About Ann

Ann, Family and Shibden Hall

Extracts from Ann Walker’s journal June 1834 – February 1835 describing Ann, family and her life at Shibden Hall

By Ivana Nika

Image of Ann Walker's diary - a notebook with a blue marble cover.
Ann Walker’s Diary for 4th June 1834 – 19th February 1835
WYC:1525/7/1/5/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale

We can enjoy reading Ann Walker’s journal covering the year when her relationship with Anne Lister took a serious turn. They took the sacrament together at Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate in York on 30th March 1834 to seal their union. In the summer of the same year they travelled through France and Switzerland as part of their honeymoon trip. Ann Walker recorded this trip in her journal; she noted down many small moments of happiness and personal excitement in seeing the ancient sights of Europe, and experiencing adventures such as passing over the Alps. After their honeymoon, Ann recorded her time spent living at Shibden Hall, Halifax, with the Listers.

Ann calls Anne “dearest”

Image shows the word "dearest" written by Ann Walker in her diary
WYC:1525/7/1/5/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale

Ann Walker’s journal has 77 pages (with page 50 of the journal left blank by Ann) starting on June 4th in 1834 and ending on February 19th in 1835. There’s a gap of two months when Ann didn’t write anything, leaving the diary pages for September and October of 1834 blank.

Ann Walker subtly and indirectly recorded the nature of her relationship with Anne Lister in her journal. Ann calls Anne “dearest” 118 times in the span of just seven months covered in the journal, usually abbreviating it as “drt-”. A couple of times she refers to Anne as “A –“ and once as “Miss Lister”.

NB: In the diary entries below, bold text was added by me to highlight the similarities in the entries. As is customary with entries from Anne Lister’s diary entries, italics denote the text that was written in crypthand.

The intimate moments

Ann Walker mentions the most intimate moments with Anne in just a few entries:
“August 7th Up at 5 o’clock return of bowel complaint lay down again, & being cold afterwards went to dearest, finally got up at 9.15 had excellent breakfast of, tea made in Jones’ hot water boiler, nice bread, & fresh strawberries, enjoyed breakfast more than I have done since I left England” (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/23)

Anne Lister writes on the same day in her journal in crypthand (which was her usual way to note intimate and sexual details in the diaries):
“1834 August Thursday 7th
[up at] 9 35/..
[to bed at] 12 5/..
Q [kiss]
she came to me about eight to warm her stomach still bowel complaint and it ended in a long good kiss to her and our lying till tolerably cool – on having my motion fancied cousin coming and so he did gently after breakfast but have not put anything on all today – fine morning Fahrenheit 68° at 10 ½ a.m. breakfast at 11 – made tea for Adney (1st time) in our Jones’s boiler – put the tea into boiling water and let it have 2 or 3 bubblings afterwards and it answered marvellously – Adney enjoyed it, and ate a large plat of strawberries and has seemed better ever since”

On another occasion Ann writes:
“August 13th very indifferent night. went to dearest 5.30 so poorly did not go with her to Fierminy [Firminy], got up at 7.25 very tired with dressing breakfast 13 to 9 – tea & Grapes, kept one bunch for dearest, then drew design of secretary & drawers, very sick, lay down”

Anne on the same day:
“1834 August Wednesday 13
6 ¼
11 40/..
twenty minutes quietly with Adney before getting up – fine morning Fahrenheit 68° at 6¼ a.m. made tea for Adney
off to Firminy at 7 25/.. “

Ann writes K for a kiss

Image of the letter 'K" written by Ann Walker in her diary
WYC:1525/7/1/5/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale

In the most intriguing entry Ann uses ‘K’ for a kiss, a term Anne Lister used frequently in her own diaries to mark content of explicit sexual nature:
“November 28th 1834 – arrived at Selby about 9 ½ – had tea & Sparlings, & went to bed – K – .”

… of which Anne writes the next day, on Saturday 29th November:
“A tolerable kiss last night”.

