Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Saffery, Maria Grace

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SAFFERY, Mrs. MARIA GRACE (1772–1858), hymn-writer and poet, was daughter of William Andrews of Stroud Green, Newbury, Berkshire, where she was born early in 1772. Her mother was a cultured woman of literary tastes, and while still a child Maria gave evidence of poetic talent. At the age of fifteen she wrote a poem entitled ‘Cheyt Sing’ (the name of an unfortunate Hindoo rajah), which, when published later, in 1790, was by permission inscribed to the statesman, Charles James Fox. Maria Andrews was in early life brought under the personal influence of Thomas Scott, the commentator (1747–1821) [q. v.] While still young she removed to Salisbury, and there attended the ministry of John Saffery, pastor of the Brown Street baptist church in that city. She became Saffery's second wife in 1799, and bore him six children, the eldest of whom, Philip John Saffery, succeeded to the pastorate of the church at his father's death in 1825. Subsequently she conducted with great success a girls' school in Salisbury. In 1834 she published an effective volume of ‘Poems on Sacred Subjects.’ The following year she retired to Bratton in Wiltshire, where the rest of her life was spent with her daughter, Mrs. Whitaker. She died on 5 March 1858, and was buried in the graveyard of the baptist chapel there.

Besides the works already mentioned, Mrs. Saffery wrote many hymns for special occasions, which were published in the ‘Baptist Magazine’ and other periodicals. Other hymns by her have found a place in various collections. Among them are: 1. ‘Fain, O my child, I'd have thee know.’ 2. ‘Saviour, we seek the watery tomb.’ 3. ‘The Jordan prophet cries to-day.’ 4. ‘'Tis the Great Father we adore.’

[Private sources; Julian's Dict. Hymnology.]

W. B. L.