Mary was born in Alyth, the daughter of Anne Teavendale and William Allen, an iron moulder who had trouble getting work because of his Trade Union activities. She married David Halley, a draper, director of Dundee United, and later the owner of Halley’s Bar. and they had three daughters. She was a member of the Women’s Freedom League. In February 1911 she took part in the census protest, and had twenty women staying at her house. The point of this was that women who were not at home on the night of the census were not registered, and as they could not vote they declined to be registered. Mary was the only woman threatened with prosecution, perhaps because of her father’s activities.

In later life she stood for the Town Council, but was unsuccessful. The family lived at Roycroft, a comfortable house in Yewbank Ave, Broughty Ferry. Mary was a woman of medium build; a keen gardener and dog breeder; and very strong minded, although she didn’t talk about her past. “You could say,” her great niece remembered, “that she was a hard woman.”