survived him by 20 years. She died, at 74 Marland Place, on 3 March 1865, aged 86 years. At probate she left personal effects of “under £6,000”. Her will is in Hampshire Archives and Local Studies (5M62/7, page 680).


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