Mary Holderness's origins, maiden name, and death date are at present unknown. In the spring of 1815, she and her husband appear to have answered an advertisement placed in the Suffolk press by the Reverend Arthur Young, 1769-1827 (son of the agriculturalist, Arthur Young 1741-1820), who sought farmers to accompany him to the Crimea and to sublet or buy parcels of land within a large estate that Young had purchased there.
In September, the Holderness family (including four children, one an infant barely two months old) joined Young in London as preparations for the voyage were underway and the party sailed from Gravesend on 13 October, arriving in Riga on 6 November. They journeyed overland from Riga to Karagoss (present-day Pervomais'ke), the Crimea, between 18 November and 3 February 1816. They resided there until March 1820 when Mary departed (possibly, by this time, without her husband), stopping for two months at Nicolayeff (present day Mykolaiv) where she spent Easter before revisiting Odessa.
Once back in England and under the impression that Young was planning to publish a travel book pertaining to the period of her residence abroad, Holderness published only her Notes Relating to [...] the Crim Tartars (1821), but New Russia (1823) followed when it was clear that Young had abandoned his account (her friend, William Upcott, helped her negotiate terms with Sherwood and Jones in November 1822).
Holderness published only one other book, a collection of scriptural meditations and hymns, A Manual of Devotion (1825), although a second edition of New Russia appeared in 1827. In 1828, her name came to the attention of the Royal Literary Fund as 'a widow with six children, and without any provision, but what her pen affords which is scanty and precarious', residing at 19 Golden Terrace in Pentonville, where she took in lodgers to support her family.
Gazley, John G. 'The Reverend Arthur Young, 1769-1827: Traveller in Russian and Farmer in the Crimea'. Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 38.2 (1956): 360-405.
Royal Literary Fund. MS. British Library. Loan 96 RLF 1/627.
Upcott, William, comp. Distinguished Women. Vol. 2. MS. British Library. Add MS 78687, fols. 61-65.