'Vepery Church' Madras, where Rev. John Thomas and Mary Davies got married on October 4th, 1838, six days after her arrival from England, after spending a couple of uncomfortable months alone onboard a sailboat ‘The Plantaganet’ from England to Madras. (Photo from page 228 of the book 'Narrative of a journey through the Upper Provinces of India from Calcutta to Bombay 1824- 1825, London, 1828' by Heber Reginald)
Mary (nee Davies) Thomas in widow's weeds (from William Kemm, John Thomas Missionary to South India (ISPCK, Delhi, 2010)
Mary, Rev. Thomas’ wife, the pioneer of Elliot-Tuxford Girls' School in south India
Mary Thomas (nee Davies) was born in Wales in 1815. She was married to John Thomas in 1838, and shared in his manifold labours, both physical and spiritual, during the whole thirty years of his life at Mengnanapuram. After his death in 1870 she continued to reside at Mengnanapuram, where, with her daughter, she carried on the work of managing the Elliot Tuxford Girls' Boarding-School.
Mrs. Mary Thomas started the School in 1841 with only four pupils. She managed the school for thirty years with great success. The school imparted education to the poor girls of Megnanapuram and its neighbourhood with free education, food and clothing. When Mrs. Mary Thomas went to England in 1860, she appealed to her friends in England for further financial assistance. In response, she got plenty of supports from The Ladies Association.[i]
Mrs. Mary Thomas entered into rest in her eighty-eight years, after sixty-one years of missionary life amongst a people who learned to love and honor her. The Rev. E.A. Douglas says of Mrs. Thomas:
“The last articulate word she spoke shows the current of her whole life. It was ‘love’. She loved much. She was wonderfully active too, and could not bear to be idle for a moment…Whatever touched the life of the people interested her much, and she was known throughout the district as ‘our mother’” [ii]
For many years the pastoral and evangelistic work of the district has been entirely carried on by Tamil clergymen and lay teachers, Mrs. and Miss Frances Thomas and Miss E.C. Vines being the only white people in the neighborhood.
[i] William Kemm, John Thomas Missionary to South India (ISPCK, Delhi, 2010)