Mary Leigh

Mary Leigh

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Mary Brown was born in Manchester in 1885. She was a schoolteacher until her marriage to a builder named Leigh. In 1906 Leigh joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

During the summer of 1908 the WSPU introduced the tactic of breaking the windows of government buildings. On 30th June suffragettes marched into Downing Street and began throwing small stones through the windows of the Prime Minister's house. As a result of this demonstration, twenty-seven women, including Mary Leigh, were arrested and sent to Holloway Prison.

When they were released on 23rd August, they were greeted by a brass band and accorded a ceremonial welcome breakfast attended by the two main leaders of the WSPU, Emmeline Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst. After this Mary Leigh became the drum-major of the WSPU drum and fife band, which often accompanied their processions and demonstrations.

On 13th October 1908 she took part in another protest outside the House of Commons. During the demonstration she attempted to seize the bridle of a police horse, and was sentenced to three months' imprisonment. That year, she spent more than a total of six months in prison.

On 22nd September 1909 Mary Leigh, Charlotte Marsh, Rona Robinson and Laura Ainsworth conducted a rooftop protest at Bingley Hall, Birmingham, where Herbert Asquith was addressing a meeting from which all women had been excluded. Using an axe, Leigh removed slates from the roof and threw them at the police below. Sylvia Pankhurst later recalled: "No sooner was this effected, however, than the rattling of missiles was heard on the other side of the hall, and on the roof of the house, thirty feet above the street, lit up by a tall electric standard was seen the little agile figure of Mary Leigh, with a tall fair girl (Charlotte Marsh) beside her. Both of them were tearing up the slates with axes, and flinging them onto the roof of the Bingley Hall and down into the road below-always, however, taking care to hit no one and sounding a warning before throwing. The police cried to them to stop and angry stewards came rushing out of the hall to second this demand, but the women calmly went on with their work."

As Michelle Myall has pointed out: "The police attempted to move the two women by, among other methods, turning a hosepipe on them and throwing stones. However, Charlotte Marsh and Mary Leigh proved to be formidable opponents and were only brought down from the roof when three policeman dragged them down."

Leigh, Rona Robinson, Charlotte Marsh and Laura Ainsworth were all sentenced to two weeks' imprisonment. On arriving at Winson Green Prison, on 22nd September, she broke the window in her cell in protest, demanding to be treated as a political offender. "Accordingly at nine o'clock in the evening I was taken to the punishment cell, a cold dark room on the ground floor - light only shines on very bright days - with no furniture in it." The four women decided to go on hunger-strike, a strategy developed by Marion Wallace-Dunlop a few weeks earlier. Wallace-Dunlop had been immediately released when she had tried this in Holloway Prison, but the governor of Winson Green Prison, was willing to feed the three women by force.

C.P. Scott wrote to Asquith complaining of the "substantial injustice of punishing a girl like Miss Marsh with two months hard labour plus forcible feeding." According to Elizabeth Crawford, the author of The Suffragette Movement (1999): "The Prison Visiting Committee reported that at first she had to be fed by placing food in the mouth and holding the nostrils, but that she later took food from a feeding cup." Votes for Women, on her release, reported that Charlotte Marsh had been fed by tube 139 times.

Mary Leigh later described what it was like to be force-fed: "On Saturday afternoon the wardress forced me onto the bed and two doctors came in. While I was held down a nasal tube was inserted. It is two yards long, with a funnel at the end; there is a glass junction in the middle to see if the liquid is passing. The end is put up the right and left nostril on alternative days. The sensation is most painful - the drums of the ears seem to be bursting and there is a horrible pain in the throat and the breast. The tube is pushed down 20 inches. I am on the bed pinned down by wardresses, one doctor holds the funnel end, and the other doctor forces the other end up the nostrils. The one holding the funnel end pours the liquid down - about a pint of milk... egg and milk is sometimes used."

Leigh's graphic account of the horrors of forcible feeding was published while she was still in prison. Afraid that she might die and become a martyr, it was decided to release her. A few days after leaving prison, Mary Leigh, Emily Davison and Constance Lytton were caught throwing stones at a car taking David Lloyd George to a meeting in Newcastle. The stones were wrapped in Emily's favourite words: "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God."

The women were found guilty and sentenced to one month's hard labour at Strangeways Prison. The women went on hunger strike but once again the prison authorities decided to force-feed the women. The WSPU initiated legal proceedings against the home secretary, prison governor, and prison doctor on Mary Leigh's behalf, opening a defence fund in her name. The case was brought to trial in December 1909, and the jury found for the defence, upholding the defence's claim that forcible feeding had been necessary to preserve life and that minimum force had been used.

On her release Leigh continued to take part in WSPU protests. On 21st November 1911 she was again arrested, following the organized window-breaking campaign which accompanied another deputation to the House of Commons, and was sentenced to two months' hard labour for assaulting a policeman.

On 18th July 1912 she went to the Theatre Royal, Dublin, where Herbert Asquith had recently seen a performance, and set fire to the curtains, threw a burning chair into the orchestra pit, and set off several small bombs. She was convicted and sentenced to five years' penal servitude. Leigh undertook a hunger strike of six weeks, which left her in an emaciated condition, and she was released on licence.

Like other members of the WSPU, Mary Leigh began to question the leadership of Emmeline Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst. These women objected to the way that the Pankhursts were making decisions without consulting members. Leigh now joined the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELF), an organization formed by Sylvia Pankhurst. In October 1913 Leigh was badly injured during scuffles with the police at an ELF meeting at Bow Baths.

Mary Leigh continued to work with the ELF long after the WSPU's campaign ceased in 1914. During the First World War she applied for war service, but was rejected because of her criminal record. Using her maiden name, Brown, she gained a place on an RAC course to train as an ambulance driver.

In January, 1917, the House of Commons began discussing the possibility of granting women the vote in parliamentary elections. Herbert Asquith, the Prime Minister during the militant suffrage campaign, had always been totally against women having the vote. However, during the debate he confessed he had changed his mind and now supported the claims of the NUWSS, WSPU and the Women's Freedom League.

On 28th March, 1917, the House of Commons voted 341 to 62 that women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5 or graduates of British universities. MPs rejected the idea of granting the vote to women on the same terms as men. In 1919 Parliament passed the Sex Disqualification Removal Act which made it illegal to exclude women from jobs because of their sex.

A bill was introduced in March 1928 to give women the vote on the same terms as men. There was little opposition in Parliament to the bill and the 1928 Equal Franchise Act became law on 2nd July 1928. As a result, all women over the age of 21 could now vote in elections.

Mary Leigh joined the Labour Party and every year she made the pilgrimage to Morpeth, Northumberland, to tend the grave of Emily Wilding Davison. According to her biographer, Michelle Myall: "Little is known of Mary Leigh's life after this time. She apparently took part in the first Aldermaston march (1958), and as a committed socialist regularly attended the May day processions in Hyde Park."

In 1965 she gave an interview with David Mitchell where she recalled with pride her days in the WSPU, and stood by her actions as a suffragette. It is not known when she died.

Mary Leigh and her colleagues, who were organising there, began by copying the police methods so far as to address a warning to the public not to attend Mr. Asquith's meeting, as disturbances were likely to ensue, and immediately the authorities were seized with panic. A great tarpaulin was stretched across the glass roof of the Bingley Hall, a tall fire escape was placed on each side of the building, and hundreds of yards of firemen's hoses were laid across the roof. Wooden barriers, nine feet high, were erected along the station platform and across all the leading thoroughfares in the neighbourhood, whilst the ends of the streets both in front and at the back of Bingley Hall were sealed up by barricades. Nevertheless, inside those very sealed-up streets, numbers of Suffragettes had been lodging for days past and were quietly watching the arrangements.

When Mr. Asquith left the House of Commons for his special train, detectives and policemen hemmed him in on every side, and when he arrived at the station in Birmingham, he was smuggled to the Queen's Hotel by a back subway a quarter of a mile in length and carried up in a luggage lift.

Meanwhile, tremendous crowds were thronging the streets and the ticket holders were watched as closely as spies in time of war. They had to pass four barriers and were squeezed through them by a tiny gangway and then passed between long lines of police and amid an incessant roar of "show your ticket." The vast throngs of people who had no tickets and had only come out to see the show surged against the barriers like great human waves, and occasionally cries of "Votes for Women" were greeted with deafening cheers.

Inside the hall there were armies of stewards and groups of police at every turn. The meeting began by the singing of a song of freedom led by a band of trumpeters. Then the Prime Minister appeared. "For years past the people have been beguiled with unfulfilled promises," he declared, but during his speech he was again and again reminded, by men, of the unfulfilled promises which had been made to women; and, though men who interrupted him on other subjects were never interfered with, these champions of the Suffragettes were, in every case, set upon with a violence which was described by onlookers as "revengeful" and "vicious." Thirteen men were maltreated in this way.

