Mary was born on 27 Feb 1777 but there was no Christening until her sister Emma was bon the next year. Both girls were Christened at the cathedral on 15 Oct 1778. Mary was married to Sir Thomas Williams (1761-1841) on 12 Dec 1800 at the cathedral.

Captain Williams, later Admiral Sir Thomas Williams, was knighted in 1796 when he had been in command of HMS Unicorn and fought a sea battle against La Tribune. The ships fought for 10 hours and covered 120 miles of sea. Also on board was Charles Austen who went on to be a Rear Admiral. Charles was the brother of Jane Austen whose other brother Francis became Admiral of the Fleet in 1863.

Sir Thomas then went on to command HMS Endymion and then commanded the Sea Fencibles of the Gosport division 1806 - 1807. The ‘Tidal correspondents of the 19th century’ said that ‘Admiral Williams wrote a tidal letter and received one’ -whatever that means!

On 11 Dec 1792 Thomas had married Jane, the daughter of Rev Dr Edward Cooper at Steventon but she had died in a road traffic accident in Aug 1798. He was 39 when he married the 23 year old Mary. They lived at Brooklands near Southampton and later at Burwood House in Walton on Thames, there were no children. Mary died in 1824 when she was 47, Thomas was then 63 and lived another 18 years.

Steventon, Hampshire had been the family home of the Austens so Jane and her brothers had probably known Thomas for some time. In any case there was a lot of gossip in Jane’s letters to her sister Cassandra, who was born in 1773 and was two years older. Cassandra had been engaged to the Rev Tom Fowle but in 1797 he died in the West Indies. Deirdre Le Faye has published a book of Jane Austens Letters and I sometimes wonder whether Jane had hoped to encourage a marriage between Sir Thomas and Cassandra.

Some relevant extracts from these letters can be found in the following link
Click here,  Jane’s Letters

 

MARY