The Gormley Family, Gladstone and Belmore River NSW Australia.

The Gormley family lived at Belmore River then called Darkwater River. They were farmers and owned a number of parcels of land from the 1860s. In the years preceding the First World War, John Thomas Fanning, the grandson of Cornelius Gormley farmed at Belmore River on land left to his mother Ellen by her brother Peter Gormley.

The Gormleys from Co Roscommon Ireland lived and farmed around Gladstone and Belmore River NSW. They had emigrated in 1863.

John Thomas Fanning, the son of Ellen Fanning nee Gormley, also farmed land on Belmore River, on land which his mother had inherited from her brother Peter Gormley. He was there in the years preceding the First World War when he enlisted.


On the property John Thomas Fanning farmed I was told the original farmhouse burned down in the 1940s. Fortunately and coincidentally the owners had all their belongings out the front of the house when it burned down!

All that is left along Belmore River from the days the Gormleys lived in this area are old sheds and fences.


I looked for old farmhouses dating back to the time the Gormleys lived there but the only one I think could be that old is the one that was most likely the Ryan home.


The present owner told me that when he bought the house he was advised to pull it down but he didn’t. The design is very old with the separate kitchen to prevent the whole house burning down if the kitchen caught fire! He said that when he was doing some repairs the old fireplace had 1903 marked on it and the rest of the house pre dates this fire place.

The village closest to Belmore River is Gladstone which was called Darkwater Village. It has quite a few historic and well preserved buildings dating back to 1873.

The Gormley Family Co Roscommon Ireland and NSW Australia

Cornelius and Ann Gormley and their children arrived from Co Roscommon in 1853. They settled and farmed in NSW at Belmore River. Ellen Gormley married Joihn Henry Fanning and lived at Bulla in Victoria. Their three other daughters married into the Hanly, McClymont and McGuire families.

Gormley Family Arrive on the Ellenborough 1853
The Passenger list of the “Ellenborough” 1853

In the Sydney Shipping Gazette
Volume 10, Number 497 (17 October, 1853) page 310:

October 12 :- ELLENBOROUGH, ship, 1038 tons, Captain Thornhill, from
Southampton July 10th, with 405 Government emigrants. Mr. Burke
surgeon-superintendent. Young & Co. agents.

On board were Connor Gormley, his wife Ann, sons Thomas and Peter, daughters Sarah, Eliza, and Ellen.

Cornelius’s father was Thomas Gormley. In Griffith’s Valuation for Co Roscommon, Ireland, 1851, there are two listings for a Thomas Gormley in the Parish of Kilcorkey. One is in the townland of Bellanagare for 3 acres of  land and the other is in the townland of Bellanagare Village for a house and yard. There are no other listings for a Thomas Gormley in Co Roscommon. The obit for Cornelius Gormley in The Sydney Freeman’s Journal below states he was from the Parish of Elphin. This parish is next to the Parish of Kilcorkey.

The Gormleys lived at Belmore River, which is in the Macleay Valley, on the Mid North Coast of NSW.

In Greville’s Post Office Directory 1872  for the town of Gladstone, there are three Gormleys listed at Belmore River: Cornelius Gormley, James Gormley and John Gormley. They are all farmers and may be brothers of Cornelius or cousins from Co Roscommon.

Most of the Gormleys are buried in Fredrickton Cemetery which is just north of Kempsey in NSW.

Gormley Family Graves Fredrickton NSW
Gormley Family Graves Fredrickton Cemetery NSW
Cornelius and Ann Gormley
Cornelius and Ann Gormley nee MacDermid Fredrickton Cemetery NSW

