Oxford people stones: Mary Sadler, Shotover

Mary Sadler Field

This stone stands at the exit from Mary Sadler's Field on to Shotover Plain. It reads:


Not a listed structure



Mary, Lady Sadler was the first wife of Sir Michael Sadler, Master of University College, who had been an active figure in the early years of the Oxford Preservation Trust.


Lady Sadler predeceased her husband and left a legacy to the Oxford Preservation Trust enabling them to buy the field on Shotover which now bears her name.

Lady Sadler was born Mary Ann Harvey in Barnsley, Yorkshire in 1852. At the time of the 1871 census Mary (18) was living at Park House, Ardsley, near Barnsley with her father Charles (53), who was a linen manufacturer, her mother Emma (48), and her younger siblings Kate (12) and Charles (11), plus their two servants. In 1881 at the age of 28 she was still living at Park House with her father, who was now a widower, and they had three servants.

On 14 July 1885 in London, Mary married Michael Ernest Sadler, who was nine years her junior and also born in Barnsley. He was then working as secretary of the extension lectures sub-committee of the Oxford Local Examinations Delegacy (see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). They settled in Oxford, and Michael, who was determined not to live off his wife's income, took on additional work as Steward of Christ Church. They had just one child, Michael Thomas Harvey Sadler, born at 31 St Margaret's Road, Oxford on 28 December 1888 and baptised at Ss Philip & James's Church on 10 March 1889. Her husband's occupation was given in the register as Steward of Christ Church.

At the time of the 1891 census Mary (37) was at 1 Bensington House, West Park, Harrogate with her husband Michael (29), who was still secretary to the Oxford University extension lectures sub-committee, their son Michael (2), and one servant.

In 1911 Mary (58) was at Eastwood, Bridgwater Road, Weybridge with her husband Michael (49), who was now Professor of the History and Administration of Education at the University of Manchester, and their son Michael (22), who was a student. Later that year her husband was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University, a post he held for twelve years. From October 1917 he was in India participating in the Calcutta University Commission, and was knighted for his work there in 1919.

Lady Sadler, as she now was, moved back to Oxford in 1923 with her husband Sir Michael Sadler when he was appointed Master of University College.

Mary, Lady Sadler, died at the Master's Lodgings of University College on 16 March 1931 at the age of 78. Her will was proved on 16 April 1931, and her effects came to almost £88,000. Her ashes are buried in Oxford’s Rose Hill Cemetery (Plot B1/148).

On his retirement in 1934 her husband Sir Michael Sadler bought The Rookery (now Ruskin College) in Headington. He married his second wife, the headmistress and educationist Eva Margaret Gilpin, on 18 December 1934. She also predeceased him.

Sir Michael Sadler died at the Rookery in 1943, and his ashes are also buried at Rose Hill (Plot B1/133), along with those of his son

Mary Sadler's only child

Michael Thomas Harvey Sadler (born 1888) married Edith Tupper-Carey in York in 1914, and their daughter Ann Sadler was born in Kensington in 1915, and their son Michael T. Sadler in 1916.

He adopted an early variant of the family name, Sadleir, to distinguish himself from his father, and he wrote his father's biography in 1949.

He died in London on 13 December 1957. He has his own entry as a bibliographer and novelist in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Stephanie Jenkins