Mary Wakefield (journalist)

Mary Wakefield
Mary Elizabeth Lalage Wakefield

(1975-04-12) 12 April 1975 (age 46)
Alma mater
EmployerThe Spectator
(m. 2011)

Mary Elizabeth Lalage Wakefield (born 12 April 1975)[1][2] is a British journalist, and a columnist and commissioning editor for The Spectator.

Early life

Wakefield is the daughter of Katherine Mary Alice (née Baring) and Sir Humphry Wakefield.[citation needed] She has two brothers; Maximilian Wakefield (born 1967), an entrepreneur and racing car driver,[3][1] and Jack Wakefield (born 1977), former director of the Firtash Foundation and an art critic who writes for The Spectator and other publications.[4][5] A third brother, William Wakefield, was born in 1975 and died in infancy.[3]

Wakefield was educated at the independent girls' boarding school Wycombe Abbey before studying at the University of Edinburgh and obtaining a degree.

Family provenance

Through her mother, she is descended from[clarification needed] Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale, the Governor of Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising, and Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey, a Governor General of Canada, and through the latter, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, of the House of Grey, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, after whom Earl Grey tea is named.[1]

The vast Baring family fortune was made partly from the slave trade. Members of the Baring family received compensation for lost income due to slaves' emancipation under the Slave Compensation Act 1837 (Alexander Baring, a great x 4 uncle, received £9,900,[6] £1.3m when adjusted for inflation in 2019). The loan taken out by the government to pay for this compensation was fully paid off only in 2015.[7]


Wakefield has worked at the weekly magazine The Spectator for decades, since Boris Johnson was editor, and was commissioning editor in 2017,[8] assistant editor from 2001[9] and then deputy editor.[10] She also writes for the magazine as a columnist,[11] and has written for The Sun, Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Times.[12]

In 2015, following an online petition, Wakefield apologised and amended an article she had written for The Spectator in which she described an 18-year-old who had recently died in a moped crash as a "thuggish white lad".[13]

Her father's Chillingham Castle website refers to her as "Daughter Mary, a musician and painter, [who] is also Assistant Editor of The Spectator".[14]

Personal life

In December 2011, Wakefield married Dominic Cummings, a friend of her brother Jack Wakefield.[15] In 2016, they had a son,[16][17] Alexander Cedd, named after an Anglo-Saxon saint.[15]

She is a convert to Catholicism,[18] having been raised in the Anglican tradition.[19] [20] Wakefield was portrayed by Liz White in the 2019 Channel 4 drama Brexit: The Uncivil War.[21] Wakefield is second cousin once removed to Alexander Armstrong; they share a direct ancestor in the person of colonial administrator Sir John Perronet Thompson.[22][23][24]


On 25 April, Wakefield wrote an article for The Spectator[25] about her experience when both she and Cummings contracted COVID-19.[26] On 22 May it was reported that Wakefield and Cummings had driven over 260 miles (c. 420 km) each way between London and Durham in late March to stay in a cottage at her father-in-law's farm,[27] while both, reportedly, were exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms,[28] although Cummings states that his symptoms appeared the day after the journey was made.[29]

An eyewitness saw Wakefield on 12 April walking in Barnard Castle in the company of Cummings and their son,[30] after a complaint to the Durham Constabulary by another witness who claimed to have seen Cummings with a group of people in the same town.[31] Cummings himself admitted that he made the 52-mile round trip with his wife and child to see whether he could drive safely, saying, "My wife was very worried, particularly given my eyesight seemed to have been affected by the disease. She did not want to risk a nearly 300-mile drive with our child [back to London], given how ill I had been."[32]

Following an investigation into these reports, Durham Constabulary stated that, whereas the trip to Barnard Castle might have been a minor breach of the lockdown regulations, the trip to Durham itself was not. Durham Constabulary stated they would take no further action in the matter.[33] Alleged inconsistencies between Cummings's account and his wife's have been discussed in the press,[34] and reported to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the magazine's regulator.[35]


