Until recently I knew practically nothing of the history of my McNamara line. My father was an only child and the only thing he knew about his fathers family was that there might have been a brother and a couple of sisters.
As it turns out my McNamara grandfather was one of eight children and my McNamara great grandfather was one of fifteen! Great great grandfather McNamara was an Irish immigrant (bet you didn't guess that). In no time at all I have gone from having no known connection to other McNamara's to potentially having heaps of McNamara connections and connections to many other people of different names too.
I do not know what great great grandfather James McNamara did when he first arrived from County Clare, Ireland. I do know he married an Irish girl, also from County Clare, called Catherine Guerin in Adelaide, South Australia, in Sept 1847. He was about 24, she was about 17. Neither were literate enough to sign their own names on the wedding certificate or church registry.
Catherine Guerin arrived in Adelaide on the Hooghly, Saturday 24 Oct 1846. She was in the company of 4 other Guerin's who were probably her brothers and sister. There was also a John McNamara and a Patrick McNamara aboard this vessel but I do not know if they were related to great great grandfather James.
James and Catherine produced 9 children, mostly boys, in South Australia before moving to Victoria in early 1860. Their eldest son, Denis, is my great grandfather. James was either involved in mining before they moved or became involved once they reached Victoria where there was much activity on the Victorian goldfields to the west of Melbourne. They settled at Golden Point - Faraday near Chewton, not far from Castlemaine.
Another 6 children were born to James and Catherine in Victoria. The youngest of these 6 children were not much older than the first of their grandchildren. Many of their sons became involved with mining or the associated trades and industries and married before leaving the district. Catherine died in 1888 and is buried at Chewton. James moved to the Hillgrove goldfield, near Armidale NSW, presumably with sons Michael, Edward and Thomas after the death of his wife Catherine. He died in 1900 and is buried at Armidale with his son Michael who died in 1895 from pneumonia.
Great grandfather, Denis McNamara, married an Irish immigrant, Catherine Mullane. Catherine was from Mallow, County Cork. Denis was a labourer and miner and moved numerous times, presumably following work. His first two children were born on the goldfields of Victoria. The third child, my grandfather John Leo McNamara, was born at Grafton in 1879. Two daughters were born near Sydney, another daughter in Melbourne and then finally another two children were born at Grafton. Denis and Catherine later moved to Sydney. They are buried at Waverley Cemetery, a gravesite with some of the best views in the world!
My grandfather was also sometimes involved with mining. He appears to have had some involvement with mines at a place called Niagara, just near Kookynie, Western Australia.
With such large families and so many sons, a great number of descendants carried on the McNamara name from James McNamara and Catherine Guerin. I have traced several families as far as records easily allow and I am confident that there are many living descendants who share these same ancestors. To find out about the descendants of James and Catherine visit the MAGPIE and following the links on names in italics.
Mining was obviously a family thing, even my father worked on a mine for a little while. And guess what? I'm a geologist!
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Last updated February 2002.