Ann’s People

(Aunt) Ann Walker

Photo used with kind permission of Ian Philp, Friends of Lightcliffe Churchyard. The plaque is stored in the vestry of St Matthew’s Church, Lightcliffe.


Ann Walker was the youngest of five children born to William & Elizabeth Walker in 1757. Her siblings were Mary (1747-1822), William (1749-1804), Elizabeth (1750-1829) and John (1753-1823). 1  

The Walkers were wealthy wool merchants, owned stock and a vast amount of property that only grew over time.

Ann, like her sister Mary and brother William never married. Her sister Elizabeth married John Priestley and brother John married Mary Edwards. John & Mary were the parents of Ann Walker of Crow Nest. Ann Walker Sr was Ann’s aunt.

After Ann’s sister Mary died in 1822, she was referred to as Mrs. Ann Walker or Ann Walker Sr. In this blog, Ann’s Aunt Ann will be referred to as Ann Sr.


In William Walker’s (Ann Sr’s father) will proved 28 July 1787, he bequeathed each of his three daughters £3,500 2 which is equivalent to about £573,803.73 today.3

In 1809, her brother William, whose inheritance from his father was considerable, died and left her his Cross Platt Farm as well as an annuity of £250.4

It is not currently known where on the Walker estate Ann Sr and sister Mary lived prior to Cliff Hill. They could have lived with their brother William at Crow Nest until his death at which time they may have moved to Cliff Hill. Or they might have lived with brother John and his family at Cliff Hill until that family moved into Crow Nest. As research continues, we hope to learn more.

After 1809, Ann Sr and her sister Mary lived together at Cliff Hill. Mary died in 1822. In her will, written in 1817 and proved in November 1823, she left one thousand pounds to her nieces and nephew Elizabeth, Ann and John Walker Jr. To Ann Sr she left the interest of four thousand pounds for her life. Her brother John Walker and nephews William Priestley and Edward Priestley served as Executors. 5  

Her brother John died in 1823 and in his will, he allowed both his sisters use of Cliffe Hill for life.

I give to my three Sisters the Sum of One hundred Pounds apiece as a token of my remembrance of them and it is my Will and mind and I do hereby declare and direct that my Sisters Ann and Mary and the Survivor of them shall and may if they or she think fit use and enjoy such part of my Estate at Upper Cliff Hill as his[sic] now in their occupation so long as they or the Survivor of them shall live upon the terms and conditions they now hold the same6

With Mary gone, Ann Sr lived at Cliff Hill for the remainder of her life.

Many years later, Ann Sr would argue with her nephew William Priestley over her sister, Mary Walker’s will. We’ll discuss this later in the blog, but first she waged a battle over her brother John’s will, which would become an issue for John Walker Jr’s estate.

Claim against John & John Jr estates

We learn several things from a legal opinion of Feb 1831, one being that advice was sought regarding Ann Sr making a claim against Fanny Walker (John Jr’s widow) for payment of the arrears of a £250 annuity left to her by her brother William in 1809. When William died, most of his estate went to his brother John Sr (Ann Walker’s father). The will included instructions to pay the £250 he left to his sisters.

Sister Elizabeth Priestley received hers until her death in 1829, while Mary & Ann Sr only received one year of the annuity. On Mary’s death it was decided not to recover her annuity arrears.

John Walker Sr died in 1823 with provisions for his sisters’ annuities to be paid. The bulk of his estate was left to John Walker Jr who died intestate while on his honeymoon with his new wife Fanny in January 1830. Fanny buried him in Italy and it took months for her to return home. She was pregnant and, on her return, sadly gave birth to a stillborn son in Oct 1830.

In this legal opinion, we also learn that in 1829, Ann Sr had made a claim against John Walker Sr’s estate for £13,000, which is equivalent to £1,437,006.36 today and received payment by his executors H L Edwards and William Priestley for:

"in respect of monies lent by her to him in his lifetime, and for interest due thereon and also in respect of two certain legacies given and bequeathed to her in and by the last Will and Testament of her said father William Walker... and also by the last Will and Testament of her said Brother William Walker upon certain tenements and hereditaments therein respectively mentioned."7

It appears the arrears of the £250 annuity was a different claim.

The opinion includes this language:

"It is admitted that Miss Ann Walker never made any claim against her Brother John or her nephew John, and it is possible she may have said she never intended that they should pay it; however in consequence of her nephew's death intestate, and without children, by which means a very considerable sum of money will entirely pass out of the family, she has been induced to make a claim for the whole arrears of the annuity against Mrs Walker the administratrix against H Edwards and W Priestley the Executors of John Walker the father and against Mrs Sutherland and Miss Walker the two Sisters and co-heiresses of John Walker the Son. Mrs Walker refuses to pay the arrears of the annuity tho' the personalty to which she succeeds is more than sufficient for the purpose."8
(CN:100/2 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Apparently, a settlement was negotiated with Fanny, John Walker Jr’s widow and administratrix, though the amount isn’t currently known, to pay Ann Sr. In an 1831 letter from Robert Parker, solicitor to George M. Sutherland regarding a meeting with Fanny Walker’s solicitor:

"I met E Alexander yesterday and after a little warm altercation Thursday next was fixed by him for paying off Miss Walker of Cliff Hill." 9
(CN:100/2 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale) 

As research is ongoing, it’s possible that we may one day learn more about this.

