Fricker, Mary (1771–1862)

Southey’s sister-in-law. The second surviving child of Stephen Fricker and Martha Rowles. In the early 1790s she worked as an actress in Bath and Bristol theatres. She married Robert Lovell in January 1794, in spite of the disapproval of his family. Their son, also called Robert, was born in 1795. After Lovell’s death in 1796, Southey tried to persuade his family to provide for his widow and child. He was only partially successful. The Lovells gave Robert Lovell Junior the occasional gift (for example, £20 in 1802) and made some contribution to the boy’s early education, but they did not provide consistent, long-term support. As a result, Mary and her son were dependent upon Southey. They lived with or near to the Southeys for the rest of the 1790s and early 1800s and in 1803 accompanied them to their new home, Greta Hall. Mary remained with the Southeys after her son’s apprenticeship to a London printer. She finally moved out when the house was given up after Southey’s death in 1843. She spent her final years living with Kate, Southey’s unmarried daughter, and died on 10 August 1862. She was buried in the Southey grave in Crosthwaite churchyard, on the outskirts of Keswick.

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