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

Having lived in New York City, Wilmington, N.C. and Norfolk, Va. and by then with substantial means, Major Robert Peabody Barry, his wife Julia and children, settled at “Clifton,” the large farm they acquired in Fauquier County in 1879 from the Payne family – landowners who were also members of Saint James’.  Later, renamed “Dunnottar,” the Barrys operated a successful working farm.  Tragedy befell, however, in the great blizzard of 1899 when their house burned to the ground.  Undaunted, they moved to another house on the farm, raised their children, and lived there the rest of their lives.

The Barrys were a well-educated cosmopolitan couple and were among those Americans and British who, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, traveled to Europe on the Grand Tour and often acquired works of art.  During one such tour, the Barrys purchased copies of several masterpieces by great artists in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  The paintings were brought to Clifton farm and some years later two of the works were given by the family to Saint James’ Church, where they are treasured today.

In the Parish House above the main stairway hangs a painting which reads:

The Adoration of the Shepherds – after the original by Honthorst – Given to the Glory of God and in memory of Major Robert P. Barry.

This copy of the 1620 original takes on added significance because it was reported that the Uffizi Gallery’s original was destroyed by the Mafia in the Via dei Georgofili Massacre of 1993.

The other, originally painted c. 1506, hangs in the Parish House reception room above the case containing the 1611 Bible; it is a memorial to two daughters of the Barrys. The dedication plaque reads as follows:

The Madonna Cardellino – after the original by Raphael – To the Glory of God – In Loving Memory of Margaret Barry Keith and Julia Barry Horner

Note:  In 1913, soon after the demise of the senior Barrys, the Barry family gave the Town of Warrenton the Barry Fountain, a popular gathering place built in the intersection at Courthouse Square.  Surrounded by circular benches and plantings, and with water flowing from four outlets resembling lions’ heads, it provided water troughs for horses and dogs.  It remained in place until 1928 when it was removed on account of age and damage from the growing prevalence of automobiles.

Compiled: History Committee – Richard Gookin – February 2016

Sources: Family records; Warrenton, Virginia, A Unique History of 200 Years