McNamara Family Queensland

The Mystery of Mary Anne Barry

Moreton Bay Bound

John McNamara, Mary Anne Barry and ten year old son James are said to have followed the flocks of the pioneer pastoralists from New South Wales to Moreton Bay Colony around 1850.

How the McNamara family got to the Colony, where they came from and why they left New South Wales remains a mystery.

James McNamara claims Mary Ann gave birth to him in Pitt Street, Parramatta on the 9th August 1841 but no record has ever been found to corroborate the claim.

Were his parents convicts, free settlers or bounty immigrants and did they leave other family members in New South Wales to make a new start in the distant Moreton Bay Colony. And more intriguingly was James the only child of John and Mary Anne McNamara.

Jondaryan Woolshed

The family toiled as shepherds, shearers and drovers, the earliest Queensland record places the McNamara family at Jondaryan Woolshed in 1864, almost fifteen years after their arrival in the Colony.

James McNamara was twenty three years old when he found employment there as a fence builder and sheep washer. How the family had remained "invisible" up that time continues to frustrate researchers.

James says that he completed his education in Brisbane - possibly 5th Grade - before the family moved to the Burnett wool sheds but again no record has been found that could confirm they lived in or around Brisbane sometime between 1850 and Separation in 1859.

He did claim to have taken part in the first hurdles race at Nanango which was held on Boxing Day 1859 on the Tarong run midway between Taabinga and Nanango. It is also thought he won the Working Men's Purse over a mile there in 1866 riding a horse called "Wallaby".

McNamara Family photo Walter Perroux circa 1895

From the Ashes

The only known photo of James McNamara Snr, Mary Anne Fuller and family was saved from destruction in a rubbish incinerator at Proserpine, Queensland in 1980.

The photograph is believed to have been taken at the Walter E. Perroux Studio, Ruthven Street, Toowoomba circa 1895 and sent to Sabina Fontaine nee McNamara who had left Jandowae following her marriage to Gus Fontaine in 1892.

Born in Bangalore, India, Walter Perroux was a prolific photographer of his era. He died in Bowen in 1921, (See Biography)

Finding the Family

Mary Anne Barry the family matriarch remains an enigma. Her name has been found only twice in official records. Once on her son James' wedding certificate and again on his death certificate.

Two other documents, the Birth Certificate of William McNamara shows Mrs. McNamara as midwife and his church Christening record indicates Mary Ann McNamara as sponsor. Could this woman be the elusive Mary Ann Barry or even the wife of an unknown brother of James McNamara.

William's Birth Certificate is the only document that records his father's birthplace as Sydney, Cumberland County - possibly "local knowledge" remembered only by John McNamara or Mary Anne Barry

Pieces of the Puzzle

Much is known about James McNamara, Mary Fuller and their twelve children after 1867 but the origin of his father John McNamara and mother Mary Anne Barry remains hidden from family researchers.

Was his father a humble poultry vendor who lived on the Parramatta Road around 1848 or the colorful Pitt Street tailor who cohabited with a woman of "questionable morals" residing in George Street in 1834.

And exactly what is the family connection, if any, with the arrival of James and Mary McNamara from Country Tyrone aboard the sailing ship "Susan", 25 March 1841.

Could the answer to the mystery be hidden in two other documents - the 1894 Death Certificate of Scottish born Mary McNamara nee Wilson and her marriage to John MacNamara in Belfast Ireland circa 1840 and the Marriage Certificate of John McNamara alias John Barry and Mary Ellen Lee who wed at Rolleston, Queensland in 1872.

The surnames of McNamara, Barry and Wilson appear to have an intriguing but obscure connection - a connection that refuses to yield its secret.

Someone has the key to unlock the mystery of Mary Anne Barry, her family, her origin and her fate.