Jessie Barnard

Member of the Federal Territory War Food Fund, 1914-1918

Jessie Margaret Barnard was a founding committee member of the Federal Territory War Food Fund, convened in August 1914, soon after the outbreak of World War I. According to the Queanbeyan Age, the fund was established to 'assist in relieving the great amount of distress which is inseparable from war.'

Jessie Margaret McFarlan was born to Mary Nairn and James McFarlan, Victualler, in Glenlyon, Victoria in 1868. She married Robert James Allman Barnard (1866-1945) in Melbourne in 1895, and gave birth to two daughters – Helen Macfarlan Barnard, born in London, England in 1903, and Mildred Macfarlan Barnard, born in Melbourne, Australia in 1908. Jessie and family moved to Canberra in 1911 after her husband was appointed foundation professor of mathematics at the Royal Military College (RMC), Duntroon. Mildred Barnard (1908-2000) was later to have a distinguished career as a biometrician and mathematician.

On 21 August 1914, soon after World War I erupted, Jessie Barnard attended the inaugural meeting of the Federal Territory War Food Fund convened by the Territory Administrator’s wife, Jane Miller, at the Residency in Acton. According to a report in the Queanbeyan Age on 25 August 1914, a representative group of women residents of Canberra and surrounding districts attended the meeting and supported the establishment of a local branch of the War Food Fund, which had been established by the Sydney Chamber of Commerce to ‘assist in relieving the great amount of distress which is inseparable from war.’ Jessie and Nina Macartney, the wife of Duntroon instructor, Captain Henry Dundas Keith Macartney, were elected to represent the RMC Duntroon community on the committee, while the Queanbeyan Age reported that ‘Mrs. Parnell, wife of the Commandant of the Royal Military College, promised to do all in her power to make the movement a success so far as the college was concerned.’ (‘Patriotic Fund Canberra’, 1914).

Jessie and Nina’s work appears to have been behind the scenes. In illustration of the hierarchy of military life, it is Ida Parnell who is mentioned at the fundraising social events.

By the early 1920s the Barnard family had moved back to Melbourne where Robert Barnard became senior lecturer in mathematics at the University of Melbourne.

Jessie died in Victoria, Australia in 1948.


Explore further resources about Jessie Barnard in the Australian Women's Register.