Perdita woman: younger Mary Evelyn


Mary Evelyn (b. 1665) was the eldest surviving daughter of John Evelyn, the diarist, and Mary Brown Evelyn, an accomplished letter-writer. The Evelyns had nine children, of whom only John (b. 1655), Elizabeth (b. 1667) and Susan (b. 1669) besides Mary survived infancy.

Mary Evelyn seems to have spent most of her childhood at the family home, Sayes Court, in Deptford, Kent. She was both clever and pious, and surviving family papers testify to her extensive reading - both sacred and secular - as well as to the miscellaneous collections, annotations and meditations she herself produced. Unfortunately, many of the notebooks and assorted papers which are recorded as extant at her death have since been lost.

In later years, Evelyn seems to have divided her time between Deptford and London, where she stayed with friends of the family. She received a proposal of marriage from John Hussey of Sutton, but rejected it. In early 1684/5 she contracted smallpox, and died a few days later, on 14 March. The satirical poem, Mundus Muliebris, which has been attributed to Evelyn, was published in 1690, with a preface probably by John Evelyn.

Biography by Gillian Wright.

British Library: Add. MS 78441
Spiritual meditations (Written between 31 August 1683 and 14 March 1685)
(Author, Scribe)Mary Evelyn

British Library: Add. MS 78440
Sermon Notes (1679-1683)
(Compiler, Scribe) Mary Evelyn (1665-1685)

British Library: Add. MS 78439
Letterbooks of outgoing correspondence (c.1660-1730)
(Author) Mary Evelyn (1635-1709)