Mary Leslie

Born: Ellen Mary Leslie, nee Martin, was born in 1880 in Sunderland. Her parents were Rev. Henry Martin from Derbyshire and his wife Mary from Hull. She had three sisters and five brothers.

Educated: She studied at Queen Victoria’s High School For Girls in Stockton and later at Durham University

Married: In 1913 Mary Martin married Norman Leslie in Canton, China.

Family:  Mary and Norman had two sons, John and Norman.

Home: When her father became vicar of Stockton in 1885 Mary lived in the vicarage with the family. While still a young adult she moved to Oxford where she was appointed Inspector of Midwives. From the time of her marriage she lived in China for 25 years.

Known for: In 1901 Mary Martin, as she was known then, became Stockton’s first lady sanitary inspector, one of the first in the country. She was a pioneer in the drive to improve the lives of working people, particularly housewives, in the early 20th century. During her career in Stockton she visited more than 2,000 homes and found that 30 per cent of them were not clean enough. She worked energetically to combat the problems of poverty and poor hygiene in the town. From 1910 she specialised in midwifery. At the age of 92 she wrote about her experiences in her book “Through Changing Scenes”.

Died: Mary Leslie died in 1974.

Further Information: “Through Changing Scenes” by Mary Leslie (1972)