Meanwhile, amid the vast crowds outside women were fighting for their freedom. Cabinet Ministers had sneered at them and taunted them with not being able to use physical force. "Working men have flung open the franchise door at which the ladies are scratching," Mr. John Burns had said. So now they were showing that, if they would, they could use violence, though they were determined that, at any rate as yet, they would hurt no one. Again and again they charged the barricades, one woman with a hatchet in her hand, and the friendly people always pressed forward with them. In spite of a thousand police the first barrier was many times thrown down. Whenever a woman was arrested the crowd struggled to secure her release, and over and over again they were successful, one woman being snatched from the constables no fewer than seven times.

Inside the hall Mr. Asquith had not only the men to contend with, for the meeting had not long been in progress when there was a sudden sound of splintering glass and a woman's voice was heard loudly denouncing the Government. A missile had been thrown through one of the ventilators by a number of Suffragettes from an open window in a house opposite. The police rushed to the house door, burst it open, and scrambled up the stairs, falling over each other in their haste to reach the women, and then dragged them down and flung them into the street, where they were immediately placed under arrest. Even whilst this was happening there burst upon the air the sound of an electric motor horn which issued from another house near by. Evidently there were Suffragettes there too. The front door of this house was barricaded and so also was the door of the room in which the women were, but the infuriated Liberal stewards forced their way through and wrested the instrument from the woman's hands.

No sooner was this effected, however, than the rattling of missiles was heard on the other side of the hall, and on the roof of the house, thirty feet above the street, lit up by a tall electric standard was seen the little agile figure of Mary Leigh, with a tall fair girl beside her (Charlotte Marsh). The police cried to them to stop and angry stewards came rushing out of the hall to second this demand, but the women calmly went on with their work. A ladder was produced and the men prepared to mount it, but the only reply was a warning to "he careful" and all present felt that discretion was the better part of valour. Then the fire hose was dragged forward, but the firemen refused to turn it on, and so the police themselves played it on the women until they were drenched to the skin. The slates had now become terribly slippery, and the women were in great danger of sliding from the steep roof, but they had already taken off their shoes and so contrived to retain a foothold, and without intermission they continued "firing" slates. Finding that water had no power to subdue them, their opponents retaliated by throwing bricks and stones up at the two women, but, instead of trying, as they had done, to avoid hitting, the men took good aim at them and soon blood was running, down the face of the tall girl, Charlotte Marsh, and both had been struck several times.

At last Mr. Asquith had said his say and came hurrying out of the building. A slate was hurled at the back of his car as it drove away, and then "firing" ceased from the roof, for the Cabinet Minister was gone. Seeing that they now had nothing to fear the police at once placed a ladder against the house and scrambled up to bring the Suffragettes down, and then, without allowing them to put on their shoes, they marched them through the streets, in their stockinged feet, the blood streaming from their wounds and their wet garments clinging to their limbs. At the police station bail was refused and the two women were sent to the cells to pass the night in their drenched clothing.

We knew that Mary Leigh, Charlotte Marsh, and their comrades in the Birmingham prison would carry out the hunger-strike, and, on the following Friday, September 24, reports appeared in the Press that the Government had resorted to the horrible expedient of feeding them by force by means of a tube passed into the stomach. Filled with concern, the committee of the Women's Social and Political Union at once applied both to the prison and to the Home Office to know if this were true but all information was refused.

I was then surrounded and forced back onto the chair, which was tilted backward. There were about ten persons around me. The doctor then forced my mouth so as to form a pouch, and held me while one of the wardresses poured some liquid from a spoon; it was milk and brandy. After giving me what he thought was sufficient, he sprinkled me with eau de cologne, and wardresses then escorted me to another cell on the first floor, where I remained two days. On Saturday afternoon the wardresses forced me onto the bed and the two doctors came in with them. The end is put up the right and left nostril on alternate days. Great pain is experienced during the process, both mental and physical. One doctor inserted the end up my nostril white I was held down by the wardresses, during which process they must have seen my pain, for the other doctor interfered (the matron and two of the wardresses were in tears), and they stopped and resorted to feeding me by the spoon, as in the morning. More eau dc cologne was used. The food was milk. I was then put to bed in the cell, which is a punishment cell on the first floor. The doctor felt my pulse and asked me to take food each time, but I refused.

On Sunday he came in and implored me to lie amenable and have food in the proper way. I still refused. I was fed by the spoon up to Saturday, October 2, three times a day. From four to five wardresses and the two doctors were present on each occasion. Each time the same doctor forced my mouth, while the other doctor assisted, holding my nose on nearly every occasion. On Monday, September 27, I was taken to a hospital cell, where I was fed by spoon in similar fashion. On Tuesday, the twenty-eighth, a feeding cup was used for the first time, and Benger's Food poured into my mouth for breakfast and supper, and beef-tea mid-day.

On Tuesday afternoon I overheard Miss Edwards, on issuing from the padded cell opposite, call out, "Locked in a padded cell since Sunday." I called out to her, but she was rushed into it. I then applied (Tuesday afternoon) to see the visiting magistrates. I saw them, and wished to know if one of our women was in a padded cell, and, if so, said she must be allowed out. I knew she had a weak heart and was susceptible to excitement, and it would be very bad for her if kept there longer. I was told no prisoner could interfere on behalf of another; any complaint on my own behalf would be listened to. I then said this protest of mine must be made on behalf of this prisoner, and if they had no authority to intervene on her behalf, it was no use applying to them for anything. After they had gone I made my protest by breaking eleven panes in my hospital cell. I was then fed in the same way by the feeding cup and taken to the padded cell, where I was stripped of all clothing and a night dress and bed given to me. As they took Miss Edwards out they put me into her bed, which was still warm. The cell is lined with some padded stuff-india-rubber or something. There was no air, and it was suffocating. This was on Tuesday evening.

I remained there until the Wednesday evening, still being fed by force. I was then taken back to the same hospital cell, and remained there until Saturday, October 2, noon, feeding being continued in the same way. On Saturday, October 2, about dinner time, I determined on stronger measures by barricading my cell. I piled my bed, table, and chair by jamming them together against the door. They had to bring some men warders to get in with iron staves. I kept them at bay about three hours. They threatened to use the fire hose. They used all sorts of threats of punishment. When they got in, the chief warder threatened me and tried to provoke me to violence. The wardresses were there, and he had no business to enter my cell, much less to use the threatening attitude. I was again placed in the padded cell, where I remained until Saturday evening. I still refused food, and I was allowed to starve until Sunday noon. Food was brought, but not forced during that interval.

Sunday noon, four wardresses and two doctors entered my cell and forcibly fed me by the tube through the nostrils with milk. Sunday evening, I was also fed through the nostril. I remained in the padded cell until Monday evening, October 4. Since then I have been fed through the nostril twice a day.

The sensation is most painful - the drums of the ears seem to be bursting and there is a horrible pain in the throat and the breast. egg and milk is sometimes used.

When Asquith visited Dublin, on July 18, Irish suffragists met hiin by boat at Kingstown, and shouted to him through megaphones. They rained Votes for Women confetti upon him from an tipper window as he and Redmond were conducted in torchlight procession through the streets, but when they attempted poster parades and an open-air meeting close to the hall where he was speaking, a mob attacked them with extraordinary violence. Countess Markievicz and others were hurt; every woman who happened to be in the streets was assailed. Many unconnected with the movement had to take refuge in shops and houses. The Ancient Order of Hibernians was abroad, determined to punish womanhood for the acts of militant women from England. Mary Leigh had rushed to the carriage in which John Redmond and the Prime Minister were riding and had dropped into it a small hatchet. She was mobbed, but escaped, and afterward she and Gladys Evans had made a spectacular show of setting fire to the Theatre Royal, where Asquith was to speak. They had attended a performance at the theatre, and as the audience was dispersing, Mary Leigh, in full view of numbers of persons, had poured petrol onto the curtains of a box and set fire to them, then flung a flaming chair over the edge of the box into the orchestra. Gladys Evans set a carpet alight, then rushed to the cinema box, threw in a little handbag filled with gunpowder, struck matches, and dropped them in after it. Finding they all went out as they fell, she attempted to get tinder the wire fencing into the box. Several small explosions occurred, produced by amateur bombs made of tin canisters, which, with bottles of petrol and benzine, were afterward found lying about.

Declaring it his duty to pass a sentence calculated to have a deterrent effect, Justice Madden sentenced both Mary Leigh and Gladys Evans to five years' penal servitude. He expressed the hope that when militancy were discontinued the term would he reduced. "It will have no deterrent effect upon us," responded Mary Leigh in defiant tones.

On reaching London we at once summoned a general meeting of the Federation. The members at first declared they would not be "thrown out" of the W.S.P.U., nor would they agree to a change of name. I persuaded them at last that refusal would open the door to acrimonious discussions, which would hinder our work and deflect attention from the cause. The name of our organisation was then debated. The East London Federation of the Suffragettes was suggested by someone, and at once accepted with enthusiasm. I took no part in the decision. Our colours were to be the old purple, white, and green, with the addition of red - no change, as a matter of fact, for we had already adopted the red caps of liberty. Mother, annoyed by our choice of name, hastened down to the East End to expostulate; she probably anticipated objections from Paris. "We are the Suffragettes! that is the name we are always known by," she protested, "and there will be the same confusion as before!" I told her the members had decided it, and I would not interfere.

