Lee, Mary Stonier (nee Leigh) (1845-1871)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J Lee

MARY STONIER LEE, the beloved wife of the Rev. J. Lee, was born at Sleaford, May 13, 1845, and died at Torquay, April 26,1871. Being blessed with pious parents, and especially being favoured with a devoted Christian mother, on such the work of Christian nurture principally devolves, what wonder that in early life she became the subject of serious, religious impressions. Her sainted mother frequently took her with her into the closet, thus breaking the spell of worldly fascinations and familiarizing the mind with heavenly communion. When thirteen years of age she was converted to God during a revival of religion in our school at Donnington, Lincolnshire, and retained her Christian steadfastness to the end. Her natural energy of mind and deep sense of obligation to Christ prompted her early to attempt something for God. Hence she became a stirring and successful missionary collector. 

On July 5th, 1867, she became the wife of the writer. She entered this relationship of life with much prayer, and a deep consciousness of the responsibility it entailed, but with no apprehension of the sufferings through which she would be shortly called to pass. Perfect knowledge of this would have been too much for her. She was gradually prepared for the increasing afflictions of body. Her illness was very protracted and severe. For four years she was called to endure the painful and yet mellowing and disciplinary trial of a sinking physical nature.

At the commencement of her affliction she often expressed herself as feeling such nearness to God and to heaven that her heavenly Father must surely be preparing her for an early removal. Earth seemed to be receding as she was powerfully attracted heavenward. After suffering for three years and four months of a bronchial affection, inducing a constant waste that was preying upon her vitals, her medical adviser recommended a southern residence as a very probable means of affording relief; accordingly an application was made to the General Missionary Committee for a removal to the south, which was kindly and promptly responded to by an appointment to the Torquay station. On arriving here, however, an eminent physician pronounced the case to be a dangerous one, declaring bronchitis to be simply a mask for consumption. The removal, however, proved beneficial in relieving some symptoms of the disease, although it was too late to effect a complete restoration. Notwithstanding she was a great sufferer, yet abounding sufferings were accompanied with abounding consolations.

Night and day found her praising God and looking for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Next to the Bible, with its precious promises, no book afforded her so much comfort as a popular little book called “The Gates Ajar.” Day after day and week after week she repeated a favourite passage contained therein, “I am looking for the morning when the gates will open,” so earnestly did she long for death. This desire for heaven was intensified by the death of her mother, which occurred about six weeks before her own. At length the long-expected and patiently waited-for day arrived. She prayed much for Divine help, and found grace to die with as she had to live with. About an hour before her death she prayed thus, “God bless my dear children, be thou their Father and God,” and then turning to her surviving husband, said, “God bless you, my dear husband, don’t weep for me, I am going home.” Her pains shortly became more excruciating, inducing her to cry out with her once suffering Lord, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” After experiencing a slight temporary relief she faintly said:—

“O what are all our sufferings here,
If thou should’st count us meet,
With that enraptured host to appear,
And worship at Thy feet!”

She then succeeded with assistance in walking from the chair to the couch, when the crisis arrived, and her struggles from pain were so sorely trying that she cried out loudly, “O God, help me, O God, help me,” ending in the subdued and submissive prayer, “Father, release me, if it be Thy will,” and she immediately expired on her husband’s knee. Thus ended the earthly career of one who as a woman was gentle and virtuous; as a domestic scrupulously clean and efficient; as a wife devoted and affectionate; as a mother tender and discriminating, and as a Christian real, firm, and enduring. May her bereaved husband and two children meet her in heaven is the fervent prayer and ardent desire of the writer.


Mary was born on 13 May 1845 at Sleaford, to parents Cornelius Leigh, a PM minister and Ellen Rowley.

She married James Lee (1841-1892), a PM minister, on 5 July 1866. in the Ecclesall Bierlow Registration District, Yorkshire. Census returns identify two children.

  • Annie Augusta (1867-1953)  – a retired companion (1939)               
  • Corney Thomas (1870-1887)

Mary died on 26 April 1871 at Torquay, Devon.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1872/568

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Note: Online records identify her marriage in 1866 not 1867 at stated in the obituary.

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