Obituary for Cornelius Gormley in The Sydney Freeman’s Journal 2 Nov 1895

At Gladstone, Macleay River, after receiving all
the consolations of religion, a sterling old Irish
Catholic has passed away in the person of Mr.
Cornelius Gormley. He had reached the good old
age of four score and four. He was born in the
parish of Elphin, County Roscommon, Ireland, and
was a brother of the Rev. F. Gormley, of the same
parish, and the Rev. John Gormley, of Dublin. In
1853, owing to the depression prevailing m his
native land, he, with his wife and family, came to
New South Wales, and although he exiled himself
he was ever true to the land he loved so well,
aiding pecuniarily and otherwise every movement
for its advancement and welfare. Even in his
advanced age, a few years back, when Sir Thomas
Esmonde paid a visit to the district, he was con
spicuous for his energetic endeavours to help ‘ the
cause.’ Being a devoted Catholic, he always took
a great interest in Church matters. He did much to
advance the interests of religion in the early days
on the Macleay by the hospitality he extended’ to
the pioneer priests and his endeavours to facili
tate their modes of travelling through the district.
It was in Mr. Gormley’s house that the first Mass
was celebrated on the Lower Macleay many years
ago by the late Rev. Father Coghlan. He was
always active in the political field from the year
1835, when in his native county he recorded his first
vote for O’ Conor Don, to the 24th of July last, when
he rose from a bed of sickness to give what he well
knew would be his last vote to the present member
for the Macleay, Mr. Frank Clarke. When New
South Wales received responsible government, he
played a prominent part in the elections, being at
that time in Sydney. He worked hard endeavour
ing to secure for the country the services in Parlia
ment of such men as Messrs. Plunkett, Deniehy,
and W. Forstor, and afterwards, in 1864, was one of
a party in inducing Mr. Forster to stand for
the old electorate of the Macleay, which seat
Mr. Forster subsequently won. Being a man of in
dependent means, he latterly rested from work, and
until about a year ago, when old age began to weigh
him down, he enjoyed the best of health. The de
ceased was attended in the closing scenes of his life
by the Very Rev. Father Doyle, who administered
the last rites of the Church. The coffin, which was
adorned with many lovely wreaths and crosses,
was placed in the family vault in the Catholic por
tion of the Frederickton cemetery, where his wife,
eldest son, and one daughter had been previously
laid to rest. The funeral was one of the largest ever
seen on the Macleay. The deceased leaves one son
and three daughters, and several grandchildren.

Grave of Thomas Gormley 1875
Grave of Thomas Gormley 1875 Fredrickton Cemetery NSW

Glory In Excelsis Deo

Erected By

Cornelias & Ann Gormley

In Memory Of

Their Beloved Son


A Native of Cy Rosscommon


Who departed This Life

August the 29th 1875

Aged 33 Years

All young men as you pass by

As you are now so once was I

As I am now so you must be

So be prepared to follow me.

Ann Gormley nee McDermott Obit Freemans Journal 14 Mar 1891cr
Obituary for Ann Gormley nee McDermott Freeman’s Journal 14 Mar 1891
Gravestone of Eliza Hanley nee Gormley
Gravestone of Eliza Hanley nee Gormley
Mary Ann McGuire and Peter Gormley
Mary Ann McGuire nee Gormley 1916 and Peter Gormley 1916
Mary Ann McGuire nee Gormley 1916 obit
Mary McGuire nee Gormley The Northern Star 1916
Mary McGuire nee Gormley Obit Catholic Press 1916 cr
Obituary for Mary McGuire in The Catholic Press 16 March 1916


Ellen Fanning nee Gormley Bulla
Ellen Fanning nee Gormley Bulla Cemetery Victoria Australia

The following is a descendant report on the Gormley family from Co Roscommon Ireland who settled at Belmore River NSW Australia:

Descendant Report for Thomas Gormley Co Roscommon Ireland Nov 2016
Descendant Report for Thomas Gormley Co Roscommon Ireland Nov 2016

John Thomas Fanning born 1878 died 1957 Victoria Australia

John Thomas Fanning (1878-1957) was the son of Ellen Gormley and John Henry Fanning. He was born in Bulla Victoria, lived for some time in NSW and was a soldier in WWI. He married Annie Tapscott and had two sons. He died in Coburg Victoria Australia.

John Thomas Fanning
John Thomas Fanning

John Thomas Fanning was the third son of Ellen Gormley and John Henry Fanning. He was born at Bulla in Victoria in 1878.

He was also the father of the famous Melbourne full forward, Fred Fanning and I have been told that John Thomas was himself a very talented boxer and althlete who held various sporting records.

Before he enlisted in 1916 he was living and farming at Belmore River NSW on land owned by his uncle Peter Gormley. John Thomas was reported in The Macleay Argus, 24 June 1910, as having donated money, five shillings, to the Dr Casement Memorial Fund for the Belmore River area. His mother Ellen Fanning was left this land and she eventually sold it in 1926. Before he enlisted John Thomas Fanning held an auction of his goods.

Published in the Macleay Chronicle Feb 3 1915.

Belmore River is where the relations of John Thomas Fanning were living. John Thomas’ mother was Ellen Gormley. His grandfather was Cornelias “Connor” Gormley. The Gormley family grave is in Frederickton Cemetery, near Kempsey, NSW. Belmore River is near the village of Gladstone and is a very beautiful lush farming area near the coast. Even today there are probably only about 30 farms/houses along the river.

