Mary is the one daughter of Lyman Beecher who never became aggressively political. She did not speak out against slavery or on behalf of women's suffrage and was purely private throughout her life. Mary received her primary education at Miss Pierce's school in Litchfield, CT along with her sisters Harriet and Catherine. She partnered with Catharine Beecher to open the Hartford Female Seminary, but disliked teaching. She married Thomas C. Perkins, a prominent lawyer in Hartford, and settled there for the rest of her life. She and Thomas had four children. She is grandmother of author Charlotte Perkins Gillman.