Ann writes ‘xx’ for her period

Image of text from Ann Walker's diary - January 24th Up at 10 to 9 – xx – breakfasted
“Jan 24th – Up at 10 to 9 – xx – breakfasted”
WYC:1525/7/1/5/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale

On January 24th 1835 Ann notes down that her period came using symbols xx and this is the only time she records this event at all:
“January 24th Up at 10 to 9 – xx – breakfasted”

Anne Lister confirms it in her diary entry for that day:
“Saturday 24th January 1835
[up at] 8
[to bed at] 11 ¼
no kiss A-‘s cousin came on her getting up –

Ann writes about a disagreement with Anne

We can also read about a misunderstanding (that was resolved the next day) between Ann and Anne in August of 1834, while they were travelling through France. Ann Walker is upset because Anne doesn’t want to talk to her, Anne being “silent and grave”, for the unsaid things between them.

Ann Walker writes:
“August 12th Up at 7.15 later than dearest never spoke all time of dressing – scarcely – wanted to go out without me – waited for me, silent & grave – walked to coal pit – dearest conversation with me – very kind, too kind & too grave to make me happy – walked home to Inn after an hour’s absence, dearest made tea for me, very grave, ended by explanation, all made up – & dearest quite as fond & kind to me as ever”.

Anne Lister writes in her journal on August 11th 1834:
not inclined to talk   Miss Walker fancied I said some this morning that I did not could not get her to tell me what and this disappointed me she observed my silence but thought me not well – “

The next day Anne Lister writes:
“breakfast at 10 5/.. to 11 ½ made all right with Adney she told me she thought I had said all we had (meaning all we were now spending) was hers and I ought to think it as much mine as hers I said I could not bear her to refuse me anything or keep anything secret from me and we were both attendries and better friends than ever – “.

Ann chose Shibden Hall as her home

Shibden Hall, Halifax, UK
Shibden Hall, Halifax Photo by Ivana Nika

Once Ann made the decision to move to Shibden Hall with Anne, there was no hesitation about it.

On June 10th 1834 while in London visiting her relatives, the Edwardses, Ann shows courage and determination in defending her life choices: “Asked if I should go to Lidgate on my return? No – going to Shibden Hall – & Let Lidgate surprise & sorrow expressed – said I was going to Paris for a few weeks”. (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/3 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Ann chose Shibden Hall as her home and the Listers as her family.

After Anne and Ann’s return to Shibden Hall, Halifax from their honeymoon we can find elements of domestic atmosphere in Ann’s journal regarding living with the Lister family: Anne, Aunt Anne, Anne’s father Jeremy and her sister Marian.

Ann, Aunty Lister and Mr. Lister

Image from Ann Walker's diary, text saying "went to Aunty"
“went to Aunty”
WYC:1525/7/1/5/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale

Ann shows great fondness for Anne’s aunt, elderly Mrs. Lister, whom she calls Aunty (twice in the journal), and for Anne’s father Jeremy, Mr. Lister, on a number of occassions. During the stay in Lyon, on August 11th Ann buys a black cashmere shawl with a large border for Aunt Lister ; on August 22nd in Paris Ann buys some grey ribbon for her.

“August 11th … bought a cashemire black & large border for Mrs. L- [Lister] tried at 2 other shops for satin noire, unsuccessful”

“August 22nd… walked thro’ alley Panorama – bought grey ribbon for Mrs. Lister, & my bonnet, went into toy shop – saw some nice tables, boxes, peacock paper screens, bought shawl for my Aunt at – La Page’s & one for dearest & one for me”

At Shibden Ann writes how she “Sat with Aunty ½ hour” (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/37) and, “went to Aunty” (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/38), using the term of endearment to show mutual affection with Anne’s aunt. She also notes down how she went to wish Mr. & Mrs. Lister good night or she sat with them talking, on a couple of occasions. On Sundays, the entire household would read prayers together and receive the sacrament.

“December 19th Received Sacrament with Mrs. Lister dearest Miss Marian – Oddy & George”

“January 25th… went to wish Mr. Lister good night”

On January 26th 1835 Ann started knitting a blanket for Mrs. Lister.

