History of Saint James’: The Barrys (Part I)

The Ascension Window donated by the Barry Family
The Ascension Window donated by the Barry Family

Seated in the nave, the focus of our worship is the Altar, the Altar Cross, and the great east window depicting the Ascension of Christ.  At the base of the Ascension Window is this inscription:

In memory of my dear Wife, Julia K. Barry

The Barrys

Major and Mrs. Barry were parishioners of Saint James’ Church soon after they came to Fauquier County in 1879 and purchased “Clifton,” a large farm near Warrenton, later renamed “Dunnottar” after the ancient family seat in Scotland.

Mrs. Barry, in whose memory the window was given, was from New York City.  Born Julia Kean Neilson in 1843, she was descended from prominent figures in early American history, including Governor Peter Stuyvesant and Robert Livingston, a Founding Father.  She was the great grand-daughter of General John Neilson and granddaughter of Colonel Nicholas Fish, both officers in the Revolutionary War.

Robert Barry
Robert Barry

Robert Peabody Barry, also of New York City, was a Fourth Generation member of the Barry family of New York and New England.  He attended Columbia College and on the outbreak of the Civil War enlisted in New York’s Seventh Regiment which took part in defensive operations at the City of Washington.  He was commissioned Captain in the regular Army and served in the 16th U.S. Infantry 1861-65, with rank of Brevet Major on retirement.

Soon after the Civil War – on April 19, 1866, Julia Kean Neilson and Robert Peabody Barry were married.  That same year, they moved to Wilmington, N. C., where Robert and his brother formed a successful business, and dealt in cotton.  Later, Robert moved his business to Norfolk, Va., where they lived until retiring to Fauquier County.  The Barrys had seven children, five of whom survived, including Margaret Neilson Barry, grandmother of R. Barry Hamilton, who with his wife Elizabeth (Liz), are fellow parishioners of Saint James’ Church.  Members of the Barry family have been parishioners for 137 years!

The Window

Julia Barry
Julia Barry

Julia K. Barry died on November 27, 1910, one month following the disastrous fire of October 29 that destroyed Saint James’ Church, the parish church she knew so well.  Very soon thereafter, the Vestry and congregation decided to rebuild the church and Major Barry, now the widowed husband, wished to beautify the new edifice with a memorial to his beloved wife.  In 1911, at his request, the Lamb Studio designed the great east window we see today.

The first service at the reconstructed church was held on Sunday, June 23, 1912. Sadly, Major Barry died only a few months after the church was completed – on October 9, 1912.  We hope that he had the pleasure and reward of seeing the window in place that “resonates the force of Christ’s Glory” and is a perpetual memorial to his dear Wife, Julia.  Burial services for Robert and Julia were held at Saint James’ Church with interment in nearby Warrenton Cemetery.

(to be continued – the Barrys and Saint James’ Church)

Compiled: History Committee – Richard Gookin