John Farmer was an English composer, music teacher and organist.
His father, also John (1812–1894) was a butcher and his mother, Mary, a milliner. The eldest of four children, John Farmer was recognised as a child prodigy, playing violin, piano and harp. His uncleHenry Farmer (1819–1891), was also a conductor, composer, violinist and organist in Nottingham. He owned a successful music-warehouse and nurtured his nephew's musical talent.
Between 1849 and 1852, John Farmer studied piano at the Leipzig Conservatory with Ignaz Moscheles , after which he studied for a year in Coburg under Andreas Spaeth, a composer, organist and clarinetist. Farmer returned to England to briefly work in his parents' millinery business, then travelled to Switzerland in 1853, marrying Mary Elizabeth Stahel (1840–1914) in 1859, the daughter of a Zurich schoolteacher, with whom he eventually had 7 children.