Mary was born in 1880 in Llanfyllin to Catherine Evans, a widow. She was the youngest of four, her older siblings being David Williams, Elizabeth and Edward. The family lived on Rhiwlas Row.
Mary was recorded as being a boarder by the 1891 and 1901 censuses, but by 1901 she was working as a photographer’s assistant, living at 14 Arundel Road. She lived with Sarah Evans, a dressmaker; Alfred Edwards, a joiner and John H Edwards, an iron forger.