Scott, Mary (1751-93)

Mary Scott (‘Mira’ or ‘Myra’) was the daughter of John Scott (1721-74), a linen merchant in Milborne Port, Somerset. Though raised a Calvinist in the local Independent chapel, she would later become a Unitarian, like her brother, the Revd Russell Scott of Portsmouth. After the death of her father in 1774, she continued to care for her mother, despite her engagement in 1777 to John Taylor (1752-1817), tutor at the nonconformist academy at Daventry. Eight months after her mother’s death in October 1787, Mary Scott and John Taylor were married. They had two children, Mary Ann (1789-1875) and John Edward (1791-1844), the latter becoming the founder of the Manchester Guardian in 1821. After Taylor’s marriage to Mary Scott, he served as minister to the Presbyterian congregation at Ilminster before converting to Quakerism in 1790. He eventually became a schoolmaster in Bristol, where she died in June 1793 due to complications from a pregnancy.  Scott is best known today for her two long poems, The Female Advocate (1774), a poem celebrating the achievements of fifty women writers from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century, and The Messiah (1788), a poem chronicling the life and death of Christ from an Arian perspective.  Scott also composed friendship poems to Mary Steele and a remarkable collection of hymns transcribed by Anne Steele. Scott's unpublished poems, along with a new edition of her two published poems and several other published poems not previously known, have been published in  volume 4 of Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, gen. ed. Timothy Whelan (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011).


For an extensive Biographical Sketch of Mary Scott, click on the links below:

Early Life in Somerset 

Drafting and Publishing The Female Advocate

Mary Scott’s Religious Poetry, 1770–88

Courtship, Engagement, and Marriage, 1776–93


For a Disentangling of the History of Commentary on Scott pre-2010, click here.

For a complete Bibliography of the Writings of Mary Scott, click here.

For a Bibliography of the Reviews of The Female Advocate and Messiah, click here.

For a Bibliography of Scholarly Criticism on Mary Scott, click here.

For Selections from her Poetry, click here.

For a Selection of her Letters, click here.

Page created by Dr. Timothy Whelan, Georgia Southern University