John Todd Farmilo was born on 19 Jan 1849 in Chelsea, England, to Jesse Farmilo (1810-1855) and his wife Charlotte North (c.1822-1894). He became a bricklayer and went to America to assist in the rebuilding of Chicago after the fire of 1871. He arrived in Launceston in 1876 and established himself as a building contractor. His business J T Farmilo, Timber Merchant and Builder, Steam Saw and Moulding Mills was situated in Cimitiere Street, Launceston. He supplied doors, sashes, nails, screws, locks and all kinds of builders' ironmongery. His first major contract was the Memorial Church in Wellington Street, which he started on his wedding day. He also was a founding trustee and deacon of the church. Other buildings he constructed include the Albert Hall, Barclay's Building (now Myer's site), the original Duck Reach Power Station and the Coffee Palace as well as many of Launceston's finest homes.
He married Mary Amy Stewart, the only daughter of David Stewart, a pilot at Low Head, on 14 Feb 1883. They had ten children: Catherine Stewart, Charlotte Melinda, Amy Caroline, Stella Mary, Victor David, Arthur Theodore, Jessie May, John Barnard (Jack), Gertrude Florence and Charles Leonard. In 1906, the Farmilo family relocated to 'Morby', Northam, Western Australia, for two years, and then came back to Launceston. In 1924 two of his sons, Arthur and Jack, returned to Launceston and entered in partnership with their father, trading as J T Farmilo and Sons. John Farmilo died aged 84 on 22 Mar 1933 at his residence 96A Elphin Road. His funeral was held at the Memorial Baptist Church, Wellington Street. He was buried in the Baptist section at the Carr Villa Cemetery on 24 Mar 1933, but there is no headstone. See The Examiner 1 Oct 2005, p. 27.