About Ann

Ann Walker’s Giving

While Ann Walker was away in the Russian Empire over the winters of 1839 and 1840 she wrote back three times to England to David Booth to give instructions on what to give to her tenants/people she knew. This blog looks at Ann Walker’s giving in these letters and discusses what they contain.

Note the bolded names in the letters have been done so by the author to emphasise that there is more information in the blog about these individuals.

Ann Walker (St Petersburg) to David Booth (Halifax) 7 October 1839

“… Be so good as to tell Mrs Oddy to send Mary Booth a quarter of a pound of tea every month during the winter; to tell the poor woman (whose name I forget) at Dove House to go to Hannah Green’s of Mytholm every Saturday – four weeks, from the time of your getting this letter, till the 1st April for a stone of flour – which Mrs Oddy will take care to pay Mrs Green for. Mrs Oddy must also be so good as buy at Christmas ten yards of yard-wide Calico, and 2 Blankets about 6 shillings apiece, such as she knows I have had before – The Calico to be divided into four portions 2 1/2 yards each, and given to…”

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/1082

Here Ann mentions 4 local women for the Calico and 2 local women for the blankets. She goes on to say:

“…Be so good as pay Mrs Lee three pounds on account of some poor people I asked her to be so good as look after & tell her I shall be obliged to her, to get out of this money, two good Rawlin shirts made for Dan Sharp – & to give Grace Schofield five shillings on 20th December – I hope you send the Tea to Alice Rushworth regularly – be so good as to pay her rent to Mr Hardcastle at Christmas, & see that she does not want for anything – …”

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/1082

She also instructs Booth to buy 17 and a half loads of potatoes to be distributed to 19 named people in her neighbourhood including the local widows and those who had served her family in some way. She also reminds him to check last year’s potato list as she was doing this one from memory. The letter or response doesn’t specify how large a “load” is, however, Anne Lister states that 30 loads will feed her family and 4 horses for the winter in a diary entry in 1839 (2). In this letter, Ann also instructs Booth to pay the school where she pays to send two children and enquires about the staff at Shibden Hall and the ponies.

One of the people that Ann sent potatoes to was William Dearnally, who received an annuity in John Walker senior’s will of £10 because he was the servant of Ann’s uncle, William Walker.

Alice Rushworth – is mentioned repeatedly in letters to and from Ann around this time. Ann asks Booth to make sure she has her Tea regularly sent to her, orders her half a load of potatoes and tells Booth to pay her rent. She also asks him to make sure that she wants for nothing and to make sure she is taken care of. Booth writes to Ann about the measures he took with Alice in February 1840 and informs her that she died in January. According to Anne Lister’s diary, Ann popped in to see Alice in March 1839 (3). Alice was buried at the age of 60 in St Matthews churchyard on 12th January 1840.

Grace Schofield – received 5 shillings and a load of potatoes from Ann near Christmas. We do not know much more about her. One of Ann Walker’s tenants in 1836 is a widow Schofield at Upper Green and she was buried in the St Matthews Churchyard in August 1839 but this death is before the letter is sent.

Dan Sharp – was an old servant from Crow Nest and lived at Bailiff Bridge. He is mentioned in the posthumous accounts of John Walker, Ann’s father, in 1823. He is also a beneficiary in the will of Hannah Heap, one of the Walker’s trusted servants and housekeeper, until her death in 1847. Ann tells Booth to keep an eye on him and do what he thinks best if Dan is in need, curiously she asks Booth to do this without letting on to Dan what she has asked of him.

Ann Walker (Moscow) to David Booth (Halifax) 17 December 1839

This letter was written exactly one year before the famous “Go on, fearlessly…” letter in 1840 (covered later on in the blog) and was also sent from Moscow. After discussing some business items, she then tells Booth what to give to the tenants and others.

“Tell Mrs Oddy to buy 3 yards of Rawlin for William Green‘s Xmas shirt which the kitchen girls will make, & to buy the yarn at 2/6/to 2/8 per (?) for his stockings at Mousseys which she will pay Mary Booth for knitting – & that Widow Holt is to have her half-crown as usual – I hope you look after poor Alice Rushworth, & do not let her want for anything – without saying anything to Dan Sharp, keep an eye upon him, & help him, if he is in need of it, as you think best. I also leave it at your discretion to say nothing, but to do for me for Richard Woodhead, if he has never recovered his accident, what you think right – See Mrs Fitton & ask her if she would like to have the lower part of the house where the boys Sunday School is kept at Lightcliffe I once mentioned it to her & if she would like to have it, let her have it when she chooses but do not mention this to any body but herself-“

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/1092

Mrs Susan Oddy is the servant/housekeeper at Shibden Hall and started appearing in Anne Lister’s diaries in December 1833 (4) although she is mentioned in a letter from Aunt Anne to Anne Lister in August 1833 (5).

