Emigration & Resettlement


In common with millions of other Irish, the Manary/Menary clan immigrated in droves to other countries during the 19th  century. Religious strife, bad economic conditions, overcrowding, and the inability to own land were the common motivators. Nearly all the families were tenant farmers, although a few had other professions. Certain family groups, such as the branches in Armaghbreague and Maghery Kilcranny, had a lower rate of emigration, and this could perhaps be because of better land or better landlord/tenant relations. Manarys from County Down also had a low rate of emigration and this could be attributed to the variety of jobs that were available in that county.

The majority of the Manary/Menary immigrants left Ireland before the Potato Famine of 1845 – 1852, so it appears the desire for a better life was the strongest influence, rather than starvation. Although the greatest number of the four-and-a-half million Irish who left Ireland chose to go to the United States, the trend was different for the Northern Ireland Anglo-Irish. After the War of 1812 was over and the treaty was signed, land grants in Canada opened up. This attraction, coupled with their loyalty to the British crown, led many to choose Canada. As colonies of the British crown, Australia and New Zealand were favoured destinations as well.


Before the turn of the 19th century, a few Manary/Mannery/McNary groups immigrated to the United States; we currently do not know exactly how they fit into the Northern Ireland group. However, two of the groups have scores of DNA matches to many of us, so it is evident we are related to them.

  1. John Mannery, likely born about 1650 in Gloucestershire, England, immigrated to Maryland in 1675. By the mid-1700s, the family had become prosperous tobacco farmers in the state and some lived in the neighbouring state of Virginia. The family became numerous and spread out across the US. Their surname is mostly rendered Manery in the present.
  1. The family of David McNary: One son James McNary married Mary Beilman and settled in Pennsylvania about 1740. A younger son, Hugh McNary, probably also settled in Pennsylvania, but by 1850 had moved on to New Jersey, where he married Janet Logan. (Hugh’s descendants began to spell their surname Manary within a generation or two, as did a certain number of James’). We also have matches to Martin McNary and William McNary, whose relationship to David McNary is unknown . By a couple of generations, the family had spread out over the US, going by both Manary and McNary.
  1. John, Alexander, and Gilbert Manary were probably brothers and sailed from Belfast in 1747. They settled in Charles County, South Carolina; records show the family was in South Carolina until at least 1796. There were some descendants but the family has not been studied in depth. As far as is known, no descendants have shown up as DNA matches. It could be that the line has died out. However, because the first two groups were so numerous and spread out over such a large portion of the US, it is possible that descendants of this group have been mislabeled as part of the Manerys or the McNarys.


By the turn of the 19th century, the trickle of Manary/Menary emigration became a flood. Canada was now the favoured destination: over 50% chose to settle there, all in Ontario; approximately a quarter immigrated to the United States; 10% took the step of going to Australia or New Zealand; and about the same to nearby Scotland and England.

The safest place to go was other counties in the British Isles — those who went to the New World had an entirely different prospect ahead of them. The voyage by ship was long and treacherous; the land was mostly undeveloped; amenities were few. Most expected they would never return to their native land and would never see their families again. Each of the migrating families had their own reasons for choosing one place or the other. Many were influenced by the first intrepid emigrants, who reported back to their family on conditions where they had settled. This is known as “chain migration”, the social process by which migrants from a particular area followed others from that area to a particular destination.

Scotland and England:

The distance wasn’t far to move to Scotland and it was the safest bet, with fully developed towns, cities, and industries. It was also much more possible to visit family left behind in Ireland and to keep in touch. Several families or descendants of various family groups went to Scotland and settled there. Among those was Andrew Menary, who came from Donaghenry, County Tyrone and permanently settled in Dumfries, Scotland. Other important families were James Menary (wife Mary Jane Goodwin), son of Robert Menary and Sarah Whitton and his brother, Samuel Menary (wife Mary McWilliams). James was a tailor and settled in Dundee; Samuel was a farm worker and settled in Kirkmichael.

The same held true for England, and many branch descendants decided to emigrate there. One was John Menary (wife Maria Quail), born 1813 in Ireland (parents unknown), who immigrated to Manchester about 1834 as a bricksetter. All five of his grandchildren left England: two back to Ireland, two to New Zealand and one to Canada.

