Transcript of ‘Bibliography notes on Sister Mary Hardman’ Taken
from Newman Local History Collection Box 26 Items 85-87
Hardman, Mary Juliana, Sister of Mercy, born April 26, 1813, who assumed the name of Mary in
religion, was daughter of John Hardman, sen., of Birmingham, an opulent button-maker and medallist,
by his second wife, Lydia Wareing. The Hardmans originally came from Lytham in the Fylde, co.
Lancaster, being leaseholders under the Cliftons at Warton and Clifton-cum-Salwick. They were
staunch Catholics, and several of them were convicted of recusancy at the Lancaster sessions holden
Oct. 2, 1716. James Hardman left Lytham and settled at Birmingham about the middle of last century.
His son John, born Aug. 3, 1767, entered into partnership with Mr. Lewis as button-makers and
medallists, and in 1816 executed a medallion for the English and Irish Catholics in honour of the
reigning pontiff, Pius VII. He was married three times, first, to Juliana Wheetman, secondly, to Lydia
Wareing, and thirdly, to Mrs. Barbara Sumner, née Ellison. By his first wife he had a large family, of
whom Lucy alone survived, and married Wm. Powell, whose son John Hardman Powell married
Anne, eldest daughter of Augustus Welby Pugin, the eminent architect. By his second wife Mr.
Hardman had also a large family, among whom were Mary and Juliana, Sisters of Mercy ; Eliza, an
Augustinian nun, first at Spetisbury House, and afterwards at Newton Abbot, where she died in 1876 ;
and John, who married Anne, daughter of Geo. Gibson, of Manchester, formerly of York. Mr
Hardman was a man of great charity. He subscribed largely to the foundation and support of St.
Peter’s chapel, the first place of Catholic worship publicly opened in Birmingham since the
destruction of the Franciscan chapel in the reign of James II. He was equally generous towards the
building and furnishing of St. Chad’s Cathedral, and towards the bishop’s house and schools attached
to that church. Besides founding the convent of St. Mary’s, which will be spoken of later, he left a
foundation of £1000 towards the maintenance of the Catholic schools of the town, and supplemented
the endowment of St. Thomas’ Charity, which had been founded by his friend and partner, Mr.
Thomas Lewis. He was one of the founders of “The Catholic Sick and Burial Society.” Which began
its career on May 25, 1795, and is still in existence under the title of “The Birmingham R.C. Friendly
Society.” He may be credited with like honour in respect of the Orphanage for Catholic Girls at
Maryvale, as that institution arose from a similar charity which he had founded and supported near to
his own residence. He died after a long and painful illness, Aug. 10, 1844, aged 77. His funeral was
attended with the greatest ceremony that the Catholics of Birmingham had dared to exhibit since the
so-called Reformation. He was buried in a chantry in the crypt of the cathedral, which had been
presented to him as a freehold gift by Bishop Walsh in acknowledgement of his benefactions. Bishop
Wiseman, subsequently cardinal, delivered the funeral oration. A good portrait of him exists at St.
Mary’s Convent, Handsworth, painted by J.R. Herbert, R.A., representing him as kneeling, with the
convent he had erected in the Background. Juliana Hardman was educated in the Benedictine convent
at Caverswall. In 1841 her father founded the convent of Our Lady of Mercy at Handsworth. He gave
the land, erected the buildings, and provided everything necessary for the use of the sisters, at a cost
of £5335. John, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, supplemented this sum by a donation of £2000. In the
previous year Miss Hardman and three other ladies, the Misses Bond, Edwards and Wood, offered
themselves to Bishop Walsh to form the community. Under his patronage and advice they proceeded
to Ireland, and placed themselves under the direction of Mother Mary Cath. McAuley, foundress of
the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, St. Catherine’s Convent, Baggot Street, Dublin. After some
months they were followed by the Misses Borini and Polding. They made their religious profession,
Aug. 19, 1841, and the next day sailed for England, from which time is dated the commencement of
the community at Handsworth. On their arrival at the convent, Aug. 21, they were received by Bishop
Wiseman, coadjutor to Bishop Walsh. They proceeded to the chapel, and a solemn Te Deum was sung
for this first establishment of an active community of religious women in the Central District, where
already many convents of contemplative orders were flourishing. On Sept. 6, Bishop Walsh appointed
Sister Mary Juliana to be the first Superioress of the convent. She filled this office thirty-five years
out of the forty-two she spent in religious life, during which time fifty-nine sisters professed at St.
Mary’s. Amongst her many good works may be mentioned the foundation of a convent of her institute
at Nottingham, in 1844 ; the building of a House of Mercy for respectable servants out of place, at
Handwaorth, in the same year ; and the erection of the church of St. Mary’s, attached to the convent in
Brougham Street, Birmingham, in 1847. She also established a community at St. Chad’s, afterwards
transferred to St. Anne’s, Birmingham, in the latter year, and another convent, St. Joseph’s,
Wolverhampton, in 1849. She built an almonry for the daily relief of the poor, and opened poor-
schools in 1850. She established the orphanage which had been commenced on a small scale by her
father at Maryvale (Old Oscott College), and placed it under the care of sisters of her community.
Later, this was formed into a separate establishment under her sister, Mother Mary of the Cross, who
had joined her in 1843, and died March 15, 1855. In 1858 she erected a boarding-school for children
of the middle classes ; in 1872, a second set of elementary schools for the working classes ; and in
1874 she established a middle-class day-school for children of both sexes. Only a few weeks before
her death she consented, at the wish of her ecclesiastical superiors, to establish poor-law certified
schools for the reception of Catholic girls in the parish of Birmingham, a work which has been
successfully carried out since her death. She died at her convent after a short illness, March 24, 1884,