Person Sheet

Name John O'FARRELL (Farrell mostly used)
Birth 1843, County Clare, Ireland
Death 14 Apr 1890, Dunnstown Age: 47
Burial 16 Apr 1890, Ballarat Cemetery
Father John O'FARRELL
Mother Bridget O'NEIL
Birth 8 Oct 1859, Ballarat, Vic
Death 31 Jul 1902, Yarragon Age: 42
Burial Yarragon Cemetery
Father Thomas WILKINSON (1817-1879)
Mother Ellen HENRY (1831-1870)
Marriage 10 May 1877, St.Mary's Geelong
Children Bridget (1877-1877)
  Patrick (1879-1952)
  Catherine “Kate’ (1881-1945)
  Ellen (Nell) (1883-1952)
  Martha (Aunty Mat) (1884-1985)
  Bridget (Aunty Bud) (1885-1970)
  John "Jack" (1887-1962)
  James (Jimmy) (1889-1946)
  Thomas (1889-1916)
Notes for John O'FARRELL
BIO:John O'Farrell was born in one Ireland's poorest counties, County Clare in 1843. It appears John may have traveled with his parents and 4 brothers to Australia. Each of them taking up small land allocations around Ballarat. It is unknown if they were involved in the gold mining prior to this. At the age of 34, John married Martha Wilkinson (18yrs) the only surviving child of Thomas and Ellen Wilkinson in St Marys catholic church Geelong on the 10th May 1877. Despite his reputation as a hard drinker John was a successful farmer.  The alcohol did take it's toll on family life, when combined with his temper, he could be very frightening and brutal towards his family, who frequently fled to the bush to avoid him till he fell asleep and sobered up. It eventually led to his own death in 1890 when after just such an episode, he was burnt to death when he became trapped in his own burning house.

Probate record, click here for pdf



A case of burning to death took place at Warrenheip last evening under singular circumstances, the victim being a man named John O’Farrell, who lost his life while mad with drink, and apparently by his own hand It appears that O’Farrell was in Ballarat on Monday, and having gone home about 8 o'clock quite drunk, he proceeded to use violence towards his wife and family (of whom there are seven, ranging in age up to 11 years) The wife, with her children, sought refuge from the madman in some scrub near the house, intending to stay there until O’Farrell might be asleep. In the meantime a neighbour, named McInerney, proceeded to the house with the intention ot appeasing the drunken man, but O'Farrell pushed him outside the door, which he locked, at the same time threatening to burn the house over his head. This he appears to have done, for shortly afterwards Mrs. O’Farrell, from the scrub, saw the building ablaze, but was powerless to do anything. There being no water available the fire burnt itself nearly out, when Constable Nelms. of the Warrenheip station arrived, and after some trouble partially subdued the flames. Although there were then about 30 persons on the scene, and O’Farrell was known to be in the burning house, nothing could be done to save him, as he had locked himself in whilst locking McInerney out The remains when found amongst the ruins presented a horrible appearance the head, arms, and legs being completely burnt off the body, which was a mere shapeless mass of charred and burnt flesh. Whether he had wilfully set fire to the house, or whether he lay down to sleep and left the candle burning by which the lining of the building had become ignited cannot be known, but McInerney says that when he was in the house O’Farrell attempted to set fire to the canvas ceiling in his drunken madness It is a curious fact that the decease's brother, known as "Mickey Free" some years ago, met his death by falling and breaking his neck whilst pursuing his wife with an axe to cut her in pieces. The truth is he fell hitting his head, fracturing his skull whilst chasing one of his children to punish them, as reported in the newspapers at the time.

Dunnstown  farm site behind Old Distillery

John O'Farrell Ballarat grave site