John Thomas Fanning was a 38 year old farmer and single when he enlisted in Sydney on the 30th October, 1916. His address was given as Bulla, Victoria and his next of kin, his mother Ellen Fanning, of the same address.

John Thomas Fanning AIF Enlistment Form 1916
John Thomas Fanning AIF Enlistment Form 1916

His unit was called The March 1917 Reinforcements and embarked from Sydney on the “Marathon” on May 10, 1917. John Thomas was a driver. He returned to Australia on the 23rd of March, 1919.

The Macleay Chronicle 28 June 1944
Edward Fanning, Anne Fanning nee Tapscott and Fred Fanning
Edward Fanning, Anne Fanning nee Tapscott and Fred Fanning

After the war he returned and married Annie Tapscott and had two children. One of these, Frederick, was the famous Melbourne footballer, Fred Fanning. He did not return to NSW and lived the remainder of his life in Coburg Melbourne and worked as a rubber worker.

He died in Heidelberg in 1957 and is buried in a military grave in Bulla Cemetery.

John Thomas Fanning Bulla war memorial
Bulla War Memorial
John Thomas Fanning 1957 Bulla Cem.
John Thomas Fanning Bulla Cemetery 1957

The following detailed genealogy reports trace the ancestry of John Thomas Fanning back to William Fannin of Lissaroon Co Tipperary Ireland and also his descendants in Victoria Australia.

John Thomas Fanning Ancestor Report 2015


Photos of Belmore River NSW, Australia, Where the Gormley Family Lived

Photos of the Belmore River area NSW Australia where Cornelius Gormley and his family lived and farmed from at least 1860.

The Gormley family, Cornelius and Ann and their four children, arrived in Australia in Oct 1853, from Co Roscommon, Ireland. Cornelius selected lot 10 after it was proclaimed on 14th May 1860. He is listed as a farmer at Belmore River in 1867 and 1872. Connor as he was called died in 1896. Thomas, his eldest son,  had died in 1875. His lands were left to his remaining son Peter.

When Peter Gormley died in 1916 he left his property to his sister Ellen Fanning, his nephews, Terence Bernard McGuire and Thomas  Hanley, and his niece, Mary Hanley.

Ellen’s son, John Thomas Fanning, farmed the acres which was eventually left to his mother by her brother Peter. John Fanning farmed there for at least five years leading up to his enlistment in 1915. She sold this land in 1924 for 2,216 pounds to John and William Eakin.

These photos are of the area where the Gormleys and John Fanning lived.

I thought the Gormleys, Peter and Thomas, just had land in Beranghi Parish, so I just took photos around there. Later I discovered they had lands in Kempsey and Kinchela Parishes as well as Beranghi Parish, Macquarie County. These photos  of the Belmore River area were taken south of Loftus Rd near Loftus Bridge.

Darkwater Creek (Belmore River)
Belmore River (formerly Darkwater Creek) NSW
Ryan's Old Farm House Belmore River Right Bank Rd
Ryan’s Old Farm House Belmore River Right Bank Rd Gormley neighbours.
Belmore River
Farming Land at Belmore River NSW

Gormley Lands Darkwater Creek NSW Australia Parish Maps

Parish Maps showing land owned by Cornelius, Peter and Thomas Gormley at Belmore River, NSW.

Cornelius Gormley and his sons Peter and Thomas owned several lots of land around Darkwater Creek (Belmore River) which is on the mid-north coast of NSW Australia very close to the coast. It is a lush farming area and very beautiful. Today it is prime real estate.

Their lands are in three parishes: Kempsey, Beranghi and Kinchela and the maps are online at NSW Lands Dept , Parish Maps Preservation Project.

The Kinchela Parish Map shows the land owned by their father, Cornelius Gormley. The Land Titles Office in Sydney records Cornelius Gormley as selecting land in 1863. Image below is 1920 Map 10556201.

Gormley Cornelius Gormley's Lands along Belmore River Kinchela Parish Map 1920
Land Owned by Cornelius Gormley in Kinchela Parish NSW. Parish map of Kinchela 1920, lots 47,48 & 123.
Gormley Cornelius Gormley's lands on Kempsey Parish Map 1954
Land Owned by Cornelius Gormley Kempsey Parish Map 1954, lots 180 & 194

Below is from the Beranghi Parish Map which shows the lands of Peter and Thomas Gormley.

