FARNELL, James Squire (1827-1888)

FARNELL, James Squire (1827-1888)
premier of New South Wales
was born at Parramatta, New South Wales in 1827. At a comparatively early age he began travelling with stock and learnt much about his own colony. The gold discoveries in California in 1848 led to his visiting America, and he also travelled in New Zealand before finally returning to New South Wales. In 1860 he was elected to the legislative assembly for St Leonards, but lost his seat at the next election. He was returned at Parramatta in 1864 and held the seat for 10 years. He became secretary for lands in the first Parkes (q.v.) ministry from May 1872 to February 1875, and for a short period was also secretary for mines. From December 1876 until October 1877 Farnell was an excellent chairman of committees, but towards the end of that year he organized a "Third Party", in November carried an amendment to the address in reply by two votes, and the Robertson (q.v.) ministry resigned. Farnell succeeded in forming a ministry and on 18 December 1877 took office as premier and secretary for lands. In October 1878 he brought in a land bill which was defeated on 5 December. Farnell resigned and was succeeded by Parkes. When the Stuart (q.v.) ministry was formed in January 1883 Farnell was again secretary for lands, and showed much patience and tact in his management of the land bill which became law in 1884. In the succeeding Dibbs (q.v.) ministry formed in October 1885 he was minister of justice and representative of the ministry in the upper house, but this government lasted only a few weeks. He was subsequently elected for Redfern in the assembly and represented that constituency at the time of his death on 21 August 1888.
Farnell was a hard-working legislator who gave much study to the land question and also tried hard for some years to pass a bill for the regulation of contagious diseases. He declined a knighthood. His wife survived him with 11 children, one of whom, Frank Farnell, was a member of the New South Wales parliament at the time of his father's death.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 1888; Official History of New South Wales; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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