In the East End, with its miserable housing, its ill-paid casual employment and harsh privations bravely borne by masses of toilers, life wore another aspect. The yoke of poverty oppressing all was a factor no one-sided propaganda could disregard. The women speakers who rose up from the slums were struggling, day in, day out, with the ills which to others were merely hearsay. Sometimes a group of them went with me to the drawing-rooms of Kensington and Mayfair; their speeches made a startling impression upon those women of another world, to whom hard manual toil and the lack of necessaries were unknown. Many of the W.S.P.U. speakers came down to us as before: Mary Leigh, Amy Hicks, Theodora Bonwick, Mary Paterson, Mrs. Bouvier, that brave, persistent Russian, and many others; but it was from our own East End speakers that our movement took its life. There was wise, logical Charlotte Drake of Custom House, who, left an orphan with young brothers and sisters, had worked both as barmaid and sewing machinist, and who recorded in her clear memory incidents, curious, humorous, and tragic, which stirred her East End audiences by their truth.

Melvina Walker was born in Jersey and had been a lady's maid; many a racy story could she tell of the insight into "High Life" she had gained in that capacity. For a long period she was one of the most popular open-air speakers in any movement in London. She seemed to me like a woman of the French Revolution. I could imagine her on the barricades, waving the bonnet rouge, and urging on the fighters with impassioned cries. When she was in the full flood of her oratory, she appeared the very embodiment of toiling, famine-ridden, proletarian womanhood.

Mrs. Schlette, a sturdy old dame, well on in her sixties, came forward to make a maiden oration without hesitation, and soon was able to hold huge crowds for an hour and a half at a stretch. Mrs. Cressell, afterward a Borough Councillor; Florence Buchan, a young girl discharged from a jam factory, the reason being given by the forewoman: "What do you want to kick up a disturbance of a night with the Suffagettes"; Mrs. Pascoe, one of our prisoners, supporting by charing and home work a tubercular husband and an orphan boy she had adopted-but a few of the many who learnt to voice their claims.

Mary Leigh

If Mary Leigh was the person you were looking for, you may be able to discover more about them by looking at our resources page.

If you have more hunting to do, try a new search or browse the convict records.

Know more about Mary Leigh?

Community Contributions

Carol Axton-Thompson on 8th February, 2013 wrote:

Mary Leigh was convicted at Chester and transported to New South Wales on the ‘Maria’ 1818 and then to Van Diemen’s Land on the ‘Elizabeth Henrietta’ arriving 15/01/1819.

Father: John Lea
Mother: Margaret Taylor
Born 1793 Greenock Parish, Rendrew, Scotland.
Baptised 03/02/1793 Old Parish, Greenock.
Single market woman.

Van Diemens Land: convict no. 42187

Married William Gangell (sometimes spelt ‘Gingell’) 25/01/1819 Hobart. (Note how soon after her arrival - often then the custom for men to the Factory to choose a wife.

Carol Axton-Thompson on 8th February, 2013 wrote:

Colonial Secretary’s Office, 9th March, 1843.
Tickets-of- Leave have been granted to the under- mentioned Convicts, viz. . Mary Leigh, Maria and Elizabeth Henrietta (Hobart Courier 17/3/1843)

Death notice: GANGELL.—On 27th October, at Hobart Town, Mary Gangell, aged 77, relict of the late William Gangell, of Sorell. (Examiner 1/11/1870)

GANGELL.—On 27th October, at her residence, Lower Macquarie street, after a long and painful illness, which she bore with Christian fortitude, Mary Gangell, aged 77, relict of the late William Gangell, of Sorell.(Mercury 5/11/1870)

Cause of death stated as scirrhus of bladder).
Aged 77yrs, farmer’s wife, born Scotland.

Carol Axton-Thompson on 8th February, 2013 wrote:

Convict Conduct Record (page 288):
14/06/1834: Mr. Gangle - abscond from husband and family. House of Correction, hard labour, 3mths.
13/04/1842: Mr. Gangell - absent from service of husband. 3mths hard labour, House of Correction.
10/03/1843: Ticket of Leave
21/10/1845: recommended for a Conditional Pardon for the Colony of Australia. Approved.

Gangell John b. 1818
Alice b. 1819 (m. James Peeves 1836)
Jacob b. 1820 (m. Elizabeth Gell 1845)
Mary b. 1821
Jane b. 1822
Isaac b. 1827
Sarah Ann b. 1828
Susannah b. 1833
David 1840

William Gangell had been previously married, to Ann Miller (widow of John Skelhorn) and they had two children: Hannah b. 1812 & Sarah Ruth b. 1815. Ann died in 1816 so these two children were probably raised along with the children from the second marriage.

William Gangell had been a Royal Marine, arriving in NSW & VDL in 1803. He was discharged in 1812 and given a grant of land, 210 acres at Clarence Plains (eastern shore of Hobart).

Diane Davis on 13th October, 2015 wrote:

William Gangell and his first wife Anne Skelhorn had five children William John (1805-1835) John James Eli (1807-1897) Dorothy Elizabeth (1810-1829) Hannah Grace (1812-1837) and Sarah Ruth (1815-1895)

Diane Davis on 13th October, 2015 wrote:

William Gangell had first a land grant in Clarence Plains of 210 acres granted in 1813 and later in 1832 received a second land grant of 100 acres in Forcett. Both of these per New South Wales Land Grants 1788-1963

Diane Davis on 13th October, 2015 wrote:

source for conviction is Unpublished Family History Research, by Maree Ring Page 96 date unknown The Times, digital archives

Convict Changes History

Carol Axton-Thompson on 8th February, 2013 made the following changes:

source, alias1, alias2, alias3, alias4, date of birth 31st January, 1793, date of death 27th October, 1870, gender

Carol Axton-Thompson on 8th February, 2013 made the following changes:

Karen Murphy on 9th March, 2014 made the following changes:

Diane Davis on 13th October, 2015 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/3, Page Number 23 (13). Tasmanian Pioneer Index BDM: Death ref. 135/1870 Tasmanian Archives - convicts Tasmanian Pioneer Index BDM: Marriage ref. 301/1819 Hobart dist

This record was discovered and printed on

British Convict transportation register made available by the State Library of Queensland

Click on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time.

current13:38, 2 October 20162,872 × 5,769 (3.82 MB) Fæ (talk | contribs) LSE Library, Set 72157660822880401, ID 22981408235, Original title Mary Leigh, c.1909.

You cannot overwrite this file.

HAA007 MAIN: The Long Life of Mary Gangell nee Leigh, (Lea, Lee) 1793 - 1870

Mary Lea, also known as Leigh and Lee, was born in Scotland on 31st of January 1793, in the Parish of Greenock, West or Old, Renfrew Scotland. 1By the age of 23 we find her living, and working as a market girl, in Stockport, in England. In 1817, Mary and her friend, 16 year old Ann Waterhouse, were arrested for larceny. They had stolen six silk handkerchiefs from a shop in Stockport, and upon trial in the Chester Session of Pleas, on 27th August 1817, were both sentenced to death! 2

Mary’s sentence was commuted to 14 years, with transportation to Van Diemen’s Land. 3. To be sentenced ‘For the term of your natural life’, ‘Beyond the sea’ must have still felt like a death sentence . Surely very few ever thought that there would be the possibility of return.

On 19th March she was taken to the Royal Navy brig Mariaanchored in Deal Harbour. Groups of women boarded each day and were checked for contagious diseases, as well as their general health and fitness for the voyage. If they were too ill, they were sent back to prison. 4

On the 15th May 1818, she set sail for Van Diemen’s Land, via Sydney, New South Wales, and most of her 125 companions were also being transported for Larceny. 5

At this time the prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry, was taking a keen interest in the conditions for women, particularly on the convict ships:

‘The next arrangement concerned work for the women, and instruction for the children. Accordingly the ladies looked about for plans and methods whereby the enforced weariness of a long voyage should be counteracted. They had heard that patch work and fancy work found a ready sale in NSW so they hit upon a scheme which should ensure success in more ways than one. Having made known their dilemma, and their desires, they were cheered by receiving from some wholesale houses in London sufficient remnants of cotton print and materials for knitting to furnish all the convicts with work. There was ample time to perfect all arrangements seeing that the ship lay at Deptford about five weeks…… they were informed that if they chose to devote the leisure of the voyage to making up the materials thus placed in their hands, they would be allowed upon arrival at the colony to dispose of the articles for their own profit. Provision was also made for instruction of both women and children on board … and there daily these waifs of humanity learned to read, knit and sew”. . Elizabeth Fry - Forgotten Books 6

From 1817 onwards, the Royal Navy appointed official Naval Surgeons, to supervise the health and wellbeing of all convicts being transported to other countries. This guaranteed that almost all convicts ended up in the colonies, in reasonably good health . The main illnesses were dysentery, fevers and respiratory diseases.

