Mary Leebody

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Mary Leebody
Died19 September 1911 (aged 64)
Scientific career
InfluencesRobert Lloyd Praeger, Matilda Cullen Knowles

Mary Leebody (1847–1911) was a Northern Irish botanist, known for her work on the flora of County Londonderry and County Donegal.


Mary Leebody was born in Portaferry, County Down around 1847. She is sometimes known as Mary Elizabeth Leebody, and in other sources Mary Isabella Leebody.[1][2] About 1867, she married mathematician Professor John Robinson Leebody of Foyle College, Derry, living the rest of her life in the city.[3][4] Leebody died in Derry 19 September 1911.[5][6]

Botanical work[edit]

Known as a diligent field botanist, her work focused on Counties Antrim, Londonderry, and Donegal. Leebody's most active years were between 1893 and 1904, and was an acquaintance of Robert Lloyd Praeger.[4] She was an active member of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, though she did not take up Praeger's idea of setting up a Derry Naturalists' Field Club. During the 1890s she collaborated with Praeger and Matilda Cullen Knowles, contributing material for Praeger's 1895 The Flora of the North-east of Ireland supplement.[2]

Leebody is credited with adding a number of new Irish records, including American orchid Spiranthes romanzoffiana,[7] in 1893, marking the beginning of her published work. Other records she published were Dryas octopetala on Muckish, Teesdalia nudicaulis on Lough Neagh, and Malaxis on Slieve Snaght.[1][3][6]


  1. ^ a b Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey; Harvey, Joy Dorothy (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: L-Z. London: Routledge. p. 765. ISBN 9780415920407.
  2. ^ a b Creese, Mary R. S.; Creese, Thomas M. (2004). Ladies in the Laboratory 2. Oxford: Scarecrow Press. p. 44. ISBN 9780810849792.
  3. ^ a b Praeger, Robert Lloyd (1949). Some Irish Naturalists: A Biographical Notebook. Dundalk: Dundalgan Press. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b Hackney, Paul; Morton, Osborne; Tyrie, Catherine. "The Herbarium of the National Museum and Galleries of Northern Ireland". Ulster Museum. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  5. ^ Desmond, Ray (1994). Dictionary Of British And Irish Botantists And Horticulturalists Including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 422. ISBN 9780850668438.
  6. ^ a b Praeger, Robert Lloyd (1911). "Mary Isabella Leebody". The Irish Naturalist. 20 (12): 218.
  7. ^ Lysaght, Sean (1997). "Contrasting Natures: The Issue of Names". In Foster, John Wilson; Chesney, Helena C.G. (eds.). Nature in Ireland: A Scientific and Cultural History. Dublin: The Lilliput Press. p. 450. ISBN 9780773518179.