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Robert William Farlow (1830–1913)

The late Mr. Robert William Farlow was born in Yarramundi on the allotment of land adjoining the Presbyterian Church, and owned by one of the Pearce boys — about a mile from where he died. It is a remarkable coincidence, that he and his deceased wife were born in the same house. His wife, who was a few years his junior, pre-deceased him in 1900. His father, William, died in the middle of life, the result of serious falls. His mother passed away at the age of 36 years, leaving four sons and four daughters. The subject of this notice was the last of the four boys, and attained the greatest age. Two sisters, Mrs. John Cornwall (Richmond), and Mrs. Marsden (Sydney) are still living, well advanced in years. His father will be remembered as the proprietor of the old pub, (Waggon and Four Horses), coaching business to Parramatta, blacksmith's shop, etc. Here the grand old man who has just gone saw a considerable amount of fun among the old men who imbibed too freely, and now and then would speak a little on such matters. Naturally, a most retiring man, he was one of those who knew a lot but never troubled telling. This was a misfortune for those of the present day who take an interest in the doings of the past. Always a keen admirer of boxing, though never taking it on himself, he liked to tell how in the old days they would strip off on the green in front of the pub and settle their differences. He also saw some of the other sports peculiar to that age. One of his duties was to mix the rum, and though reared for years in the pub, was an extremely temperate man. He had no desire for strong drink, caring little if he never saw it. The labor question of to-day was to him a striking contrast of his early days, when he said one of the conditions before hiring was to look at the pan to see if there was plenty of fat in it. In those days, the big old pan was used and plenty of fat. Pork was one of the main foods with many families. In his father's home no 'lazy bones' were tolerated and very early in life he started work. Naturally an industrious man, work never came amiss to him. In his young days he was a fine horseman; and old hands who knew him then will recall the many buck jumpers he mounted and rode to a finish on the green. Even very late in life he has been known to mount a young horse. At breaking in draught horses he was 'all there,' and no matter what turned up he displayed a remarkable amount of ingenuity and patience in training the 'youngster.' Always a lover of a good horse, cow, pig, or fowl, he bred some good stock in his day, and handed down to his family the good old strain of blood now so difficult to find. A good judge of horse flesh, it was nothing new for many to ask the groom what he thought of the horse, for they knew he would see something in a sire many would not. A keen eye for mating, he could tell to a nicety how to mate for a given purpose. He had some varied experiences on the mountains as a carrier, and saw something of the prisoners chained together and marched over the mountains. He reckoned there were some 'clips' among them. In those days the 'gentlemen of the road' were about, and it was his general practice to stuff his cash down in a bag of chaff. He never was interfered with. On the Sydney road he had considerable experience in carrying, and saw a good deal of fun peculiar to such a life. He was on the road to Sydney and was about 'Battle Bridge' when he saw the first train from Sydney come through. Always industrious and thrifty, he saved money, and purchased 20 acres of land from his father, which now forms part of the estate he lived on for close on 50 years; the balance of it was left to him, under will, by his father. He married Emily Heath, daughter of William Heath (the old tailor, as he was generally known). The marriage took place in old St. Peter's, Richmond, Rev. John Elder officiating. His first home was the house in Yarramundi where old Mr. T. Mortimer lives. He next lived in the house on the hill at the Yarramundi bridge, and finally built the home he ended his days in. He loved the old home, and his greatest wish was to remain in it till he was carried out. Three children were the issue of the marriage: George Robert (who died in infancy), Mrs. A. Parker (Penrith), and Robert William, who has resided with his father since 1900. Passionately fond of children, he was a good, though indulgent, father. In his old days he was comforted with three grandchildren (Robert's family) and truly the saying 'the children's children are the joy of the old men's hearts,' was verified to a degree, for he next to worshipped them. His was a disposition rarely met with, and enemies he had none. Born with a poetic nature, he might have done great things had he cultivated the gift. He loved, and counted it fun, to make a rhyme on any of his grand-children's little sayings. Regular in habits, he had his time for bed and time to rise, and it was a rare occasion he would depart from it. He had his time to knock off work, and if ploughing when the time came to 'down tools' and there was one round to finish a land, it would have to stand over till the morning. Never was he known to complain, whether in sickness or in health. Come fair weather or foul, droughts or floods, success or failure, he pursued the even tenor of his way in silence. He now rests from his labors. He has crossed the great divide, ripe in years and rich in honor, and though he has gone the consistent life he lived will still speak. He was one of those who never wore his views of life on his sleeve, but lived them out. It was only his own who knew the high and strong views he held as to what class of life a man should live. His end was in keeping with his life— one of peace and resignation. May each of us be as well prepared to go hence as the 'grand old man' William Robert Farlow.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Farlow, Robert William (1830–1913)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Yarramundi, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


16 June, 1913 (aged ~ 83)
Agnes Banks, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.