On the other hand, people who were migrating as free settlers, were not cared for so strictly, certainly as far as hygiene was concerned, and many succumbed to illnesses such as the above, and died.

Surgeon Superintendent, on the Maria, for this journey in 1818, was Thomas Prosser. In his journal he noted that the women were given an allowance of lemon juice and wine, and that the prison was kept clean, sprinkled with vinegar, and that the fans were kept going during the warm weather. He also established a strict routine for meals, 8am for breakfast, 12 o’clock dinner, and 4 o’clock supper. At 9 am he attended to the sick list. Every Sunday a church service was held, and all were expected to attend. 7

Upon arrival in Port Jackson, New South Wales, on 17th September 1818, the Maria was met by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. He reported in his journal

‘Thursday 17. Septr. 1818 ! This forenoon anchored in the Harbour the Female Convict Ship "Maria" Commanded by Capt. Henry Williams, and of which Mr. Prosser of the R. Navy is Surgeon Supdt., with 124 Female Convicts – and 25 Children from England – from whence She finally Sailed on the 18th. of May last. — The Female Convicts have all arrived in good Health – but two out of the original number of Women embarked have Died on the Passage’ 8

Half of the women, were sent by water to the Women’s Factory in Parramatta, New South Wales, to await their assignments. Mary was among the group of 30 destined for Port Dalrymple, in Northern Tasmania, and the remaining 30 were to continue on to Hobart Town. After 2 weeks the women heading for Van Diemen’s Land boarded the ship Elizabeth Henrietta and set sail.

Upon reaching Port Dalrymple, 30 women were disembarked. Mary Leigh's name was No 20 on the list of women bound for Launceston, but somehow she was detained and arrived in the Derwent on 14th November 1818. 9

The women were then marched through the town, to their final destination, the Female Factory at Cascades. 10

From the Female Factory, Mary was assigned to William Gangell, a free settler, who had arrived in the colony in 1803, with the founder of the Hobart Town settlement, Lieutenant David Collins, aboard the Calcutta. Gangell had been the Sergeant of Marines at the time, and was billeted with a widow Mrs Ann Skelhorn, to whom he was married some 3 months later, and with whom he fathered 5 children, before she died on 2nd January 1817. 11 Their children were William Henry, James, Dorothy, Hannah and Sarah. According to family history, theirs was the first european marriage to be performed in Tasmania, by Reverend Knopwood.

It is not clear if Mary’s son John was born at sea, but on his Notice of Baptism at age 19 months, on 29 October 1820, his birth date is given as 6th April 1818, almost 6 months before she landed in New South Wales. 12

Mary and William Gangell were married on 25th January 1819, at St David’s Church of England in Hobart, about 6 weeks before the birth of their first child together, Alice. 13 By this time William Gangell, retired Marine, had been granted 210 acres of land at Clarence Plains, from which he supplied wheat and meat to the government. 14

From the age of 25 to the age of 46, Mary – convict and now farmer’s wife – went on to deliver 11 more children: Alice, Jacob, Mary Ann, Jane, Isaac, Sarah Ann, Charles, Elizabeth, Maria, Susannah, and David. These 11, plus William’s previous brood of 5 and of course Mary’s illegitimate son, John, meant that by the age of 46 Mary had cared for 17 children, plus her husband William, and no doubt done her share of farm chores. 15

In the winter of 1834, aged 41, Mary ran away . As she was still a convict, she was caught and sent to the Cascades Female Factory for a period of 3 months hard labour.

She was returned to the custody of her husband, and then in 1840, at the age of 46, her last child, David was born. Two years later she absconded once again, and once again she was punished with 3 months of hard labour. I can’t help thinking that it may well have felt like a holiday to Mary! 16

In 1843 a Ticket of Leave was granted to Mary, who was now aged 50. 17

In 1845 she was recommended for a Conditional Pardon for the Colony of Australia. The annotation : "Only two trivial records having been made against her during twenty-seven years that she has been in the Colony. She has been many years married."

In 1846 William Gangell died, at Pittwater, Tasmania. 18

The coroner found that he had died of a ‘Visitation of God, Scirrhus of Bladder’. He was aged 72.19

The Census of 1848 finds Mary now living in Bathurst St, Hobart Town, in the company of either a married daughter or son, and 5 young people. One male in the household was a whaler and one female a shopkeeper. 20

On the 27/10/1870 a Death Certificate was issued for Mary Gangell, aged 77, Farmer’s wife. Born Scotland, Died Macquarie St. Cause of death ‘Senilis’ 21

A death notice in The Mercury 5th November 1870

“On 27th October, at her residence, Lower Macquarie St, after a long and painful illness, which she bore with Christian fortitude. Mary Gangell, aged 77, relict. Of the late William Gangell, of Sorell22

1., Selected Births and Baptisms, Scotland 1564 - 1950 [database on-line]

2, 3., England and Wales Criminal Registers, 1791 - 1892 [database on-line]

4. From notes taken from transcript of lecture by Professor Hamish Maxwell - Stewart. Module 3, Voyaging to the Penal Colonies, Chapter 2 The Sea Voyage

5., NSW Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790 - 1849

6. Extract from Elizabeth Fry, by Mrs E R Pitman, Forgotten Books, London, n.d.

7., U.K. Royal Navy Medical Journals 1817 - 1857, Maria 1818

8, 9. New South Wales, Colonial Secretary's Papers 1788 - 1825

10. From notes taken from transcript of lecture by Professor Hamish Maxwell - Stewart. Module 3, Voyaging to the Penal Colonies, Chapter 3 Arriving at the Penal Colony

11., Australian Marriage Index, 1778 - 1950

12. Tasmanian Government, LINC, Tasmanian Names Index for John Gangell

13. Tasmanian Government, Australian Marriage Index, 1788 - 1950

14. Tasmania, Australia, Deeds of Land Grants, 1804-1935 for William John Gangell,Deeds of Land Grants,

15. Tasmanian Government, LINC, Tasmanian Names Index.

16. Female Convicts in V.D.L. Database.

17., New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia. Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave 1834 - 1859

18,19. Tasmanian Government, LINC, Indexes to Hobart, Launceston, and Country Deaths, 1838 - 1899

20. Van Diemen's Land : census of the year 1848 [Census Commission].

21. Tasmanian Government, LINC. Deaths in the District of Hobart, 1870

22. TROVE. The Hobart Mercury, Saturday Morning, November 5, 1870

5 Blog Posts on Climate

Andrew Johnson - "How does climate change affect how our society functions as a whole?"
Janvi Patel - "Why is our climate changing so rapidly?"
Victoria Spera - "How is a climate determined?"
Hunter McEwen - "Is global warming real?"
Avani Reddy - "How does the climate of one region affect another region? what are some of the specific climate patterns?"



Climate change is such a prominent discussion because of peoples beliefs in global warming, so it think of the word change when I hear the word climate.
Also, when thinking of the word climate I think of the weather and the temperature changes.

Why do people automatically assume that we people are the cause of climate change?


Wolfe at a conference as ASABE President.

Wolfe was first introduced to the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech and continues to be actively involved in the professional society. At an ASABE conference circa 1990, her department head caught her in the hallway to tell her that he had just nominated her to be on ASABE’s Accreditation Committee and become an ABET Program Evaluator. She went on her first program site visit in 1991 and joined the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) as a Commission member in 2000. The rest, you can say, is history. She’s served in each leadership position within the EAC as well as on numerous ABET committees and councils with organization-wide impact. Currently, Wolfe serves as chair of the Nominating Committee and Awards Committee in addition to her roles as ABET Past-President and chair of the IDEA Council. She was 2015-16 ASABE President and continues to serve on its Accreditation Committee.

Wolfe, second from left, at the 2017 ABET Awards Celebration.

In 2006, her dedication and efforts in biological engineering education and accreditation led to her distinction as the first woman elected as an ASABE Fellow and, in 2020, recipient of ASABE’s Massey-Ferguson Educational Gold Medal. In 2009, she earned the title of ABET Fellow as well as induction into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) 2009 College of Fellows.

“The ABET accreditation process really makes a big difference for departments and programs, and that’s why I’ve stayed with it for all these years,” Wolfe explained. “You can see the mission of educational quality assurance and continuous improvement happening it benefits students, it benefits industry and, ultimately, it benefits the world.”

Dentistry News

It’s no secret that dentistry is an excellent profession, and most dentists love their jobs. However, most would also agree that much of their four years of dental school were spent grinding, just putting one foot in front of the other to push to the end. Dr. Mary Leigh Gillespie is the exception.

