Mary Ward, also known as Mary King, was a scientist from Ireland. She’s mostly known for being the first person ever, to be killed in an automobile accident. Mary was born into a highly educated family and as a result this influenced her desire to learn and study things. Mary lived in a time when science was dominated by men and women weren’t too welcome in scientific circles.Despite this, Mary remained strong and was able to overcome such barriers to become a successful scientist.
Facts about Mary Ward:
- Mary was born on 27th April 1827 outside Fabane,Ireland.
- Her birth name was Mary King but after getting married, she took her husband’s surname and renamed herself Mary Ward.
- Mary didn’t receive any formal education and taught herself at home.
- She had a hobby of drawing and studying insects. Mary also loved to observe insect specimens under a magnifying glass. One day, this caught the attention of astronomer James South who was so impressed by this that he persuaded Mary’s father to buy her a microscope.
- Mary became passionate about Microscopy and taught herself everything about the subject.
- She also made her own microscope slides out of ivory, as glass was not so common at that time.
- Mary also prepared her own insect specimens that she would observe under the microscope.
- She even prepared microscope specimens for physicist David Brewster on his request.
- Mary wrote to scientists asking them for papers they had published. She was also able to meet many scientists because of her cousin William Parsons, after he was made President of the Royal Society in 1848. Parsons was an astronomer and had built a telescope, which at the time was the biggest one in the world.
- Mary also worked with Parsons on his telescope. She provided him with sketches for each stage of the telescope construction.
- Mary was 1 of only 3 women to be on the mailing list of the Royal Astronomical Society.
- The other two women were Queen Victoria and Mary Somerville, a scientist.
- She married on 6th December 1854 and had 8 children.
- Mary is also the great grandmother of Doctor Who actress, Lalla Ward.
- Mary also wrote and illustrated a few books.
- Her first book was “Sketches with Microscope” which, she at first thought no one would publish because of her being a woman. But it got published in 1858.
Unfortunately, Mary was the victim of a car accident on 31 August 1869 and became the first person ever to be killed by an automobile. She was travelling in a steam powered car, built by her cousin Parsons’s sons. Mary fell under the wheels when the car went on a bend and jolted. She was severely injured and was bleeding from the face and lips and her neck was also broken.A minute later she died.
Let’s not remember her for this. Instead we should remember her for the great scientist and woman she was. And let her be an inspiration for us.