Perdita woman: Mary ?Roper


The author of Brotherton Library Lt q 2, a verse paraphrase of Genesis interspersed with other poems, specifically remains anonymous, but the manuscript provides a number of clues towards an identity. The dedicatory poem associates the author with biblical women who are recorded as praising God, and strongly suggests that her name is Mary. References to Mary's offering of the turtle doves and the widow's mite also suggest a female author, possibly a widow herself, who has fallen on hard times. She talks of her two enemies, "Meanenesse and Povertie", in a dedicatory epistle to the Queen, Catherine de Braganza. It seems that her lack of money and status had barred her from attending court in some capacity, something which she states she had desired to do.

Another important clue is the author's religious and political affiliations. From "A Prayer" it is clear that she follows a liturgy and marks holy days, and she seems keenly aware of the fines and seizure of estates both of the church and of those loyal to the King. She is obviously an ardent royalist. Internal evidence points to the death of Mary's father during the time she was writing this manuscript in 1670. It seem likely that he was a religious man, who lost lands or wealth because of his Royalist affiliations. Mary was probably married and living away from her father's house, as the news of his death was brought to her.

Brotherton Lt q 2 was owned in 1692 by Elizabeth Rooper. It may be that Mary was a sister or older relative of hers. The Roopers and Ropers both had recusant tendencies. There was a family of Roopers in Derbyshire, but there are no records of any Mary in the family at that time. It seems more likely that the family was that of the Ropers of Kent (the provenance suggests that the manuscript was passed down through this family).

Biography by Jill Seal Millman.

Brotherton Library: MS Lt q 2
The sacred history (1669-1670)
(Author) Mary ?Roper