“I loved dental school! I’m one of the few people who would actually choose to go back and relive it,” she said. “Academically speaking, it was certainly hard. But the hands-on aspect was a real treat for me. I wasn’t at the top of the class, but I’m a hard worker and very determined and driven. I had to put in a lot of extra hours studying, but working in the lab was fun for me, and of course interacting with patients in clinic was an absolute joy.”

Dr. Gillespie is from the Shoals of Alabama, and her hometown pride runs deep. Born in Tuscumbia, Ala., she went to high school in Florence and stayed close by for college, attending the University of North Alabama (UNA) before she entered the School of Dentistry at UAB. “We loved living in Birmingham. We had a lot of fun during dental school – we attended concerts, we ate a lot of good food. It was a great place to live, but I’m a hometown kid and we moved back as soon as we graduated. And by ‘we,’ I mean myself and my husband, Bradley, because he basically went through dental school with me!” she joked.

As a young woman, Mary Leigh wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue a career in health care. “My mom is a nurse, and she worked in labor and delivery for many years. I remember her always talking about taking care of patients,” Mary Leigh recalls. “I considered medicine, but I knew I wanted a family and to not be stuck in the hospital or on-call 24/7. My mom’s best friend’s husband is a dentist, Dr. James Stoddard, and I spent time shadowing him while I was still in school at UNA. That’s when I decided to apply to dental school.”

Looking back, Dr. Gillespie admits that she was somewhat destined to become a dentist because of her uncle, Dr. William “Bill” Ashley. “My uncle was a member of one of the very first graduating classes of the oral surgery program at UAB, the class of 1952. Fast forward fifty years, and he was the one that handed me my dental degree when I graduated in 2002! It was so special. But it was through Uncle Bill that I met Dr. Charles “Scotty” McCallum. I’ll never forget how welcomed he made me feel to campus. At the time when I was interviewing with the School of Dentistry, I went to dinner at his house. We talked about anything and everything, and I’ll never forget the way Dr. McCallum made me feel like a friend, and that he truly cared about me. If we could all do just half the good work Scotty McCallum did, the world would be a much better place.”

Dr. McCallum isn’t the only faculty member that Dr. Gillespie remembers with deep fondness and who shaped her career as a dentist. “I can’t talk about dental school without first mentioning Dr. Dick Weems. I probably followed him around like a shadow! Dr. Liu and Dr. Hsu were both terrific prosthodontists to learn from. Dr. Jean O’Neil was a fantastic teacher, and to this day when I’ve visited her at her office, she just dives right in and starts teaching again! Dr. David Greer was a very special person, and an amazing advocate for us students.”

“But I can’t talk about great UAB School of Dentistry professors without mentioning Dr. Patrick Louis. He is amazing. My father passed away while I was in dental school to multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer. His funeral was around the same time as some of our finals, and I was faced with the reality of possibly receiving zeros for any finals that I missed in order to go home for the funeral. Dr. Louis went to bat for me, though. He was so compassionate. To this day, I still get a little star struck by him because he’s just so smart! He’s a terrific educator and oral surgeon, and just a great man.”

Mary Leigh returned back home to the Shoals after she graduated from dental school, and began practicing as an associate with Dr. James Ryerson. She eventually became a partner at Dr. Ryerson’s practice, until 2014 when she opened Dynamic Dentistry of the Shoals with Dr. Julie Rice. For twelve years, Mary Leigh had been involved with Dr. Ryerson’s “Dentistry from the Heart,” a day-long charity event held around Valentine’s Day each year.

“We’d invite several dentists and oral surgeons to the office to serve as many patients as possible free of charge. Patients could choose one treatment – a cleaning, filling, or extraction,” explained Dr. Gillespie. “When we opened Dynamic Dentistry of the Shoals, we started “Thanksgiving Back a Smile,” a similar event held each November. We’ve held it every year since, including in 2020 during the pandemic. It’s much more of a blessing for me than it is the patients, I think. Times can be hard, and a little generosity goes a long way. It’s my favorite day of the year!”

Whether it’s the patients she’s treating, the community she’s serving, or her own family, Dr. Gillespie loves others generously. And she certainly knows how to have fun!

“I tell my patients that, when I grow up, I’m going to work at Disney World and tell everyone to have a magical day,” laughed Mary Leigh. “I’m a big kid at heart! I love to have fun, whether it’s at work dressing up for Halloween, or playing hard outside the office with my husband and children, Mary McCarley (11) and Jack (10).”

“I think there’s so much more to dentistry than just being a ‘tooth doctor’. You can inspire people to have better health, and a better life. I try to bridge the gap between good oral health and overall health- it’s not just about brushing and flossing! It’s about how oral hygiene can impact us in other ways, too. I want to teach others how to help themselves.”

If you would like to nominate a UAB School of Dentistry alumnus to be featured in an upcoming Alumni Spotlight, please email Elizabeth Carlson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Mary Leigh - History

Mary Leigh Coleman Causey transitioned to everlasting life on October 30 at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland, MS following her fourth courageous battle with cancer. She was 57.

Mary Leigh was born in Natchez, MS on July 24, 1956 to Rev. Wayne and Margaret Hood Coleman. She attended Oxford City Schools and graduated from Clinton High School in 1974. While attending Mississippi College, Mary Leigh was a member of Kissimee Social Tribe, The Naturals and was named to Whos Who in American Colleges and Universities. She graduated in 1979 with her degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. In 1978, she married William W. Causey, Jr.

Mary Leigh worked as a special education teacher at Hudspeth Regional Center and later in the Clinton Public Schools. In recent years she was a loving caregiver to both of her parents.

She began her courageous and inspirational journey with battling cancer and related illnesses at age 22. Her deep faith in Jesus Christ carried her when many thought she could not survive. Never wanting to be defined by her illnesses, Mary Leigh maintained a positive, inspirational attitude throughout her life. She always looked up. Truly an angel on earth to her family and many friends, she always made those who spent time with her feel uplifted and happy with her infectious smile and her wonderful sense of humor. Mary Leigh was an avid animal lover and enjoyed many throughout her lifetime.

The joy of her life was her family. Mary Leigh was a devoted member of First Baptist Church, Raymond, where her husband is on staff. An exemplary Christian, she was very involved in all church activities including singing in the choir, teaching childrens choir and teaching Sunday school. She found her calling in leading the Womens Ministry for many years.

Mary Leigh will be long remembered with love by all who knew her.

Mary Leigh was preceded in death by her parents and her brother in law, Billy Thames.
Mary Leigh is survived by her husband of 35 years, Billy Causey of Clinton her beloved sons, Bill and John Causey of Clinton her sister Ann Coleman Thames of Brandon sisters in law, Carol Turner and husband, Keith and Carley Causey of Clinton aunts and uncles, James and Jaunie Coleman of Clinton Bill and Bonnie Coleman of Louisville and Elizabeth and Michael Hall of Austin, TX and Camille and Gordon Riley of Waco, TX as well as many cousins and many special friends.

Visitation will be held on Monday, November 4, at First Baptist Church, Clinton from 58pm and on Tuesday, November 5, at 1pm prior to funeral services at 2pm, with burial to follow in the Clinton Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society , Gideons International, or First Baptist, Raymond.

The Life of Mary Custis Lee

Mary Custis Lee, great-granddaughter of First Lady Martha Washington, has been often portrayed in a negative light wherever her name appears in the annals. It is written that her debilitating arthritis turned her into a constant complainer and that her depressive nature seemed to bring those around her down in spirit. Such conclusions were arrived at based on a few select comments taken out of context from letters her husband wrote to her and to others. Those who concluded such were probably not familiar with Robert's humorous nature and opted to rely on his words instead of his meaning when drawing their conclusions. However, through reading her personal diary and letters written to her husband, family, and friends, we can conclude that she was actually a courageous, selfless, creative woman who managed to solely, for the most part, raise seven children while battling many physical ailments. Although she may have spent years walking in the shadow of her husband, in reality she was a guiding light and a pillar of strength-not just during the darkest days of the Confederacy, but throughout much of her life.

Mary Anna Randolph Custis was born on October 1, 1808 to parents Washington "Wash" Custis and Mary "Molly" Fitzhugh. Two children were born prior to Mary, but neither survived past their first birthday nor did a child born after Mary. Wash Custis, who was the grandson of Martha Washington and was raised by her and George Washington after his father's (Martha's son from a previous marriage) death, settled his family in a quaint four-room brick home he named Arlington. As Mary grew, so did Arlington as Wash invested time and money in its expansion.

Life at Arlington

Knowing her heart

As Mary grew, her intellectual talents were not overlooked. In her early teens, she was already reading in French, Greek, and Latin. She prided herself on reading several newspapers a day to keep abreast on current events. She enjoyed history and was thrilled to meet 67-year-old Marquis de Lafayette in 1824 when he spent three days visiting Arlington. Although history stirred her, her real passion was art she was a very talented self-taught painter, choosing to paint the very beauty that surrounded her at Arlington. Those who knew Mary never described her as having a distinguished outer beauty-she had inherited her father's sharp nose and chin-but they were captivated by her grace, charm, and wit. During her late teens, she was considered a social butterfly and many were drawn to her magnetic personality.