Relationship with her nieces

Anne Catherine Rawson

Ann Sr became Godmother to Anne Catherine Rawson, daughter of her niece Mary and her husband William H Rawson on 12 February,1810. This document shows the sponsors as Wm Rawson, Esq., Mrs Cathe Rawson & Miss Anne (sic)Walker.

WYC:1525/6/8/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale

Ann Walker & Elizabeth Sutherland

Through Anne Lister’s Diary, Ann Walker’s Journal and the letters between Ann and her sister Elizabeth Sutherland, we get some insight into their relationship with their aunt.

When the Ann(e)s were on their honeymoon, the elder Ann was clearly upset that she hadn’t been told about their trip.

Ann Walker’s Journal 1st July, 1834

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).”10
(WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/0013 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

There are many entries in Anne Lister’s Diary that speak to Ann Sr’s disapproval of her niece’s decision to move into Shibden Hall. Here’s just one entry about the stress her words caused her niece Ann.

Anne Lister’s Diary 8th September 1834

"went to Cliff Hill, and brought A- away at 5 35/.. no shake-hands with her aunt who had been crosser than ever - How tiresome! Gets upon poor A-‘s nerves, and undoes all good - Surely she will cease to care for such senseless scolding by and by - All sorts of bitterness against me - I am said to have said in York, I would have nothing to do with her “troublesome friends” and indeed her friends, said Mrs. A.W., would not trouble her (A-) much at Shibden - the poor old woman’s head is crammed full of pother and untruths - ”11
1834 (SH:7/ML/E/17/0082 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Anne Lister’s diary transcriptions describe the up-and-down relationship Ann Sr had with both Ann(e)s as they lived their life together at Shibden Hall. There were times when she treated them normally, almost kindly, but many more times she didn’t.

Niece Ann Walker faced public criticism that she had not moved in to care for her aunt.

Ann Walker & Elizabeth Sutherland would frequently discuss their aunt in letters they exchanged. This was a particularly lengthy, detailed letter regarding her aunt’s physical decline and explanation of why Ann did not move in with her.

15th Oct 1834 Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland about Aunt Ann:

"With regard to your remark about my Aunt I never thought her so much  altered till the other day, or, I should have named it, I then saw her get up to walk across the room when I perceived that she stooped exceedingly and leaned much more than she used to do to one side. You may probably have heard already that Mary Rawson went to Cliff Hill on the 2d of October, Miss Lister was told, and from good authority to reside, and at my Aunt’s own proposal - I can only tell you that I have never heard one word of this myself, that I called at Cliff hill the day Mary arrived without knowing she was there, and that my Aunt told me of her stay, as if it was by mere accident she had come for the day and was kept - I am really very glad and thankful that my Aunt has at last got someone; for I have long thought she ought, and I have often felt very uneasy about her -, as it was not in my power to do more than I had done - I was the only unmarried Niece who could be with her, and I really did make her the proposal to live with her, and tho’ I had not at that time what I have now, you are well aware that with what my father left me I could have shared half the expenses of the home with her and lived very comfortably, she took a fortnight to consider of the proposal and then said she thought “old and young people did not suit12
(CN:103/4/29 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

In 1839 when Ann Walker and Anne Lister were packing for what would be their final trip, Ann did not share the news of their travelling with her aunt per Anne Lister’s diary. On several occasions in June 1839, Ann Walker prevented Anne Lister from informing her aunt. This is very telling as to her relationship with her aunt. Ann did however write to her sister Elizabeth saying they were unavoidably delayed and she’d write again when in London. There’s no indication, at this time, that she shared the extent and length of the trip with Elizabeth prior to leaving Halifax. On 3rd July, Ann wrote to both her sister and her aunt.13 Unfortunately we don’t know how Ann Sr took the news, though from past experience, we can imagine she may have been displeased. Ann continued to write to both Elizabeth and her aunt while away.

Relationship with Servants

In April 1835, Ann Sr’s coachman of upward of 20 years, William Drake died, leaving her much affected. She no doubt had confidence and trust in such a long relationship with her servant.

