In chapter 43 of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, the lady at the hospital mentions "Mary" several times. It seems like Mary is Jerry's wife:

“Well, Barker,” she said, “it would be a great pity that you should seriously risk your health in this work, not only for your own but for Mary's and the children's sake; there are many places where good drivers or good grooms are wanted, and if ever you think you ought to give up this cab work let me know.” Then sending some kind messages to Mary she put something into his hand, saying, “There is five shillings each for the two children; Mary will know how to spend it.”

But Jerry's wife is Polly:

Jeremiah Barker was my new master's name, but as every one called him Jerry, I shall do the same. Polly, his wife, was just as good a match as a man could have.

So who is Mary? She seems to be mentioned five times in that chapter, but nowhere else.


Mary is her real name and “Polly” is her pet name:

Polly < Poll

Poll originally a rhyming form of Moll

Moll pet form of the female forename Mary

Oxford English Dictionary

The lady at the hospital either did not know Mary’s pet name, or, more likely, was not on familiar enough terms with the Barkers to use it. You can see from her addressing Jerry as “Barker” that she was not on first-name terms with him.

Here are a couple of examples where the correspondence of real and pet name is clearer:

‘Very likely,’ said the Duke, ‘but Mary can’t marry a policeman.’

‘Now, look here,’ said Wimsey, tucking his sister’s arm in his, ‘you leave Polly alone.’

Dorothy L. Sayers (1930). Strong Poison, chapter 23. London: Gollancz.

“Let me ask her. Just run in and tell her I want her.”

Georgiana did so, and soon returned with Mary.

Polly,” said Tom, “I’ve proved that you are to be trusted.”

Henry Cockton (1851). The Love Match, p. 60. London: W. M. Clark.


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