Magee, Martha Maria (d. 1846), benefactor, was born in Lurgan, Co. Antrim. She was the granddaughter of a clergyman, the Rev. William Holmes of Antrim. In 1780 she married Lurgan's presbyterian minister, William Magee, with whom she had two sons, but was left in straitened circumstances by his death on 9 July 1800. Her finances were further depleted following the deaths of her sons, both of whom had careers in the British army and she became dependent on the Presbyterian Widows’ Fund. Her position improved only after the deaths of her two brothers, both high-ranking army men, who left her sizeable fortunes. She moved to Dublin, where she maintained her frugal lifestyle and devoted much of her time and money to charitable projects.
At the time of her death in Dublin on 22 June 1846 she was a member of the congregation of the Rev. Richard Dill (1807–58) on Usher's Quay. Dill, to whom she left a house in Blessington Street, the Rev. John Brown, and barrister James Gibson were appointed trustees of her will, by which she left up to £75,000 to a number of presbyterian charities. Among these were the Foreign and Home Missions and the Female Orphan School (then connected with the Usher's Quay church); other bequests included a donation for the newly established church on Ormond Quay and, most notably, a large sum (sources variously give the figure as £20,000 and £25,000) to found a college to educate presbyterian students for the ministry. Coinciding as this did with government plans to establish a university in Belfast, many key figures in the general assembly were anxious to see the Magee bequest go to funding a theological school within the university. At odds with what became known as ‘the Belfast party’ was ‘the country party’, led by Magee's trustees, who felt that presbyterians would have little control over teaching in a government-run institution, and that nothing short of a separate presbyterian college, providing instruction in both arts and theology, would be acceptable. After a lengthy and often bitter debate between the two factions, Magee's trustees secured a chancery court decision in favour of their interpretation of her intentions (April 1861), and despite continued opposition from the general assembly they founded Magee College in Londonderry, which was opened in 1865. In 1938 memorials were erected to both Magee and Dill in the Ormond Quay church, Dublin.