At 17, she was introduced to, and briefly courted by, 32-year-old, dashing Sam Houston. Her heart was unmoved. Instead, her joy was founded in a man she'd known since childhood. His name was Robert E Lee. The two were distantly related and often played together at the Ravensworth estate, which was owned by William Fitzhugh, Mary's uncle. In 1824, 16-year-old Mary wasn't surprised to learn that Robert received an appointment at West Point. He was intelligent, studious and responsible-all traits she admired. Unlike her, he excelled in math, the very subject that she was weakest.

From 1824 through 1827, the two grew closer and Mary timed a visit to Kinloch, home of a distant cousin, the same time she knew Robert would be there visiting. It was during this visit, Mary realized with certainty she loved Robert and wanted to marry him. Robert graduated from West Point second in his class and demerit-free in 1829. He journeyed to Arlington for a visit and it was during that time, he asked his "Molly" to marry him. She gave him a resounding yes. After his visit, they relied on letters to share their intimate feelings-letters that Mary never hesitated to share with her mother. However, when Robert found out, he expressed his discomfort that his intimate thoughts went beyond Mary's eyes. She respected his request to have his most private thoughts read only by her and never again shared a letter with her mother.

During this time, Mary also began a prayer journal that clearly conveyed her commitment to her faith in God. In this journal she also wrote of her apprehension concerning Robert's faith, which didn't appear to be as strong as hers-a fact she would struggle with for some time. Nonetheless, the two set a wedding date of June 30, 1831, and the planning for the Arlington social event of the year was underway. In November 1830, Mary became gravely ill and wasn't expected to live. Just as she resigned herself to death and placed herself in God's hands, she began to recover. As her body slowly regained its strength, her commitment to God was even more cemented she had faced death and hadn't been afraid.

After weeks of recuperation, the wedding day had arrived. During the service, Mary recalled being taken aback by how handsome Robert looked with his newly-grown sidewhiskers. Robert, in turn, was impressed with her radiance and poise. She had been the envy of many of the young women in attendance. Robert humorously recalled later that the minister had read the vows of the Episcopal service "as if he had been reading my death warrant."

After the ceremony, the newlyweds, along with Mary's mother, journeyed to Ravensworth for a visit. There, Mary once again fell ill with fever. This time her recovery was slower and even when she had recovered and was ready to travel, Robert noticed that the illness, following so closely on the heels of the previous one, had taken its toll on her. She appeared tired and drawn and never fully recovered her coloring. This would be the beginning of many physical ailments that would beset her.

Setting up house

A month prior to the wedding, Robert had received news of his new assignment-Old Point Comfort where Fort Monroe was under construction. The news had pleased the Custis family it meant Mary would remain close to Arlington. Even so, both mother and daughter were faced with somber adjustments when she moved away. Her mother was faced with the loss of the one person she'd doted on most of her life and Mary was faced with the challenges of managing a household without the slaves or her mother nearby to direct matters. Robert picked up on Mary's confusion with taking care of the house and often teased her about her shortcomings and once confided in a letter to a friend, "Mrs. L is somewhat addicted to laziness and forgetfulness in her housekeeping&hellipbut she does her best, or in her mother's words, 'The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.'"

Mary spent her days at Old Point Comfort reading the Bible and enjoying the beauty that surrounded her. She wrote to her mother, "I walk every morning before breakfast on this beautiful beach and inhale the sea breezes which are said to bring health along with them." And although she enjoyed the beauty surrounding her, the fact that she longed for Arlington is clear in a subsequent letter to her mother where she comments, "What would I give for one stroll on the hills at Arlington this bright day?" Christmas was approaching and Mary was feeling apprehensive at the prospects of spending the most blessed holiday away from Arlington. She was pleased when Robert informed her they would indeed be able to make the journey home just in time for the holidays. Mary had felt such joy at being back home that she decided to stay at Arlington after the holidays. Robert made the return trip to Old Point Comfort alone.

Within a few weeks after his departure, Mary was overjoyed to learn she was pregnant. But the joy was short-lived and she became ill again. Her family wondered if she could pull through the illness yet a third time in less than two years. Miraculously, she did. As she recovered, Robert expressed in his letters how much he missed her and wished her to be with him. He was becoming increasingly aware of her attachment to Arlington and decided to wean her of it, which is evident in a letter he wrote to her. "Hasten down," he had teased, "if you do not want to see me turned out a beau again." At six-months pregnant, Mary made the return voyage to Old Point Comfort and there, she and her husband spent their evenings together with Mary sewing clothes for the baby while Robert would lovingly read passages to her.

On September 16, 1832, the first of the Lee brood was born-a healthy son they named George Washington Custis Lee. Robert wrote to his brother Carter of his joy. "I have got me an heir to my estates! Aye, a boy!" Baby George, or "Bouse" as Mary affectionately nicknamed him, grew quickly and the new mother soon realized she had her hands full. She wrote to her mother, "If his energies can only be well directed, they may be the means of much usefulness. But I already shrink from the responsibility. It requires so much firmness and consistency to train up a child in the right way&hellip"

Mary's days were filled with sewing, cleaning, and cooking. Even so, she found occasional time to read and paint. Life at Old Point Comfort was becoming palatable. She even found time to tend to the black children in the fort who were not permitted to worship in the chapel. She opened her home to them and taught Bible classes. She also used her own money to purchase Catechism books for the slaves located at the garrison.

In 1833, the Lees spent their first Christmas apart. Mary returned to Arlington with Bouse while Robert remained at the fort where he was needed. Even though the holiday was dismal for both, January brought good tidings when Robert received news that his next duty station would be Washington. Mary was thrilled at the prospect of being so close to home and actually moved back into Arlington while Robert rented a room closer to his office in the city. He initially feared that Mary's attachment to Arlington would create more problems but strangely, he felt himself becoming very attached to the home too. Even so, he disliked his desk position in Washington and shortly thereafter asked for, and was granted, a transfer. He was assigned to an expedition team that would survey the boundary between Ohio and Michigan.

By this time, Mary, or "May" as Robert was now calling her, was seven months pregnant with their second child. Robert was away when their second child, a girl named Mary Custis Lee, was born on July 12, 1835. Shortly after the birth, Mary became ill once again. Unable to care for the baby, she sent a letter to her husband asking that he return at once. She omitted the details of her ailing health and Robert, not knowing the severity of her condition, brushed aside her request and instead chastised her selfishness. In the meantime, she'd grown weaker, lost her appetite, remained feverish, and developed a chronic stiffness in her legs that was diagnosed as "rheumatic diatheses." Her inner thighs swelled with abscesses and within weeks, she was completely bedridden. She wasn't expected to live and by the time Robert returned to Washington, he was shocked to find her so close to death. She was pale, emaciated, listless and in constant pain. It wasn't until weeks later she began to slowly improve. Robert's worry began to ease up when she began eating again. He wrote to a friend, "May gets better every day&hellipHer appetite is famous and the partridges, buckwheat muffins and etc. disappear at breakfast as fast as the pheasants, chickens and etc at dinner." But her good health was short-lived and within a few months she was bedridden again with pain and swelling in her ears followed by fever and headache. Robert finally resigned himself to the fact that Mary would require extra care with her health. He suggested she travel to Warrenton Springs, located along the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she could bathe in the springs that contained chemicals said to alleviate symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism. Mary did so and as her health returned, she learned she was pregnant with their third child. She also learned that Robert's next assignment was miles from Arlington.

It was St. Louis

On May 30, 1837, William Henry Fitzhugh Lee was born at Arlington and two weeks later, Robert was off to St Louis. It wasn't until Christmas of that year the Lees were all reunited at Arlington that Robert expressed his loneliness and asked Mary to return with him to St. Louis. She did so. While there, she began writing a book on the life of George Washington all the while keeping the house and raising the children-which was quite a feat considering the children were requiring so much of her time and energy. She wrote to her mother about "Rooney," her nickname for the newest member of the family, "[He is] the most mischievous and cunning little fellow you ever saw&hellipExcuse this very stupid and unconnected letter, for Rooney is playing around me pulling my pens, paper and ink and now it trying to throw his Papa's hat out the window."

A few weeks later, Mary learned she was pregnant with their fourth child. A return trip to Arlington was in order. Anne Carter Lee, named after Robert's mother, was born on June 18, 1839 at Arlington. Anne had been born with a large red birthmark on her cheek that worried Mary. Robert on the other hand used the blemish to provide a nickname for his youngest. He called her "little raspberry." Within a few short weeks, Mary fell into a predictable routine at Arlington with the children. She held classes for her two oldest in the very room in which she was schooled as a child. Mealtimes were shared with her children and her parents, followed by a prayer service given by Mary's mother. After the children were put to bed, Mary would spend her time reading, sewing, or writing letters to her husband.