  1. ^ a b c Coke, Hope (26 May 2020). "Dominic Cummings's wife Mary Wakefield has aristocratic roots". Tatler. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Mary Elizabeth WAKEFIELD". Companies House. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b Wakefield, Sir (Edward) Humphry (Tyrrell). Who's Who 2014. A. & C. Black. 2014.
  4. ^ Komarnyckyj, Stephen (23 October 2019). "Firtash: How the Trump Impeachment Scandal Leads back to British Brexiters". Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Jack Wakefield". Spectator. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Summary of Individual | Legacies of British Slave-ownership". Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  7. ^ "When will Britain face up to its crimes against humanity?". The Guardian. 2 March 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  8. ^ Maya Oppenheim (5 July 2017). "Dominic Cummings: The Vote Leave chief who invented £350m claim before admitting Brexit was a mistake". The Independent. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  9. ^ Conlan, Tara (31 January 2008). "Spectator rejigs team as Stuart Reid retires". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  10. ^ Patrick (1 February 2008). "Long-standing Spectator deputy editor Reid stands down". Press Gazette. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Mary Wakefield". The Spectator. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Mary Wakefield | The Spectator Journalist". MuckRack. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  13. ^ O'Connor, Mary (13 August 2015). "Journalist Apologises after 'Disgusting' Knife Crime Piece". The Islington Gazette. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  14. ^ "The Family". Chillingham Castle. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Dominic Cummings has 'done' Brexit. Now he plans to reinvent politics". Financial Times. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  16. ^ Rabbett, Abigail; Morley, Nicole (8 January 2019). "Who is Dominic Cummings? The Durham man behind Brexit played by Benedict Cumberbatch in Channel 4 show". Evening Chronicle.
  17. ^ Wakefield, Mary (10 August 2019). "The reason middle-class parents are so anxious". The Spectator.
  18. ^ "25/04/2020". Today. 25 April 2020. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 29 April 2020. (starts at 1h 48min)
  19. ^ Mary, Wakefield (21 December 2019). "Why I changed my mind about Catholicism". Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Matthew Elliott (4 January 2019). "Vote Leave's Matthew Elliott on Channel 4's Brexit: The Uncivil War". Financial Times. Screenwriter James Graham has turned the campaign into a compelling story – and nailed my mannerisms
  22. ^ Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 31 October 2001.
  23. ^ Simon Evans. "Alexander Armstrong:"My family is my priority"". Choice Magazine. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  24. ^ Forthcoming marriages, The Times, 2 September 1929, p.15.
  25. ^ Wakefield, Mary. "Getting coronavirus does not bring clarity". The Spectator (25 April 2020). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  26. ^ Grant, Katie (24 April 2020). "Dominic Cummings collapsed and spent 10 days in bed after getting coronavirus". Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  27. ^ Stubley, Peter. "Dominic Cummings: Timeline of alleged lockdown breaches". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  28. ^ "Calls for Cummings to resign after lockdown travel". BBC News. 23 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Dominic Cummings: Full statement on lockdown row". BBC News. 25 May 2020.
  30. ^ Weaver & Dodd (24 May 2020). "Dominic Cummings facing possible police investigation as pressure mounts". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  31. ^ Parveen & Weaver (25 May 2020). "Barnard Castle witness calls for Cummings to quit after hearing defence". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Dominic Cummings: Fact-checking the row". BBC News. 30 May 2020.
  33. ^ "Durham Constabulary press statement". Durham Constabulary. 28 May 2020. Archived from the original on 19 January 2021.
  34. ^ Bland, Archie (26 May 2020). "Inconsistencies between Cummings' lockdown story and his wife's". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  35. ^ Waterson, Jim (28 May 2020). "Quarantine article by Dominic Cummings' wife reported to regulator". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2020.

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