Skip to main content

Mrs M. Worthington

Signed family name
Signed given name
Mrs M.
Given address
Temple of Truth Madras St
Sheet number
Central Christchurch

Biographical information provided by Moata Tamaira for the He Tohu exhibition:

Born Mary J. Hodgkins in Maine, USA in 1848, Mary married her first husband, a prominent Christian Scientist, John Plunkett in 1870. Together they had two children. Mary served as editor of the Christian Science Journal.

In New York in 1889 she began an affair with serial polygamist and fraudster Arthur Bently Worthington. They eloped to Christchurch with her children, arriving in January 1890.

In Christchurch they established a sect called the Students of Truth and built a church called the Temple of Truth next to their lavish home on Madras St. In 1893, after some power struggles between them within the church, her husband expelled her from the organisation. She later founded the New Zealand School of Mental Science using the name 'Sister Magdala'.

In 1901 she married Christchurch dentist John Atkinson but committed suicide in a fountain at her home a few months later, having become 'depressed in mind'.

Mary Worthington

Mrs. M. Worthington a.k.a. Sister Magdala
Reference: Archives New Zealand, AEGA 18982 PC4 Box 9/ 1893/30

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.