On July 8, 1837, Mary Josephine Foley was born. She grew up with a strong role model in her mother, Catherine Pack Foley, who supported her young family after being widowed when Mary was three. Catherine taught in Ireland and in Edinburgh, where she also opened a governess placement service. [Shades of Miss Violet Hunter in COPP –Chips]
In Edinburgh, to make ends meet, Mrs Foley took in boarders. One of those boarders was Charles Altamont Doyle, then seventeen years old. In 1885, Mary Foley and Charles Doyle were married.
Arthur Conan Doyle was their third child, and first son. Charles was a talented artist, but he was unstable and developed a problem with alcohol. He was eventually committed to a mental institution.
Arthur took his role as “man of the family” quite seriously, supporting his mother and sisters. He and his mother – he called her “the Ma’am” – remained close, exchanging letters that reveal a loving relationship in which he continued to look to her for advice.
Source: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”)