Gormley Parish Map Peter & Thos Gormley Land in Beranghi Parish Darkwater Creek NSW
Lands Owned by Peter and Thomas Gormley in Beranghi Parish Darkwater Creek NSW

Lots 55 & 56 where John Thomas Fanning farmed before WW1 .Lots 55 and 56 are the lots that Ellen Fanning inherited from her brother Peter after his death in 1916. This is where John Thomas Fanning, her son, farmed before he enlisted for WW1. They are shown in the next map of Kempsey Parish.

Gormley Parish Map John Thomas Fanning's land before WW1 Kempsey Parish Map
John Thomas Fanning’s land before WW1 Kempsey Parish Map

Terence Bernard McGuire, 1881-1957, NSW, Australia.

A summary of the life and work of Terence Bernard McGuire, son of Mary Ann Gormley and grandson of Cornelius Gormley. He became the first Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Australia.

Bishop McGuire 1930
Bishop Terence McGuire 1930

Terence McGuire was the only son of Terence McGuire and Mary Ann Gormley. He had a sister, Mary Ann who became a sister of the Good Samaritans. She became Rev Mother Mary Coleman. She died in Sydney in 1963.

He was born at Moree, New South Wales, on September, 1881. His father Dr Terence McGuire was a doctor. He died young at the age of 34.

Dr Terrence McGuire 1881death Morree
Death Notice for Dr Terrence McGuire Moree 1881

As a young man he studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Manly (Sydney), and at Propaganda Fide College in Rome. He was ordained in Rome on 19th March, 1904.

After many years of service within the diocese of Lismore he was consecrated as Bishop of Townsville in the Sacred Heart Cathedral on 25th May, 1930.

Among his many achievements as Bishop of Townsville was the establishment of St. Teresa’s Agricultural College, Abergowrie, in 1933, and St. Anne’s Mission on Palm Island in 1934.

He was transferred to Goulburn as Bishop in 1938, and became the first Archbishop of Canberra – Goulburn on 11th February, 1948. He was succeeded by Hugh Ryan as Bishop of Townsville. 

The Canberra Times, 14 June 1948, describes the ceremony conferring the title and role of Canberra’s first Archbishop on Bishop Terence Bernard McGuire.

Cardinal Gilroy described Archbishop McGuire as being “noted for his culture, administrative ability, oratory and wit, but these qualities of the mind were surpassed by the qualities of his heart which had won the affection of all his friends.”

Bishop McGuire died at Lewisham Private Hospital, Sydney on 4th July 1957.”

Source: McGuire House – Ryan Catholic College Townsville, Thuringowa : North Queensland Catholic School

The catholic career of Terence McGuire:

17 Sept 1881 Born Moree, NSW

19 Mar 1904 Ordained Priest of Lismore

12 Feb 1930 Appointed Bishop of Townsville

25 May 1930 Ordained Bishop of Townsville

14 June 1938 Appointed Bishop of Goulburn

5 Feb 1948 Appointed Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn

16 Nov 1953 Resigned Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn

16 Nov 1953 Appointed Titular Archbishop of Leontopolis in Augustamnica

4 July 1957 Died Archbishop Emeritus of Canberra and Goulburn

Archbishop Terrence McGuire ‘s body was moved from Goulburn in 1972. It is now buried in the crypt of St Christopher’s Cathedral in Manuka, Canberra.

St Christopher’s Cathedral Manuka, Canberra, ACT, Australia

John Henry Fanning 1842-1894 Bulla Victoria Australia

John Henry Fanning was born in Victoria Australia in 1842, son of William Patrick Fanning and Catherine Hayes, and died in Melbourne in 1894. He married Ellen Gormley and had sixteen children with her. He was a farmer and lived at Emu Flat in Bulla Victoria. he is buried in Bulla Cemetery.

John Henry Fanning


John Henry Fanning was the eldest son of “Big Bill” Fanning and Catherine Hayes. He was born in 1842 in Werribee, Victoria, Australia.

One story about him is that he took off and went up north to Queensland and was breaking in horses there. He was supposed to have been cut off by his father for doing this. He is also supposed to have eloped with the station manager or owner’s daughter.

He married Ellen Gormley in Sydney, in Nov 1870, at St Patrick’s Church. Ellen was the third third daughter and youngest child of Cornelius and Anne Gormley.


John Fanning & Ellen Gormley Marriage 1870 Sydney cr
Marriage certificate of John Henry Fanning and Ellen Gormley 1870 Sydney


He married the daughter of Connor Gormley, a farmer in NSW. This may well have been where he was breaking horses. It looks that they may have eloped as they were married in Sydney which is a long way from either of their family homes. Although Ellen did get the permission of her father to marry as she was under the age of 18, although the above record has her age as 21? It also has her place of residence as Sydney.

