Alcock was born Mary Cumberland, the youngest child of Joanna (Bentley) (1704/5-1775) and Bishop Denison Cumberland (1705/6-1774). Richard Bentley, classicist and master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was her maternal grandfather; playwright Richard Cumberland (1732–1811) was her brother.
She spent her childhood in the towns of Stanwick, Northamptonshire and Fulham, Middlesex.
In 1762 her family relocated to Ireland, when Denison Cumberland's father was appointed as chaplain to George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It was there that she married, in or around 1770, although the identity of Alcock, her husband, has not been satisfactorily established (according to her will he was the Rev. Alexander Alcock).
Her husband's mental health seems to have been fragile and the marriage was probably unhappy. She nursed her parents through long illnesses until their deaths and cared for her 7 nieces after the death of her sister Elizabeth Hughes in 1770. A widow by the early 1780s, she moved to Bath, Somerset, where she was part of the literary circle of Lady Anne Miller (1741–1781). She participated in various charitable activities.
Never robust, she died at the age of 57 in Northamptonshire.
Her niece Joanna Hughes edited her collected works after her death: some 183 pages of poems and essays. The collection received little critical interest, although subscribers included Charles Burney, Elizabeth Carter, William Cowper, Hannah More, and some members of the royal family.
- The Confined Debtor: A fragment from a prison (1775)
- "The Air Balloon; or, Flying mortal" (poem, 7 pp., pub. anon. 1784)
- Poems … by the late Mrs Mary Alcock. London: C. Dilly, 1799.
- Blain, Virginia, et al., eds. "Alcock, Mary." The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1990. 13.
- Ellis, Markman. "Alcock , Mary (1741?–1798)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. 19 Jan. 2007.
- ↑ Mary Alcock, Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive. Web, Mar. 29, 2020.
- ↑ "England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858". https://www.ancestry.co.uk/interactive/5111/40611_309862-00348?pid=509180&backurl=https://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv%3D1%26dbid%3D5111%26h%3D509180%26tid%3D112823909%26pid%3D192111433925%26hid%3D1010668879341%26usePUB%3Dtrue%26_phsrc%3DFzw4619%26_phstart%3Ddefault%26usePUBJs%3Dtrue&treeid=112823909&personid=192111433925&hintid=1010668879341&usePUB=true&_phsrc=Fzw4619&_phstart=default&usePUBJs=true&_ga=2.51225834.23609292.1560842009-370532284.1511351059&_gac=1.61799774.1559299724.Cj0KCQjwocPnBRDFARIsAJJcf977uwBAVTZt7AG5VTkEx4nAbN9c86rcwR8d4IijuBa2CbWR8lUNyZUaAuSEEALw_wcB.
- Mary Alcock at Amazon.com
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