In County Down, the family originating with Thomas Menary (born ca 1790), lived at Donaghadee, and were mariners and shipbuilders. One grandson, Alexander, died at sea in a shipwreck; another, John Menary (wife Martha Niblack) immigrated to Liverpool, England in 1875, where he worked as a “ship joiner”.


The largest percentage chose Canada and this was a real leap of bravery. The climate was much harsher than in Ireland, and most had to face clearing their land of enormous trees. This required skills and tools most settlers didn’t have. It was a daunting prospect, but to their credit, most quickly managed to establish homesteads and fields that they could farm.  

In Canada, all of the Manary/Menary branches took up land in Ontario, where land grants were organized and available. The earliest branch to emigrate that we know of was that of Esther Menary (born 1783; parents as yet unknown) and her husband John Howe, who immigrated from County Fermanagh to New Brunswick about 1816, the only branch to settle in that province. Next was  William Wallace Menery (wife Catherine McMillan) and their family from County Armagh. They left Ireland in 1821 and chose Halton County, Ontario. It is very possible that some of other branches from Armagh who emigrated later were following his lead.

In 1830, James Manary (wife Isabella McLellan) from County Tyrone came to Canada, choosing to settle in Lanark County. His family in Tyrone followed the “chain migration” pattern, with two of his siblings following nine years later: Robert Manary (wife Maria McWilliams) and Sarah Manarey (husband Robert Penman), and a group of nephews and a niece in the 1850s, who moved on to another area in Ontario: Joseph Minary (wife Ellen Coleman), David Manary (wife Jane Lively), and Mary Jane Manary (husband Francis Allingham). Other branches from Tyrone arrived in the 1840s and settled in Huron, Halton, Frontenac, Dufferin and Wellington. These included James Menary (wife Rebecca Lockhart); John Menary (wife Catherine Wilson); William Manery (first wife Annie McGill); and Thomas Menary (wife Margaret Shaw).

From 1821 to the end of the 19th century and a little beyond, Menary branches from Armagh continued to migrate out of Northern Ireland. These included Jane Manary (husband Adam Bailey); John Menary (wife Jane Shannon); William Manarey (wife Sarah Breadner), along with his brother John Manarey; Andrew Manarey (wife Mary Jane Hughes); Margaret Menary (husband Edward Nash); Alexander Menary (wife Nancy Pearson); Sarah Menary (husband William Armstrong). Many of these were siblings to each other. They settled in the counties of Halton, Middlesex, Huron, Leeds, Grey, and Dufferin. Later, some of the descendants of various branches moved from Canada to the United States and filtered out across the country.

There were two Manarys whose exact location origin has not been determined and may have come from either Armagh or Tyrone, and these were William Manary (wife Sarah Johnston) and William Manary (wife Mary Corman). They were around the same age; the former settled in Halton County and the latter in Wentworth.

United States:

Apart from the above-mentioned family groups who came in the 1600s and 1700s to the United States, a few Menary groups chose the US during the 1800s, rather than Canada. By this time, the US was more settled and cultivated than Canada, and making a living was somewhat easier.

Joseph Minary, born 1791, was the first to leave County Tyrone, as far as is known. In 1814, he moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania, where he married Susan Kitchen and raised a family.

James Menary, born about 1798, along with his wife Elizabeth and family, left Eglish Parish in County Armagh about 1818 and also immigrated to Pennsylvania. However, James and his family settled in Pine Township, Allegheny County. Three of his daughters married into local families.

James Manary, (wife Catherine Hopkins) (who stated his parents were named John and Ann Manary), immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts in 1847. In 1851, William Manary (wife Mary Ward) with the same named parents, followed James and emigrated from Ireland to Boston, but later moved on to New Haven, Connecticut. William was 34 years younger than James, so the relationship between the two is unclear.

William Minnery or Menry (earlier known as Menary, born in Ireland and lived in Scotland, also immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts about 1847, along with his second wife, Elizabeth Lane. His first wife was Ann Charters. William and Elizabeth had a family of 5 daughters in the Boston area.

