Maria Shirley was the daughter of William Waddington. She married Reverend Walter AugustusShirley (1797-1847) in Paris in 1827 and they had one son, Walter Waddington Shirley (1828-1866).Nothing is known of Maria's life other than what is revealed in her diary or what is known of herhusband. Fortunately the diary is a detailed account of two years of her life, and the career of herhusband, being a prominent churchman, is well documented. Maria appears to have taken an active roleas the wife of a vicar and bishop, attending church services and running classes for schoolchildren. Her diary begins after she had just moved from Brailsford, Derbyshire to Derby. She movedto the Isle of Man for a short time in 1847, and then returned to Derby in May of that year afterthe death of her husband.
Walter Augustus Shirley was born in Ireland, educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, andwas ordained in 1820. His career as a churchman began in Derbyshire but Shirley moved to Rome wherehe acted as a chaplain from 1826 to 1827. Following his marriage to Maria, he returned to Derbyshireto take his father's living as vicar at Shirley. He had the living of Whiston, near Rotherhamconjointly with Shirley in the mid-1830s before becoming parson of Brailsford, the neighbouringparish to Shirley. He was made archdeacon of Derby in 1840, and Bishop of Sodor and Man in 1846,moving to the Bishop's Court, Isle of Man a year later to take up the post. He died there in April1847.