|The Ripened Wheat by Jules Bastien-Lepage,|
By the time Mary Ann was recorded on her first census in 1851, the Ball family was complete. Mary Ann was the youngest child and, together with her two elder sisters, Fanny and Ellen, the family lived together in Girtford village. Their peaceful existence was not to last however as, in 1853, when Mary Ann was just two, Edward died at the young age of 28. His widow, Matilda, made a living from lace-making, a traditional livelihood in Bedfordshire, and supported her three young daughters single handed for the next ten years until she married for a second time in 1863. I believe that Mary Ann learned a lot from her mother about how to cope in times of adversity. She would have witnessed her mother's strength and I suspect this had a profound effect on Mary Ann's character and her own ability to strive through traumatic events.
|Inside a Bakery by Gustaf Olaf Cederstrom, courtesy Wikigallery.org|
In 1885, Mary Ann married again. John Randall was a local man who worked as a general labourer. He had been born and bred in Tempsford, and the couple settled down to married life in the village that had been her home for the last 18 years. Mary Ann's propensity to give birth to girls continued with the birth of Alice, Florence and Winifred Mary.
|Samuel Hardwick, died 1917|
Mary Ann and John lived together in Tempsford until his death in 1928. She outlived him by three years and died at the ripe old age of 82.
Mary Ann, for me, is one of those ancestors that I just took to straight away. I admire how she stepped into her husband's flour-covered apron and made a living for herself and her family. Her's wasn't an easy life, it was marred by too much tragedy, but she survived, picked up the pieces and carried on. And because of that, she'll always be one of my heroes.