“I am sure you will be glad to hear that I think my servant is likely to suit me in time – she is very attentive and obliging, and seems very anxious to do – and I think I have already improved her a little in regard to her manners – she is good looking, and dresses well, I may say handsomely – she wears fashionable caps, and is her own milliner – her name is Oddy – she looked surprised when I told her, she would be called Mrs. Oddy, but of course said nothing – indeed she is, as you may suppose, quite to make into a lady’s maid – I have said so much about her, as I thought you would wish me to be particular in my account”

Aunt Anne Lister to Anne Lister, 26 Aug 1833, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/713

She continued to work for Ann and Anne until they left for Russia. Susan Oddy is mentioned as living at Shibden Hall as a female servant in the 1841 census, along with the newly widowed Ann Walker and six other servants (6).

William Green – used to work for the Listers as an impromptu groom/servant (Anne Lister referred to him as her “uncle’s man” in April 1819 (7)) and then as a labourer but latterly had fallen upon hard times. He broke 2 ribs after a cow knocked him down (8) and then put his hip out after falling off a hay bale at Shibden (9) in 1835. He was still poorly in April 1836. Anne bought two cottages from him in 1835 (10) but by 1838, he had spent most of the purchase money. After William Green asks for money from Anne Lister, Anne says Ann or her have never given him anything but food and clothing (11). Later she suggests he should go to the poorhouse after the Guardians of the Poor suggested Anne should pension him, which she could not promise but states she had not charged him rent and then lets Samuel Washington know that he should give William “half a crown a week till my return” (12) while she is away in Europe. Ann writes in this letter to make sure that a Xmas shirt is made for him and asks the same in 1840 as well as 5 shillings.

Mrs Jane (Jenny) Fitton – according to Anne Lister’s diary is a former housekeeper at Crow Nest, she was living with her brother Richard Woodhead (who was also mentioned in Ann’s letter) at the time of the letter being written – she is still there in the 1841 census. Jane Woodhead was working at Crow Nest in 1822 as mentioned in the posthumous accounts of Ann’s father, John (13). She does not take up the offer of the lower floor of the schoolhouse as she “is so infirm and helpless, that she dare not live alone” (14). According to Anne Lister’s diary, Mrs Fitton came several times to see Ann at Shibden after 1834 and also Ann visits her in Cleckheaton in 1837 when Jane is very sick (15).

Richard Woodhead – was a carpenter/handyman who had done much work for Ann’s father, John Walker, as well as Ann and Anne previously. Anne Lister did not want him to work once because of his drinking one afternoon, but this decision was reversed by the intercedence of his sister, Mrs Fitton (16). David Booth thinks that he recovered from his injury “as to be able to work” but “he never will recover perfectly” (17)

Ann Walker (Moscow) to David Booth (Halifax) 17 December 1840

The famous “Go on, fearlessly…” letter is the final letter (that we know of) that Ann wrote back to David Booth because, by 2 January 1841, Ann was in Warsaw with her brother-in-law Captain Sutherland. They were on the way back to England after the death of Anne Lister in September 1840.

“Be so good as tell Mrs Oddy to provide a shirt and stockings for William Green” at Xmas as she did last year & to give him five shillings, also to let the woman at Dove House have flour as she had last year – If old widow Taylor of Lightcliffe be living be so good as give her three shillings & Betty Hodgson of Hipperholme five shillings at Xmas. Your letters are very satisfactory, go on, fearlessly do your duty, & bear in mind that “To the faithful reward is sure” – Ann Walker”

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/LL/406

“The woman at Dove House” – who is to receive flour is also mentioned in the October 1839 letter and receives 2.5 yards of calico material. Ann also asks in the earlier letter for her to go every 4th Saturday to Hannah Green’s for a stone (14 lbs) of flour that Mrs Oddy will pay Hannah for.

Widow Taylor – as well as receiving 3 shillings in 1840, received a half load of potatoes in the October 1839 letter.

Betty Hodgson – received 5 shillings in 1840 and was also the recipient of a load of potatoes in October 1839.


West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale.

Anne Lister Index

Friends of St Matthews


(1) National Archives C 106/60

(2) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/23/0046

(3) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/22/0140

(4) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/16/0152

(5) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/739

(6) Ancestry.co.uk, Census for England and Wales 1841

(7) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/2/0130

(8) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/18/0095

(9) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/18/0149

(10) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/18/0053

(11) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/21/0027

(12) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/21/0160

(13) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/3/5

(14) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/1110

(15) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/20/0026

(16) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/E/18/0053

(17) West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/ML/1110


Leila Straub for information on Mrs Oddy

Dorothy Barker & Ian Phelps (Friends of St Matthews) for help with information on the tenants

Deb Woolson for keeping up the morale and editing

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:

Diane Halford (2023) ”Ann Walker’s Giving”: In Search Of Ann Walker [Accessed *add date*]