Farr, William, 1807-1883

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William Farr, 1807-1883, was born in Kenley, Shropshire. At the age of two, he was effectively adopted by a local squire, Joseph Pryce, who paid for Farr's education. From 1826 to 1828, Farr worked as a dresser in the infirmary at Shrewsbury and studied medicine with a doctor there. On Pryce's death in 1828, Farr received a legacy that enabled him to pursue his studies in Paris and Switzerland. In 1831, Farr returned to Shrewsbury to work as an unqualified locum before studying at University College London, becoming a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. In 1833, he established an apothecary's practice in Bloomsbury, London, and proceeded to publish a number of articles in The Lancet on such topics as hygiene, quack medicine, life assurance and cholera. Farr had first demonstrated an interest in medical statistics during his studies abroad, and in 1832 he published his "Vital Statistics" in Macculloch's Account of the British Empire , thus starting a new interest in statistics. From 1838 to 1879, he worked in the Registrar General's Office compiling abstracts. In 1855, he served on the Committee for Scientific Enquiry into the cholera epidemic of 1854, and produced statistical evidence that cholera was spread by polluted water, though he and his colleagues continued to adhere to the theory that epidemic disease was spread by miasma. Farr also served as commissioner for the 1871 census. He retired from public service in 1879.

From the guide to the FARR, William, 1807-1883, Statistician, 1853-1883, (British Library of Political and Economic Science)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Quetelet, Adolphe, 1796-1874. Correspondence, 1822-1872. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Adolphe Quetelet correspondence, 1822-1872, 1822-1872 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Memoranda and papers connected with the report by Dr Hancock on the supposed progressive decline of Irish prosperity, 1863-1864 University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Department of Special Collections
creatorOf FARR, William, 1807-1883, Statistician, 1853-1883 British Library of Political and Economic Science
referencedIn Robert Hunt letters, 1842-1879, 1842-1879 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Hooker, Joseph Dalton, Sir, 1817-1911. Correspondence. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
creatorOf Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910. Correspondence, 1865-1883. [microform]. University of Iowa Libraries
creatorOf Hendriks, Frederick, 1897-1915. Frederick Hendriks collection, 1709-1891. University at Albany, University Libraries
creatorOf Farr, William, 1807-1883. Letter to "My dear Sir" : ALS, [1870?]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Scientists Collection, 1563-1973 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Hunt, Robert, 1807-1887. Letters, 1842-1879. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Quetelet, Adolphe, 1796-1874. Correspondence, 1822-1872. American Philosophical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
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associatedWith Foot, Isaac, 1880-1960. person
associatedWith Hendriks, Frederick, 1897-1915. person
associatedWith Hooker, Joseph Dalton, Sir, 1817-1911. person
associatedWith Hunt, Robert, 1807-1887. person
associatedWith Larcom, Sir Thomas Aiskew, 1801-1879 person
associatedWith Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910. person
associatedWith Quetelet, Adolphe, 1796-1874. person
associatedWith Registrar General of Births Deaths and Marriages corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Health statistics
Infectious diseases
Health policy


Birth 1807-11-30

Death 1883-04-14




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