Ellen’s parents were Cornelias (Connor) Gormley and Ann McDermid  and Ellen was born in Ogulary (Townland or Parish of Ogulla) Co Roscommon, Ireland about 1851. Cornelius was the son of Thomas Gormley. She and her family came out to Australia on the “Ellenborough” arriving on 12th October, 1853. On board were her father, listed as Connor Gormley, a shepherd, aged 43, her mother, Ann aged 35, her sister Sarah, aged 11, her sister, Eliza aged 6 and Ellen aged 2. Her brothers, Thomas aged 13 and Peter aged 9, were also on board.

Her family lived near Kempsey in New South Wales at Belmore River, where they farmed. Her parents and brother and sister are buried in Frederickton Cemetery, just north of Kempsey.

John Henry Fanning was also not left the Family property which is customary as he was the eldest son. Was this because of his wild ways? or did he get the best deal anyway? “Emu Flat”, 342 acres purchased by his father on July 7 1855, was larger and  supposedly a better property. John Henry’s branch of the family became known as the “Flat Fannings” as opposed to the “Hill Fannings” up on a hill at Bulla.

John Henry Fanning from Bulla is listed as signing the Petition for Clemency for Ned Kelly in 1880.

In 1888  he put up for sale land at Emu Creek:

Sale of Emu Creek Land 1888
Sale of Land at Emu Creek by John Fanning 1888


John Henry Fanning The Argus Dec 14 1887
John Henry Fanning and failure to control rabbits
John Henry Fanning died aged 52, in 1894 in St Kilda, Melbourne of a liver ulcer which he was sick with for six months. He was supposed to have died after being trodden on by a cow.

When he died in 1894 at age 52,  his youngest was one year old. Ellen Fanning leased Emu Flat and moved to Essendon. The property was sold about thirty years later and had become very run down.

John Fanning died without a will and his probate papers are online at PROV. His land of 346 acres was mortgaged and the remaining balance of his estate was 793 pounds.

On his land was a four roomed stone house. It is hard to imagine 18 people living in a four roomed house. Ellen came to live at 35 Keilor Rd Essendon with her children.

John Henry Fanning is buried in Bulla Cemetery with his wife Ellen Gormley and many of his seventeen children.

John Thomas Fanning, son of Ellen and John Henry Fanning and grandson of Cornelius and Ann Gormley, also lived at Belmore River before he enlisted in 1916. He is listed in the Sands Directory 1858-1933 at Gladstone in the years 1910-1914. In 1914 he had 14 horses and 65 cattle on 149 acres. Gladstone is a village in the Belmore River area. He farmed land owned by his uncle Peter Gormley. After Peter Gormley’s death  in 1916 Ellen Fanning was left this land . She sold it in 1924.

Ellen Fanning nee Gormley Bulla
Ellen Fanning nee Gormley Bulla Cemetery

Ellen Fanning died 21 May 1928, aged 76 years. In this grave is buried a John Fanning who was buried on 26 Nov 1925.There is no death record for him or details on the cemetery records other than his name and burial date.

John Henry Fanning 1894 Bulla
Grave of John Henry Fanning died 1894

John Henry Fanning died on the 28th October 1894, aged 52 years.

These graves are in the Bulla Cemetry, Victoria, Australia. A number of their children are also buried in the cemetery at Bulla:

Teresa and Frances Fanning Bulla
Grave of Teresa and Francis Fanning Bulla Cemetery
Laura Fanning 1960 & Thomas Fanning 1961
Grave of Laura and Thomas Fanning Bulla Cemetery
Georgina & Johanna Fanning Bulla
Graves of Georgina and Johanna Fanning Bulla Cemetery
Edward Fanning 1948 & Margaret Fanning 1951 Bulla Cem.
Edward Fanning 1948 & Margaret Fanning nee Mallon 1951 Bulla Cemetery
Eileen Mary Fanning & Frederick Joseph Fanning Bulla Cem.
Eileen Mary Fanning & Frederick Joseph Fanning Bulla Cemetery
John Thomas Fanning 1957 Bulla Cem.
John Thomas Fanning 1957 Bulla Cemetery

The following reports trace the ancestry of John Henry Fanning back to Co Tipperary Ireland and also describe his descendants in Victoria Australia.

John Henry Fanning Ancestor Report 2015
Ancestry of John Henry Fanning 1842-1894 Victoria Australia 2015
John Henry Fanning Descendant Report 2015
Descendants of John Henry Fanning 1842-1894 Victoria Australia updated 2015