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Mary was born in 1850, the daughter of Ewen MacLeod and Catherine Campbell, cottars on 2 Ruisgarry (Sandhill), then at Quay. Her father died when Mary was just six years old.
She became a domestic servant and in 1877 married Allan MacLeod, cottar on 2 Lickisto, though from Berneray. Their eldest child Ewen was born on Berneray in 1878; the other six children - Mary, John, Donald, Angus, Catherine and Mary Ann - presumably at Lickisto.