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Mary Symonds was born in 1772 in Hereford, England, and is known as an artist and letter-writer. In 1801, she accompanied her older sister, Lady Elizabeth Gwillim, the bird artist, and Elizabeth's husband, Sir Henry Gwillim, to India (modern-day Chennai). Both sisters wrote home often about their activities, with vivid descriptions of daily life in India, as well as commentary on Indian culture. Mary particularly enjoyed the many social invitations of British life in Madras during the Company Raj. Like her sister, Mary also painted and some of her works, including those of fish, are part of the works donated by Casey A. Wood to the Blacker Wood Collection at McGill’s Rare Book Library. After her sister died in 1807, Mary and her brother-in-law sailed back to England. In 1809 Mary married John Ramsden, captain of the ship on which she had returned from India.