Ann and Miss Marian Lister

With Marian, Ann had conversations either about household management (after kitchen servant Cordingley left), or the town gossip:
“January 22nd chatted with Miss Marian – long talk about R[awson]’s perhaps not hold out 2 years longer”

On January 23rd “lent Miss Marian Lodge’s Portraits”
[Edmund Lodge: Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain, in 8 vols., London, printed for Harding and Lepard, 1st ed. 1814. https://archive.org/details/portraitsillust12lodggoog]

“January 26th Up at 9. long conversation with Miss Marian about Cordingley”

On 1st December 1834 Marian had a long difficult talk with her sister about her decision to marry Mr. Abbott. Anne Lister noted in her diary how Marian at that time already felt that Ann was part of the Lister family:
“Monday 1 December 1834 she [Marian] kept me talking near one hour – did not like to deceive her family I at liberty to tell A- [Adney] now one of the family and my aunt it seems she has told my father and he knows that I know of it but he neither gave any opinion or made any remark himself nor asked what I had said she has made up her mind to marry Mr. Abbott

Ann and Aunt Ann Walker

While travelling through France and Switzerland Anne and Ann receive letters from Mrs. Lister and Mrs. Walker of Cliff Hill and write back to them in Halifax and Lightcliffe. Ann writes letters on her own and shares their content with Anne, and vice versa.

In Geneva, Ann receives a letter from Mrs. Lister, in which Aunt Lister tells Ann how Aunt Ann Walker at Cliff Hill was upset by not knowing of Ann’s intentions. This prompts Ann to write back to her aunt explaining how the decision to travel abroad came about unexpectedly.

“July 1st Up at 7 – breakfasted at 9 – answered my sister’s letter, & Washington’s & wrote to my Aunt whom Mrs. Lister said in her letter was very much hurt that she did not know sooner I was coming abroad tho’ it had been talked of by all the world for some months – said to my Aunt that I was sorry to hear this, it was out of my powers to tell her sooner as I did not know myself & wrote to her, & my sister, as soon as it was fixed, that to them I had never been intentionally uncommunicative, & that it was very unlike me, to tell my plans to all the world but herself (my Aunt).”

Ann stayed on good terms with her Aunt at Cliff Hill, visiting her often in Anne’s company.

“November 24th – Mr. Jeremiah Dyson called, (not at home) went to Cliff Hill – my Aunt very kind, & wished me a pleasant journey to Hull”

“December 18th Dined at Cliff hill

“January 20th My Aunt very glad to see us, (at Whitehall met Hinscliffe) & Dearest asked her about a servant did not recollect any one likely but would let us know if she heard”

“January 30th breakfasted & off to Cliff Hill  …  asked my Aunt to let me have a snack when she dined”

Ann and her sister, Elizabeth Sutherland

Ann is also in frequent contact with her sister who lives in Udale, Scotland with her family. On June 21st, Ann writes to Elizabeth; “wrote to my sister. told her all we had seen & done, that I was “delighted with it, quite well, & very happy” (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/8); on another occasion Ann advises Elizabeth to buy blue spectacles regarding her complaint of poor sight, just like Ann had bought a pair for herself when she was in London, before travelling to the continent:

“June 9th… Lund Cornhill to buy blue spectacles

“July 1st … To my sister (whose eyes are still very bad) said I hope she would have the best advice for them, if they were not soon better.”

“July 22nd … told my sister to direct to Paris “pour le retour” & advised her to get blue spectacles

On August 23rd in Paris, Ann bought a little white frock for her niece Mary, soon to be 5 years old.

Ann and her brother, John Walker

On January 19th 1835, at Shibden Hall, while the ground is covered with snow, Ann remembers her brother “five years to day since I lost my poor brother at 3 oclock in the afternoon”.

All of these personal details paint a picture of Miss Ann Walker, in her own words.


Journal of Ann Walker, Including travels in France and Switzerland with Anne Lister, (previously attributed to Anne Lister), June 1834 – Ferbuary 1835, 1 volume, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, WYC:1525/7/1/5/1

Diary of Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, 10 March 1834-21 March 1835, 1 volume, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/17

Transcription credits:
Team ISAW for Ann Walker’s journal: Alexa Tansley, Diane Halford, Dorjana Širola, Ivana Nika, Leila Straub

Extracts from Anne Lister’s diaries from:

Dorjana Širola: Twitter: d_sirola Blog: https://the-deeds-to-shibden.tumblr.com/,

Kerstin H: Twitter: @A_While_Since  Blog: awhilesince.tumblr.com

Sophie Coston: Twitter: @Rundle_Walker

Edited by Louise Godley

In Search of Ann Walker’s research into Ann’s life is ongoing, therefore new discoveries may change the way we chronicle her life in the future.

How to cite this article:
Ivana Nika (2021) “Ann, Family and Shibden Hall” : In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]