Although she was content at Arlington raising her children, she was aware that something was missing-Robert. He was also growing weary of their separation and expressed the following in a letter to her: "This is a terrible kind of life we lead, Molly, unsatisfactory, profitless & irksome&hellip" Robert found himself back in Washington a few months later when a national depression cut off funding for the St. Louis project he had been working on. The Lees rejoiced in their reunion. Robert, having been separated from his children for much of their young lives, was especially touched at this point in his life. He recalled one afternoon, after having played outdoors with the children, that he and little Custis had taken a walk through the woods. Robert was deeply affected when he'd turned to find Custis stretching to place his feet into each of his father's footprints as they walked. Robert later wrote, "It behooves me to walk very straight, when the little fellow is already following in my tracks."

Contentment in New York

On February 27, 1841, Eleanor Agnes Lee was born at Arlington and shortly thereafter, the family prepared to move to Robert's new duty station: New York. By this time, Mary's hands were full with raising the children, a task she continually struggled with and felt a failure. She felt Robert was disappointed with her inability to effectively parent the children. A couple of times, Robert tried to enlist the aid of Mary's mother to give her guidance on raising the children. Of course, in all fairness to Mary, Robert was never around long enough to parent the children himself and usually did so by way of letter. If anything, Mary should have been praised for her child-rearing efforts-all the while suffering physical ailments. The ensuing years included many return trips to Arlington, and more illnesses for Mary.

On October 27, 1843, Robert Edward Lee Jr was born and by 1845, the family was separating again, but this time it was the children leaving the home to head to boarding school. Mary grew fond of New York and for the first time, enjoyed spending Christmas away from Arlington. She wrote to her mother that it was, "a day of great enjoyment to the young ones&hellipThe children were awake at 4 o-clock this morning discussing the contents of their stockings & could not be induced to sleep again so that I feel pretty tired tonight." She was seven months pregnant at the time. Mildred Childe Lee, named after Robert's sister, was born on February 10, 1846. The seventh pregnancy had taken its toll on Mary and she was again bed-ridden for several months. In May, when Congress declared war on Mexico, Robert asked for and received field duty. Mary and the children returned to Arlington once again, this time to wait out the end of the war&hellip

Part II: The War Years

As Mary moved into the later stages of her life, it&rsquos clear she refused to let her poor health keep her from tending to the needs of her family and friends. Always suffering from constant pain, she went about her life with an unwavering faith in God, a strong love and commitment to her husband and children, and a genuine desire to ease the pain and discomfort of those around her&mdasheven when there was seldom any relief for her own physical suffering. During her idle time after the Civil War, which was rare, Arlington was foremost in her mind and she wondered if she would ever get to see her childhood home again&hellip

The New Lady of Arlington

The main difficulty Mary experienced while her husband was off fighting in the War with Mexico was the task of solely caring for all her children however, the fact that they were back at Arlington made the task a bit easier. After the war, Mary was excited to learn Robert's next post was West Point a blessing that meant the Lees would be close to Custis who was now in his second year at the academy. They were no sooner settled in their quarters in New York that Mary received word that her mother was dying. She immediately left for Arlington but didn&rsquot arrive in time to bid her mother goodbye. Her mother&rsquos passing left her father in deep mourning and Mary knew he was in no condition to see to the funeral arrangements and as she had so often done in the past, she squared her shoulders and took the heavy burden upon herself. She became a pillar of strength as the household fell apart. She was now the new Lady of Arlington.

Shortly after the funeral, Mary returned to West Point where she became popular among the cadets who enjoyed her doting and motherly affection. Some of the students she grew fond of included: Jeb Stuart, John Pegram, and Otis Howard. In 1854, she was pleased when Custis graduated first in his class from West Point. By this time, Rooney was attending Harvard College, having failed to receive an appointment to West Point. No sooner had Mary fallen into a comfortable routine, the family was uprooted once again as Robert accepted a field command in Texas. He dutifully escorted his family back to Arlington and prior to his departure, Mary's father presented him with George Washington's service sword. It was during that visit that Robert noted the disarray of the Arlington finances and worked tirelessly to bring order to the books in the short amount of time he had before reporting to Texas. When it was time for him to leave, he turned the task over to Mary and later wrote to her concerning her additional duties: "As regards your household arrangements & what concerns your father's comfort & welfare, as well as your own, you must yourself act & not rely on him or wait on me." Not only was she raising the children and overseeing the household, she was now responsible for the finances of Arlington, as well as all of the other properties her father owned.

During that year, Mary's health deteriorated and she suffered more bouts of swelling, stiffness and pain. Walking became difficult and climbing the steps near impossible. Much of the time she was confined to her bed. But although her health was failing, she kept up current events, especially politics&mdashit was an election year. Many topics were being debated, especially concerning slavery. She was still opposed to the institution, a view that was in disagreement with her husband which is evident in a letter he penned to her in December of that year: &ldquo&hellipThe blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their instructions as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things&hellip"

Mary made a difficult journey to the springs in Berkley hoping to find some relief from her pain and suffering. When she returned to Arlington, she found her father had taken quite ill. They had a few days together before he died on October 10 with Mary at his bedside. Robert immediately asked for, and was granted, two months leave to oversee his father-in-law's estate. While Robert grappled with finances that included decades of poor financial decisions and poor record keeping, Mary, having stumbled upon her father's memoirs of his days growing up at Mount Vernon, organized the papers and arranged them into a book. Her crippling disease made the task difficult and painful, but she was persistent.

In 1859, she completed the project and it was published shortly thereafter under the title Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, by his Adopted Son George Washington Parke Custis, with a Memoir of this Author by his Daughter. It received favorable reviews. Mary inherited Arlington House and its 1,100 acres, as well as the slaves that were, according to the will, to be freed within five years of Custis&rsquo death. She also inherited a mill and other property owned by Custis located in Alexandra and Fairfax counties. The will also contained a provision that when she died, everything would be passed on to her son Custis. Rooney inherited White House plantation, and Romancoke was willed to Rob. Mary&rsquos daughters received $10,000 a piece that was to be drawn from the plantation proceeds. Unfortunately, the plantation wasn&rsquot profitable. Robert&rsquos two-month leave to bring order to Arlington&rsquos finances turned in to two years. When his leave was up, instead of returning to Texas immediately, he was assigned to Harper&rsquos Ferry where he oversaw the capture and execution of John Brown.

Losing Arlington

When the Confederate States of America was formed, Mary wrote to her daughter Mildred who was away: &ldquoWith a sad and heavy heart, my dear child, I write, for the prospects before are sad indeed. And as I think both parties are in the wrong in this fractricidal war there is nothing comforting even in the hope that God may prosper the right, for I see no right in this matter. We can only pray that in His mercy He will spare us.&rdquo At the same time Lincoln was sending out the call for 75,000 volunteers, he also offered command of the volunteer troops to Robert. Mary remembered how her husband had paced the gardens at Arlington waiting for the answer to come to him&mdashit finally did. He tendered his resignation one day prior to Virginia&rsquos secession, then accepted a commission from Virginia Governor John Letcher as a major general and commander in chief.

Fearful Washingtonians demanded that Arlington be confiscated from the traitorous Lees, alleging that the land would be a perfect location for a Confederate attack against the city. Robert urged Mary to leave Arlington, but she wasn&rsquot ready. However, she did pack up the most treasured of the family heirlooms and send them to storage at various locations. She solely took to this task as her children were not at Arlington: Rooney was with his wife at White House and Annie was visiting to help with their newborn, Rob and Mildred were at school, and daughter Mary and Agnes were at Ravensworth.

Using her crutches, Mary walked the gardens trying to absorb the beauty around her, as though she knew her days at Arlington were numbered. After several warnings from friends and relatives that she should leave Arlington, she decided to heed their words and left for Ravensworth, escorted by Custis who had just received a commission in the Virginia Army. Shortly after settling in, Mary received a letter from Robert, dated May 13, 1861: &ldquoMake your plans for several years of war. If Virginia is invaded&hellipthe main routes through the country will, in all probability, be infested and passage interrupted. The times are indeed calamitous&hellip&rdquo As weeks passed, Robert urged her to seek refuge deeper into the Confederacy.