Phoebe Kilpatrick Menary, after the untimely death of her husband John Menary of Magherykilcranny, Armagh, immigrated to New York with her six children in 1852. She was joining her Kilpatrick relatives and intended to stay there, but she died a year later. Sometime in the early 1860s, her four sons left New York and settled in Dufferin County, Ontario.

John Menary, born in 1813 in County Down, along with his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) Kilpatrick and seven childen, immigrated in the 1860s to Rose Creek, Thayer County, Nebraska and established a successful farm.

Joseph Causer Menary, descendant of Alexander Menary of Cavanballaghy, emigrated as a young man from Eglish Parish to Williamsburg, Iowa around 1879. He was followed by three of his brothers, Alexander, John, and Robert “Ed”, who chose various other locations.

John Menary (wife Ann Harbison), a descendant of the John Menary of Kilmatroy branch, immigrated to Bodega, Sonoma County, California in 1872, along with his family of five children.

David Menary (wife Edna Hanjes) and James Gray Menary (wife Frances Donaldson), descendants of the John Menary and Elizabeth Downey branch from Kilclooney, Armagh, immigrated in the early 1900s to Marin County, California.


Originally set up as a penal colony, Australia became the place to send petty criminals, thousands of miles from their homeland. Conditions were difficult, but by the early 19th century, reformed convicts were encouraged to participate in settling the country and boost the local economy. William Manery from County Tyrone, born 1798, was one of these. Convicted of receiving stolen goods, he received a ten-year sentence and arrived in Sydney, New South Wales in 1846. Years later, his wife Martha McAllister and family were allowed to join him and they settled around Kempsey, in the Macleay River area in NSW.

By 1864, the penal colonies had mostly been phased out. Soon after their marriage, Joseph Menery, a son of Robert Menary and Sarah Whitton, and his wife Annie Halliday immigrated to Brisbane, which had been a penal colony but was now open to free settlers. It was a tumultuous time for the young couple: typhoid fever broke out among the passengers that had been aboard their ship; there were two major fires, one of which destroyed a large percentage of Brisbane; a flood ravaged the area; an unidentified infectious disease swept the area. Nevertheless, they established themselves in Fig Tree Pocket, thrived, and raised a family of seven children.

In 1884, James Kennedy Menary, grandson of John Menary and Elizabeth Downey, immigrated with his new wife, Jessie Rose to Mount Morgan in Queensland, Australia. He may have been motivated by the copper, gold, and silver mining in the area. He and Jessie had four children; after her death he remarried to Susan Wilson and had another son. Their descendants have mostly remained in Australia.

New Zealand:

John Menary of Lurgaboy, Armagh decided to settle in New Zealand. His wife Sarah Martin died in Armagh in 1835; four years later, he and his children sailed to Australia. Leaving his children temporarily, he scouted out New Zealand and then brought his family to the Bay of Islands. Within a short time, he had established himself in Auckland. At the time, there was a lull in the ongoing conflicts with the Maoris, but this flared up several times in the ensuing years. Many of the Auckland residents were soldiers who were defending the city and surrounding areas. It was noted that most of the Irish in Auckland were Protestants from Ulster.

Thomas Menary, born about 1835 in County Down, emigrated about 1870 to Nelson, New Zealand, where he established himself as a pub owner and married Mary Stanton. They had one son together, George Thomas, and descendants still live in New Zealand today.

As with settlers to Canada and the United States, there was fluidity between Australia and New Zealand, with descendants in both counties moving back and forth. This was also mirrored by immigrants from Ireland who chose Scotland and England.

Altogether, about 45 known families from the 35 (latest count) branches of the Manary/Menary clan in Northern Ireland immigrated elsewhere in the world. Many remained in Ireland, however, and in present-day Northern Ireland, there are still members of the family who live in Tyrone, Armagh, and Down.

Note: See Migration Chart in “Branches: Research Reports”, listing the various groups who emigrated from Armagh and Tyrone, along with their year of immigration (some of these dates are approximate, but many are confirmed); place of origin; age at the time of immigration; and where they settled. The chart will be updated as new facts come in.


Contributed by Barbara MacPherson



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