Michael Joseph Fay


Born:       1841, Lancashire, England
Died:         30 December 1902, Mackay, Queensland, Australia, aged 61 years.
Buried:     31 December 1902,( Mackay Cemetery, R. C. Sect.18, Row. 18, Plot 27)
Marriage: 16 December 1864 (Mackay, Queensland) to Bridget Cecilia CRAMPTON
Religion:   Roman Catholic



Death which has of late been so busy in this community carrying off many of the old identities of the district has claimed another victim in the person of Mr. M. J. Fay, of the Metropolitan Hotel.

The deceased gentleman had for some years suffered from kidney troubles and succumbed yesterday morning to an attack which seized him about a fortnight ago.  

In Mr. Fay we lose one of the very earliest pioneers of this district, he having arrived here on the 13th of February, 1863 in the steamship Murray (Captain Till), among his shipmates being Mr. and Mrs. C. Keeley, Mr. Donald Beaton, Mr. A. Shiels, Mr. W. Bagley and Mr. William Landells, who are still in the district, and the late Messrs. John Allen and Michael McCluskey.  About three weeks earlier there arrived Messrs. R. Fleming and Geo. Voysey and the late Mrs. J. Barnes (then Mrs. Jeffreys).

The Fay Family Plot Headstone, Mackay Cemetery
(Glen Hall Collection, taken 10 November 2004.)

Mr. Fay started almost immediately as a general storekeeper, a business in which he was off and on engaged for some years.  He was at one time distiller at the Alexandra, and he occupied the position of Sheriff's officer for a couple of years.  He was at one time lessee of the Criterion Hotel here, that building being now occupied by the Union Bank, and he was engaged as a carrier and mail contractor for some time.  In whatever business he was employed he was always one of those who devoted an intelligent energy to his work and he leaves behind him none but the kindliest memories.  

Mr. Fay was elected an Alderman in 1878, but in 1880 was defeated for Parliamentary honours by the late Mr. Maurice Hume Black.  He retained his seat in the Council for a period of six years, and became Mayor in 1884, having filled the position of Acting-Mayor on previous occasions.  He was the first President elected on the old Northern Separation League and retained his position three years.  In 1886 he was defeated in the Municipal Council election, and since that date has taken no active part in local matters.

Mr. Fay's wife predeceased him some ten or eleven years.  Mr. Fay was a native of Lancashire where he was born in 1841, and from whence he came to Australia at the age of nineteen.  The deceased leaves a grown up family of three daughters and four sons.  The two eldest daughters (Misses Annie and Kate Fay) the two youngest sons (Frank and George) were at home with their father at the time of his death.  The eldest son (William) is in Sydney, and the second son (Joseph) is at Tambo, in the employ of the Electric Telegraph Department.  One daughter (Mary) is married and resides in Brisbane.  The funeral which took place this morning at 10 o'clock was very largely attended by those who desired to pay a last tribute to the memory of one who in his time was one of the most energetic promoters of the progress of Mackay, and who combined with his public qualities many traits of character which endeared him to all with whom he was brought in contact.


The Mackay Standard; Wednesday Evening, December 31st, 1903.

Michael J. Fay

Joined Mr. C. A. Kerr's exploring party at Brisbane about 1861, and in company with others explored and stocked country as far as Peak Downs. Settling in Mackay in 1863, he started as a general storekeeper, which he afterwards abandoned to become a carrier of goods between Mackay and Nebo. Subsequently he became engaged to Mr. J. E. Davidson, Alexandra plantation, to undertake the distillation of rum. Here he made the first gallon of rum in the district (12th October 1868). He was away from the district for some years, and, returning in 1876, took a contract for conveyance of mails to Walkerston-the first service. 


The Jubilee of Mackay, 1862-1912 Fifty Years, Published 1912 by the Daily Mercury, Mackay QLD, pp 7,15.

M. J. Fay, of the Metropolitan Hotel, was one of the oldest licensed victuallers in Mackay, also a pioneer of the district and our hinterland and certainly deserves mention in the early history of Mackay.

Born in 1841 in Lancashire, he arrived in Sydney in 1860 and at once proceeded to Brisbane, where he accepted a position as a clerk. This he resigned nine months later to join C. A. Kerrs' exploring party. In company with others he explored and stocked country as far as Peak Downs.

He settled in Mackay in 1863 and started as a general storekeeper. Later on he abandoned this business to become a carrier of ,goods between Mackay and Nebo. Two years later he became engaged by Mr J. E. Davidson, Alexandria plantation, to undertake the distillation of rum. Here he made the first gallon of rum in the district (October 12, 1868).

In 1869 he was appointed sheriffs officer for the district, which position he resigned in 1871 to re-enter the storekeeping business for S. Bromberg. He next made a tour through New South Wales and Victoria, and on returning to Mackay opened the newly completed Criterion Hotel. This he gave up in 1876 and took a contract for the conveyance of mails to Walkerston (the first service). Later on he again became a storekeeper. He was elected an alderman in 1878, but in 1880 was defeated for Parliamentary honors by Maurice Hume Black, MLA, Minister for Lands. He retained his seat in the Council for a period of six years and became Mayor in 1884.

He was the first president elected on the Separation League, and retained his position for three years. He was a committeeman of the Mackay PA and H Association. In 1883 he disposed of his store and erected the largest hotel (the Metropolitan) in the town. In 1886 he was defeated in the Municipal Council election, and after that date took no active part in local matters, but devoted the whole of his attention to the good management of his well known house.


James Perry Remembers Mackay, compiled by Vyvian Mengler, published 2000.pp50 (article appeared in the Daily Mercury, November 1, 1944.)

Michael Fay was the Licensee of the Criterion Hotel from 1874 to 1876 which was located on the corner of Sydney and Victoria Streets on the site of the present ANZ Bank (2002).This hotel was built on the site of the original Queens hotel which was destroyed by fire in 1872. It was later the site of the Union Bank of Australia.

He then built the original Metropolitan Hotel on the corner of Gordon and Carlisle Streets in 1882. He remained licensee from 1882 to 1895. The hotel remained in the Fay family until it was sold in 1949.

His son George Bergin Fay was also a mayor of Mackay in 1914-1915 and is buried in the same plot at Mackay cemetery.

Information Sources:

Queensland Births Deaths and Marriages, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane; Deaths 1900-1904, Microfische Sheet No. 002, Page No. 378, Registration No. 03 / 002832.

Mackay Branch Genealogical Society of Qld. Mackay Cemetery Burial Register. 

Mackay Branch Genealogical Society of Qld. Mackay Cemetery Monumental Inscriptions.

Norris, Merle. (1996) Queensland Hotels and Publicans Index (1843-1900).[Microfische]. Brisbane, QLD: Qld Family History Society.

Mackay Family History Society Archives

Queensland Pioneers Index, 1829-1889

Queensland Federation Index 1890-1914.

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