During the Battle of First Bull Run, she was close enough to hear the artillery fire. Afterwards, she helped nurse the wounded. In her spare time, she wrote to her husband and always included a pair of hand-knitted socks&mdashregardless of how much pain and discomfort the task brought. Mary traveled to White House plantation to stay with Charlotte, Rooney&rsquos wife, who was now pregnant with their second child. There, she heard many accounts of Arlington&rsquos fate&mdashhow buildings had been dismantled for fire wood, crops destroyed, animals stolen, and family heirlooms taken and put on display at the Patent Office. Robert knew of Mary&rsquos distress and wrote to her: &ldquoEven if the enemy had wished to preserve [Arlington], it would almost have been impossible. With the number of troops encamped around it, the change of officers, the want of fuel, shelter, & etc., all the dire necessities of war, it is vain to think of its being in a habitable condition. I fear, too, books, furniture, & the relics of Mt Vernon will be gone. It is better to make up our minds to a general loss. They cannot take away the remembrances of the spot & the memories of those that to us rendered it sacred. That will remain to us as long as life will last&hellip&rdquo

Robert was still not satisfied with the safety of her location and urged Mary to seek refuge deeper into the Confederacy. At first she refused, but after ending up behind enemy lines, she acquiesced and asked for an escort to lead her back into the Confederacy and Union General McClellan approved the move and secured a pass for her. Once back in the Confederacy, she was briefly reunited with her husband who was surprised by her crippled state. In the summer of &rsquo62, Mary&rsquos grandson Rob (Rooney and Charlotte&rsquos child) was taken ill and died in Warrenton, NC where Charlotte had taken him to recuperate at the mineral baths. Mary went to comfort Charlotte, who had yet to deliver her second child, but was called away quickly when she learned that Annie was ill with typhoid fever. She traveled to Warrenton Springs and later wrote of the event:

&ldquo. [Annie&rsquos] hands too cold & clammy. I sent for the doctor, but he did not seem so alarmed as I was. After 12 o'clock, she seemed not to notice who was around her & never called me, which she was apt to do frequently during the night. Her eyes were raised to the ceiling & her breath became more labored. Toward day we found she could not swallow the brandy. The Dr. came & said her pulse was scarcely perceptible & she lay quietly, her life ebbing away, with her hand warm & soft in my bosom, till at 7 o'clock all was still."

Only twenty-three years old, Anne Carter Lee passed away. Mary&rsquos sorrows continued when a few weeks later, Charlotte gave birth to a sickly daughter that died shortly thereafter. Mary made the difficult journey back to Charlotte&rsquos side to comfort her, even though she was now almost completely immobile due to her crippling disease. Still, when not tending to the needs of others, she spent every waking moment knitting socks for the soldiers and even nursed Rooney back to health after he&rsquod been shot in the leg during the Battle of Brandy Station before he was removed from the house by a Federal posse and taken prisoner of war.

When things settled down, Mary made arrangements to be moved to a small house located on East Leigh Street in Richmond. A few days prior to Christmas that year, Robert and Custis made a surprise visit although Robert returned to be with his troops for Christmas. Charlotte, still grieving the loss of two children, died Christmas Eve. As she lay on her deathbed, Custis, now a brigadier general, offered himself to the Federals for 48 hours just long enough for Rooney to come to his wife as she lay dying. The federals refused. Rooney remained a prisoner of war until he was exchanged in a prisoner exchange in 1864.

On January 11, 1864, property taxes on Arlington became delinquent and it ended up on the auction block at Alexandria Courthouse where it sold to the U.S. Government for a mere bid of $26,800. Prior to the delinquency, Mary sent her cousin Phillip Fendall to pay the tax however the tax commissioner refused the payment, citing the owner must pay in person. The government knew of Mary&rsquos ailing health and her inability to make the journey, as well as the fact she was the wife of the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia. The government was quite sure Mary Custis Lee would not be returning to Alexandria to pay the tax.

In 1865, as the Yankees threatened to overtake Richmond, residents were packing up their valuables and fleeing the city&mdasheveryone, save Mary. Instead, she and her daughters bolted their doors and windows and prepared to defend themselves. While hunkered down, they heard the explosions of the Confederate vessels in the river as well as the earth-moving booms of the powder magazine blowing up. Flames spread to the houses of the city and as the fire neared her own home, Union General Godfrey Weitzel approved a neighbor&rsquos request for an ambulance to take Mary to a safe place. Mary refused. Just as the flames threatened to engulf her home, the wind shifted and her house was secured. When the Yankees fully occupied the city, a Union sentry was placed at her door for her safety. Although it was the enemy guarding her, Mary saw to it the sentry was well-fed.

On Sunday, April 9, she was startled to hear the sound of a cannon and later learned it was artillery fired to mark the end of the war. Robert E. Lee had surrendered. On Saturday, April 15, Robert and Rooney found their way home to Mary. With the war over, Mary petitioned the federal government to return her property&mdashthey refused. By this time, her health was so deteriorated she was unable to travel or move about on her own. She needed constant care.

Her son Rob wrote of her condition: &ldquoShe was a great invalid from rheumatism, and had to be lifted wherever she moved. When put in her wheel-chair, she could propel herself on a level floor, or could move about her room very slowly and with great difficulty on her crutches, but she was always bright, sunny-tempered, and uncomplaining, constantly occupied with her books, letter, knitting, and painting&hellip&rdquo

In September, 1865, Robert accepted the position of president of financially-ailing Washington College in Lexington, VA and journeyed to Lexington to set up housekeeping. Custis received a position at VMI, Rob and Rooney continued rebuilding White House, which had been burned to the ground by the Yankees, daughter Mary traveled, and Agnes and Mildred stayed behind to care for their mother. Mary&rsquos first task was to oversee the unearthing of the Washington treasures buried for safekeeping before the war. She was disheartened to find that the Washington letters and papers had been inadvertently exposed to the elements over the years and were rotted. None could be salvaged and she took to the task of burning them herself.

&ldquoI almost wept as I had to commit to the flames papers that had been cherished for nearly a century&hellip&rdquo

The silver was recovered, as well as the Washington carpets and Mary was pleased to display those items in her new home in Lexington where she was an admired hostess. In 1869, President Johnson authorized the return to Mary of all the personal property that had been removed from Arlington however, Congress stepped in and concluded the articles were &ldquothe property of the Father of his country, and as such are the property of the whole people and should not be committed to the custody of any one person, much less a rebel like General Lee.&rdquo

With that news, Mary&rsquos hope of ever having any of her treasures returned died. Her joy was found in sitting on the front porch in the cool evening with Robert when they would bask in the beauty and calm that surrounded them. Through this time together, Mary was able to see the slow decline in Robert&rsquos health. One evening, as Robert had returned from a church meeting, he placed his hat and coat in his room and entered the dining room. Mary became alarmed at his appearance and called to Custis to assist his father. He was immediately put to bed and slept almost continuously for two days and nights. At first, the doctor felt that Robert simply needed a rest, but after he failed to improve Mary stayed at his bedside, knowing the end was near. She wrote of his passing: &ldquoWe all sat up all night every moment almost expecting to be his last. He lay breathing most heavily & the Dr. said entirely unconscious of pain. I sat with his hand in mine all moist with heavy perspiration & early in the morning and went into my room to change my clothes & get a cup of tea. When I went back he lay in much the same condition, only there were some more severe struggles for breath&mdashthese became more frequent and intense & after 2 very severe ones, his breath seemed to pass away gently, & he so loved & admired now lies cold & insensible&hellip&rdquo

Mary&rsquos incapacitating disease made it impossible for her to attend the October 15 funeral service for Robert. Instead, she remained at home and reread letters that Robert had sent to her during their courtship and early on in their marriage. The days passed and Mary received hundreds of condolences from across the country. With her health still deteriorating, her heart ached even more for one last look at Arlington. In June 1873, with the help of many individuals, she made the return trip to Arlington.

&ldquoI rode out to my dear old home, so changed it seemed but as a dream of the past. I could not have realized that it was Arlington but for the few old oaks they had spared, & the trees planted on the lawn by the Gen&rsquol & myself which are raising their tall branches to the Heaven which seems to smile on the desecration around them.&rdquo

Mary was unable to exit the carriage, but was delighted when old servants still at Arlington came to see her. When it was time to leave, she didn&rsquot look back. Mary returned to Lexington in time to sit at Agnes&rsquo deathbed and Mary, tired in body and spirit, drew her last breath in her sleep on Wednesday, November 5, 1873. With her passing, Custis took to fighting for the return of Arlington and in 1882 the Supreme Court ruled that Arlington had indeed been illegally taken and ordered it returned to the family. Custis, the legal heir, had no desire to live among dead and sold it to the government for $150,000, half its estimated value. In 1901, President McKinley ordered all the Washington artifacts taken during the course of the war be returned to the family. Mary Custis Lee could now rest in peace.

Who's In The News.

With the 2020 election approaching see the Trump family tree.

About to send four astronauts to the ISS. See the Elon Musk family tree here at FameChain

Vice-president of the United States.

Meghan and Harry are now US based. FameChain has their amazing trees.

The Democratic party contender for President. See the Joe Biden family tree

Democratic candidate for the Vice-Presidency of the United States.

Set to be the next Supreme Court Judge. Discover the Coney Barret family tree

Follow us on


All relationship and family history information shown on FameChain has been compiled from data in the public domain. From online or printed sources and from publicly accessible databases. It is believed to be correct at the time of inputting and is presented here in good faith. Should you have information that conflicts with anything shown please make us aware by email.

But do note that it is not possible to be certain of a person's genealogy without a family's cooperation (and/or DNA testing).

Watch the video: Eclipse - Mary Leigh Official Audio #Eclipse #Paradigm #RockAintDead