Martin Rowland SHANNON

Born:      15 May 1868 (Rockhampton, Queensland).
Died:        22 September 1949 (Mackay, Queensland), aged 81 years
Buried:    22 September 1949 (Church of England Section, Mackay Cemetery)
Parents:  John SHANNON and Margaret YOUNG
(1) March 1894, Julia THOMSON
(2) 1928 to Eleanor M. RAY
Religion:   Church of England
Education: Kings School (Parramatta N.S.W.), Sydney University

Martin Rowland Shannon was the second son of  John and Margaret Shannon. He was born in Rockhampton on 15 May 1868 when his parents owned "Crescent Lagoon" which is now the site of the Rockhampton airport. Martin or "M.R." as he was known attended school in Rockhampton before his family arrived at "Saltbush Park" when he reached the age of six.  

At the age of 15 he was part of a team with his father who took a mob of horses from "Saltbush Park" to Sydney to sell them.  The trip took a year and the men returned to Mackay by Steamer. A year later he travelled back to Sydney by steamer to attend the King's School at Parramatta. He was a high achiever scholastically and then went to Sydney University where he completed his law course in three years instead of the prescribed five years.  In his final year in 1891 , he topped the class in at least three subjects and apparently overall.  M.R. was called to the Bar in 1892 just prior to the great Bank crash of 1893.

In March 1894 he married Julia Thomson of Nowra, whose home on the Shoalhaven River was a grant, the terms being "one peppercorn if demanded".  Julia Thomson was the grand-daughter of Mrs. Mary Reiby, who was one of the founders of the Bank of New South Wales and in whose home the first office was established , this being the first bank in Australia.

Soon after their marriage M.R. and Julia went to live at "Eaglefield" near Mackay. This venture was not a success, so they established themselves at "Bartholla," a cane farm 2 miles west of Pleystowe, where all their children were born.  Rowland Maurice was first and he was born in a tent because the house was incomplete at that stage in 1895.

M.R. moved his family to Sydney in 1908 so he could resume his practice of Law.  They lived at Manly for a couple of years then moved to Wentworthville.  Prior to returning to Sydney, he had been actively engaged in local politics.  He was an acting judge of the N.S.W. Supreme Court for a time before the outbreak of World War 1.  He also acted as a member of the Sugar Commission and was Crown Prosecutor in Western N.S.W. during 1913-1914.

During World War 1 he became and Officer in the Australian Rifle Regiment and he commanded the Casula Training Camp near Liverpool.  He was later appointed Military Commander of the troopship "Arrawatta" for a voyage to England. Whilst in London he went to Harley Street hearing specialist and was given bad news. His deafness was increasing and prevented him from seeing active service in France on the Western Front.

He returned to Australia in 1917 and by the end of the war in 1918 was almost totally deaf, so he had to abandon his law practice and return to "Bartholla" at Pleystowe. About this time he was also forced to have several operations on his eyes.

Julia his wife of 30 years died in 1924 and four years later in 1928 in partnership with his son Maurice, purchased "Olive Downs" station. Later that year another son, John, took over Maurice's share. They built up a good herd of Hereford cattle in which he took a considerable interest.

M.R. remarried in 1928 to Eleanor M. Ray of Sydney whose family had owned "Cardowan" station prior to the severe drought in the early 1900's and its subsequent inclusion in the "Saltbush Park" property. They had one child Ruth Margaret Ray.

Despite failing eyesight he continued to read extensively and he applied his clear, legal mind to all topics and problems of the day. He retained a keen interest in current and practical affairs until his death.  He died whilst on a business trip to Mackay on 22 September 1949 and is buried in the Mackay Cemetery.

Information Sources:

Kerr, John. (1980).  Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council.

Mackay Cemetery Burial Register

Queensland Pioneers Index, 1829-1889

Queensland Federation Index 1890-1914.

Shannon Centenary Booklet, 1872-1972, unpublished.

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Glen Hall



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last updated 19 July 2017 .
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