Wolverhampton BTW

Mary Douglas

Douglas, Mary née Sharpe, previously Beauvoir, 1753—1807

by Benjamin Colbert

Mary Sharpe Beauvoir Douglas, born 26 May 1753 in Bloomsbury Square, London, was the daughter and heiress of Fane-William Sharpe (c.1729-71), MP for Callington, Cornwall, and Mary Sharpe, née Newport, of Southampton Buildings in the parish of St Andrew, Holborn, London. In the early 1780s, the young Mary Sharpe was travelling companion to the poet and translator, Elizabeth Carter (1707-1806; ODNB), and moved in Carter’s bluestocking literary circles. Another friend, the poet Hester Chapone (1727-1802; ODNB), commented on Mary Sharpe’s first marriage in 1782 to the much older Reverend Osmond Beauvoir (d. 1789), ‘She seems contented and pleased with what she has done, and he appears to be a very sensible, good-humour’d man, and will be, I doubt not, an indulgent father to her’ (Autobiography).

In 1791, two years after Beauvoir’s death, she married Carter’s physician and brother-in-law, Dr Andrew Douglas (1735/6-1806; ODNB). In the following year, the couple travelled to Italy and Switzerland in search of environs that would improve Mary Douglas’s health. Their return trip through revolutionary France in 1796 is described in Notes of a Journey, a privately printed publication that brings together each of their travel journals in two parts so that, as Mary Douglas puts it, ‘our observations should not be disunited’ (pt 2, p. 1) (there is no evidence that either were imprisoned in France during their travels as claimed by the brief ODNB article on Andrew Douglas).

From 1800, the Douglases settled at Ednam House, where Mary Douglas was occupied in part by her work translating and compiling The Life of Professor Gellert (3 vols, 1805), dedicated to William Osmund Hammond (1790-1863), grandson to her first husband by his first wife, but whom Mary Douglas refers to as ‘her sincere friend, and in heart, though not by blood, […] affectionate grandmother’. Andrew Douglas died on 11 June 1806 after a short illness. Mary Douglas died not long after, on 20 February 1807, at her home in Portland-Place, London.


Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany. Vol. 6. Ed. Augusta Hall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Burke, John, and John Bernard Burke. A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain. Vol. 2. London: Henry Colburn, 1846. Print.

'Died'. The Morning Chronicle, no. 11,786 (Tues., Feb. 24, 1807). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900. Web. 26 Aug. 2017.

‘Heir at Law [for Mary Douglas estate]’. The Morning Chronicle, no. 15,786 (Friday, Dec. 3, 1819). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900. Web. 26 Aug. 2017.

Moore, Norman, and Michael Bevan. 'Douglas, Andrew (1735/6–1806), physician and man-midwife'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sept. 2004. Oxford University Press. Web. 26 Aug. 2017.

‘Sharpe, Fane William (?1721-71), of South Lodge, Enfield Chase, Herts.’ The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History. Web. 26 Aug. 2017.


Title Published
Notes of a Journey from Berne to England, through France 1797

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