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‎Mary Hughes (1842-1931)

About Mary Hughes - Mary of Llangollen

Mary Llangollen 200 x 150

Mary Hughes the inspiration for the world famous nursery rhyme is buried in Broadwater Cemetery, Worthing. She was born in Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales, on the 18th May 1842 during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Mary's father, John Thomas, was a sheep farmer in the Vale of Llangollen. Mary attended the British School in Brook Street, Llangollen, and one day one of the lambs she had reared by hand as pets followed her to school where it caused such a commotion that the teacher Miss Coward made her remove it and tie it outside to the nearby toll gate.

One of three sisters, named Burls, who were visiting the area at the time from London was so amused by the incident that on her return home she penned the poem 'Mary had a little lamb' that later became the well known nursery rhyme.

Mary in her later life moved to the South of England where she died in Worthing on 9th December 1931 at the age of 91.

Mary Hughes is buried at Broadwater Cemetery in plot number B13-1-4. To commemorate her life a lamb was cut in relief on the simple headstone of her grave. 

Mary had a little lamb
its fleece was white as snow
and everywhere that Mary went
the lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day
that was against the rule
it made the children laugh and play
to see the lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned him out,
but still he lingered near,
and waited patiently about
til Mary did appear.

And then he ran to her and laid
his head upon her arm,
as if he said "I'm not afraid,
you'll keep me from all harm".

"What makes the lamb love Mary so?"
the eager children cry.
"Oh, Mary loves the lamb you know"
the teacher did reply.

"And you each gentle animal
in confidence may bind,
and make it follow at your call,
if you are always kind".

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Extract from Worthing Gazette 1931: Recording the passing of Mary Hughes

Mary Hughes' death was recorded in The Worthing Gazette on Saturday 12 December 1931.

And Mary is dead. Do not try to explain it to little children for they will not believe you. They will tell you that she has gone away to play among the lambs she loved so well. So Mary is dead, and yet she will never die, her memory will go on for ever, immortal. When she was about six years old her little lamb followed her to school and frolicked until the mistress turned him out. That was why a Miss Buel who was staying at the farm at the time wrote the little verse. Probably even now a little child is murmuring through it or lisping it to daddy for his approval. While children live and play it will not die.

But Mary - Mrs. Mary Hughes of Ty-lssaf Farm, in the Vale of Llangollen - the heroine of the Nursery Rhyme is dead, She died on Wednesday in her ninety-first year in the house of her daughter. Nurse Hughes, at 11 Ethelred Road, West Tarring. When I went to see Nurse Hughes, I was shown into the cosy little sitting room with the fret work motto 'Home sweet Home' hanging over the mantelpiece, and Mrs. Hughes' lovely cat Fluffy came in and lay by the fire. As I sat there, I was told how so long ago Mrs. Hughes used to mother her pet lambs feeding them from a teapot. She also expressed a wish, said Nurse Hughes, that she should be buried in Broadwater Cemetery and I am going to carry out that wish.

She was buried on the Monday: Lamb is cut in relief on the simple headstone of her grave.

Mary had a little lamb
its fleece was white as snow
and everywhere that Mary went
the lamb was sure to go.

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