Perdita woman: Mary Carey


Lady Mary Carey was born c.1609, heir to Sir John Jackson of Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland. Her first husband was Pelham Carey , a younger son of Sir Henry Carey, fourth Lord Hunsdon and first earl of Dover, and Judith Pelham. They married at Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, on 24 June 1630. Pelham had died by 8 June 1643, when Mary married her second husband, George Payler (d. c.1678) at Berwick. She kept the title and name from her first marriage. Payler was a parliamentarian, serving as paymaster of the Berwick garrison from 1639-1642, and later as an officer of the ordnance and armoury in the Tower of London. He was admitted to Gray's Inn in 1652, appointed a naval commissioner in 1654, and MP for Berwick in 1659. Mary accompanied her second husband in garrisons across the country. She was well travelled, writing in her autobiographical conversion narrative that, by the time she was 45, she had " liv'd in Berwick, London, Kent, Hunsdon, Edinburgh, Thistleworth, Hackney, Tottridge, Greenwich, Bethnal Green, Clapham, York, [Nun] Monkton, St James's, Newington, Covent Garden, & dear St Katherine's" . It appears that the couple retired to the Payler estates at Nun Monkton, Yorkshire, after the Restoration.

They had seven children, only two-Bethia (1652/3-1671) and Nathaniel (1654/5-c.1680)-surviving infancy. Both parents composed elegies on their fourth child, Robert (d.1650). Mary in addition wrote memorial verses for Peregrine (d. 1652), their fifth child, and an eighth, miscarried child in 1657. Her 'Dialogue betwixt the Soul, and the Body' is a conversion narrative, giving an account of her reprobate adolescence, her illness aged 18, and subsequent salvation. It details 21 assurances of grace and election. This faith was a source of great consolation for the deaths of her children. In addition, she had a supportive family: she writes "I had tenderly loving Parents, good Husbands, the last is so, & good was it for me, that I was Wife to the first; God hath given me lovely Children, Sons, & Daughters, 5 in God's Bosom, 2 yet with me; 'tis best for me, & them, that those that died, died; 'tis best for me, & them, that those that live, live" . Both Bethia and Nathaniel, however, predeceased her. Bethia married James Darcy of Sedbury, Yorkshire, and died aged 18. Nathaniel attended Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1670 and Gray's Inn in 1671, and had a son, Nathaniel (d. 1748). The Maria Anna Payler, of Nun Monkton, Yorkshire, who married George Cressner (d. 1722) of London, is likely his daughter. His mother was granted probate of his will on 3 December 1680. When her husband died, Mary became administrator of his estates. Her own date of death is unknown.

Bodleian Library: MS Rawlinson D. 1308
Lady Carey's Meditations, & Poetry, ... As also the late Thomas Lord Fairfax's Relation of his Actions in the late Civil Wars. Together With his Grace the Duke of Buckingham's Verses upon the Memory of the late Thomas Lord Fairfax (1681)
Mary Carey (Author)