top of page
Irish genealogist

Octave Fariola's life after the Fenians

Sword to Sickle

Historyeye | sugar plantation, Maryboro Queensland

Sugar plantation near Maryborough, Queensland Australia. Similar to the 3,000 acre plantation where Octavio Fariola embarked on an ambitious farming enterprise with the Hon. William Fielding

Not surprisingly, Fariola did not sink into obscurity after exile to Australia in the 1860s. His name frequently cropped up in the Australian papers, though he was preferring now to be known as Octavio De Libert, perhaps in order to distance himself from his revolutionary past.


Thousands of acres of rich alluvial soil were available in the Wide Bay area of Queensland. And this was where the ex-Fenian made a new life, working the 3,000 acre Magnolia Plantation near Maryborough in partnership with the Hon. William Fielding.


According to the Brisbane Courier of October 1869 he was a member of the Acclimatization Society (the local version of the Royal Dublin Society), and he was experimenting with sugar cane by crushing the crop in winter - something that hadn’t been done before. He was also the first to cultivate olive trees that bore fruit in the province. After ten years, Magnolia Plantation boasted 250 acres of cane, the best in the province, a front garden of lemon, orange and peach trees with passion fruit stretching for half a mile. It had its own mill and a work force of seventy. The impression given is of a grandiose but completely unprofitable enterprise.

Sensational Divorce Case

The main reason why Fariola was mentioned so often in Australian newspapers was because of his involvement in a sensational divorce case initiated by his wife, Jeanne Neukind, in 1874, on grounds of adultery and cruelty. The De Libert v. De Libert case was presided over by three of Queensland’s top judges, including chief justice for the province, Sir James Cockle (1819-1895). With characteristic bravado, Fariola represented himself in court. A copy of the divorce writ, obtained from the Queensland State Archives, threw up the useful detail that the couple’s marriage took place on the 15th of October, 1861, at the church of St. Mary, Scharbeek, Brussels. As the bride was just sixteen, the ceremony was deemed to be illegal. A second marriage was reported to have followed after a child, Octavia, was born in late 1862. Poignantly this child was called to give evidence at the trial on behalf of her mother. But she turned out to be a hostile witness, insisting that her father was always a kind and doting figure in her life.

The case was dropped abruptly at the end of 1874. Fariola countersued the following year, claiming Jeanne was in an adulterous relationship with a man from whom he was now seeking £2000 in damages. He had made further additions to his title by now, calling himself Don Octavius Louis Francis Stephen Fariola dei Rozzoli de Libert. This was his first recorded use of the name Rozzoli, but he used it forever after.

The petition was struck out when the judge ruled that Fariola was in fact colluding with his wife to obtain a divorce (and ultimately the money) contrary to the justice of the case. It was further noted that Fariola had himself been a serial adulterer during the period in question so had little grounds for complaint.

Historyeye | Octavio Fariola's Australian divorce case in 1874

The De Libert v. De Libert divorce case in 1874 was presided over by three of Queensland's top judges including Sir James Cockle

Beset by financial difficulties and with his marriage in tatters, Fariola appears to have left farming for good by 1877. The move may have coincided with the destruction to the sugar crop at Wide Bay during this time because of an invasive fungus. Trading as Frank S. Fariola de Rozzoli of Sydney, he took out a license as a surveyor under the provisions of the Crown Lands Alienation Act of 1876.


Like many Fenian figures, Fariola had literary leanings and produced a written account of his role in the 1867 Irish rebellion. His book appeared in 1879 in the small ads of the Freeman’s Journal. Attempts to find a copy have been unsuccessful. In the 1880s he was named as the father of two children by a Susan Elizabeth Frazer. A marriage license between the two was recorded in the New South Wales civil indexes for 1888.

King Rama V's Engineer in Bangkok

In spite of his marriage to Susan Frazer, Fariola embarked on a new career in Siam in the 1890s. His arrival there coincided with the reign of the reforming King Rama V ( of The King and I fame) , who favoured European engineers in his drive to modernize Bangkok. Fariola was put in charge of the sewage and water system of the city. According to an American Civil War round table forum, he married Arudeng Aun under Siamese law in October 1894. A son and a daughter were born in Bangkok : Louis in 1897 and Margarette in 1901. Shipping records confirm these particulars as Margarette made a trip to New York in 1922, using her father’s citizenship to gain entry to the United States.

Surprisingly, Fariola returned to the United States in September 1904. He appeared in the US census for 1910 for the first time - a boarder in the rooms of an Italian woman at a home for widows, District of Columbia, Washington. Describing himself as a widower, he claimed his second marriage to have been of fifteen years duration. He gave his occupation as "civil engineer, government employ".


Historyeye | Arlington National Cemetery where Octave Fariola was buried in 1914

Arlington Cemetery, Virginia, final resting place of the restless Octave Fariola

Last Years and Death

Of all the countries associated with Fariola, - Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Siam - the United States proved kindest to him at the end of his life. As a Civil War veteran he was able to draw on a military pension and Congress voted in 1907 to increase it from $12 to $30 a month. His last years were no less restless, however. In July 1913, aged 74, he applied for a passport, intending to go abroad for “two or three years”. His appearance by then was described as follows - white hair now and a complexion of “bilious sanguine” . Evidence would indicate that he was bound for Italy, as his supposed return to the United States on the Re D’Italia a little over a year later gave Palermo as his port of departure. It is possible he was revisiting the places associated with Garibaldi and the red-shirted thousand. However there is a heavy line drawn through his name in the ship’s manifest, suggesting that he either didn't make the crossing or died on the way. Civil War forums state that 1914 was the year of his death, and that the charitable Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) paid for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

bottom of page