5 May, 1835 In a letter from Ann Walker to Elizabeth Sutherland, Ann writes:

You would, of course, see poor William Drake’s death in the newspaper; he was taken ill last Sunday fortnight, and died on - the Wednesday-week following, I understand, of inflammation in the kidneys My Aunt has been much hurried about him. She has had several men to offer for the place, and yesterday sent Washington to inquire the character of one she thought the most likely. The character is good; and my Aunt may probably take him, if he will agree to her terms of living in the house, and going home, as William did.”14
(CN:103/4/46 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Leeds Mercury 2 May 1835©The British Library Board

19 May, 1835 Elizabeth Sutherland’s response to Ann Walker:

“I am sure my Aunt will be much inconvenienced in consequence of the death of William Drake he had lived so long with her that he knew all her ways and she could place greater confidence in him that she can possibly do in a stranger”15
(CN:103/4 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

An article appeared in the Brighouse News on 6 April 1900 with an interview of a 75-year-old woman, Mrs. Hannah (nee Drake) Blackburn.  She left school at an early age when her father died and she needed to go to work. Her father was William Drake, Ann Sr’s coachman who passed in 1835. In this clipping she speaks about her sister working for Miss Ann Walker and that her servants were not allowed to go ‘marketing’ above once in three months. ‘Marketing’ most likely meant personal shopping. We know that from the 1841 England Census16  that Hannah’s sister was 26-year-old Mary Drake, who was a servant of Ann Sr’s at Cliff Hill.

Brighouse News 6 April 1900. Interview with a Mrs Blackburn remembering Ann Walker Sr.
Brighouse News 6 April 1900 ©The British Library Board

We can see through the Walker sisters’ letters that losing a trusted servant was not easy for Ann Sr and also, through this newspaper clipping, that she may not have been particularly kind to her servants. In all fairness, we don’t know Ann Sr’s side of any of this.

William Priestley Drama

In 1837 Ann Sr battled her nephew William Priestley, the son of her sister Elizabeth and John Priestley over the terms of her sister Mary Walkers will. Ann Sr claimed that William, an executor of Mary’s will, hadn’t paid Ann Sr the interest due from the will. William Priestley wrote a letter to W Gray regarding this ‘misunderstanding’ and according to Anne Lister’s Diary, pressured Ann Sr to sign it and she did.

Cliff Hill, W. Halifax Sept 19th 1837

I am authorized by Mrs Ann Walker to acquaint you, that, the misunderstanding respecting the interest is amicably settled, and to her entire satisfaction and, that she desires to revoke any instructions that may have been given relating to this business - and in corroboration of her wishes, she adds her name to this letter.
I am Sirs Yours very respectfully
(signed) W Priestley
              Ann Walker
J & W Gray Esq York
P.S. Mrs Ann Walker begs that my letters may be returned to her through me with her letters and such instructions as you may have received relating to this affair: they may be forwarded to me by Adkins Coach on Wednesday from the Falcon Micklegate
(signed) W Priestley
              Ann Walker 17
(CN:99/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Anne Lister’s diary gives us more details about the family strife surrounding this letter. 

Anne Lister’s Diary 19 September 1837

“A- came to tell me about Mr. W. Priestley’s having arrived at Cliff Hill just after she came away, asked for a bed there and staid all night, and got Mrs. AW- to sign a revocation of the instructions she had sent to Messrs. G- and an order to return all the letters that had passed on the subject (Mr. WP-‘s into the bargain) to her thro’ him!”18
(SH:7/ML/E/20/0129 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Anne Lister’s Diary 20 September 1837
“A- returned very soon after 6 – and we sat talking till 7 – she sent off tonight her letter to Mr. Gray signed by Mrs. AW. desiring Mr. Watson to come over – to be at Cliff Hill at 10 am on Friday per chaise from Leeds – Mrs. AW. much vexed at what she had done – thought Mr. WP. had behaved very shabbily to give her no time for consideration – but he would not let her leave him that night till she had signed the paper which he had brought ready written! poor Mrs. AW. wished she had sent for A.” 19 
(SH:7/ML/E/20/0130 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)  

Anne Lister’s Diary 22 September 1837
A- returned at 6 ½ - came in at 6 40 and sat with her till 7 Mr Watson had arrived at ten and a half in a gig alone and off back again about at three all being done as I had suggested to Ann   the codicil made cutting Mr WP and taking into account Walker P's debt   and Watson took away with him all the three wills and codicil and all   All had gone off at Cliff hill much to the satisfaction of Mrs A.W. and A-  the former admirably ready and knowing what she was about Clear headed and sound of memory as A- or I could have been - her disapprobation of W.P-’s conduct strongly marked"20
(SH:7/ML/E/20/0131 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Here’s the language of Ann Sr’s Codicil that relates to William Priestley, as she effectively cuts him out of her will.

This Codicil was written 22 September 1837

“Whereas I have repeatedly applied to my Nephew William Priestley to pay me the arrears of Interest due to me from him as Executor of my late Sister Mary Walker and I have at his urgent request waived my claim to such arrears and in doing so it was my Intention to revoke the Legacy of One thousand pounds which I have given to him by my said Will 21

Ten years were to pass between this Codicil’s writing and Ann Sr’s death. At this time, it’s unknown if William paid his aunt so he could lawfully receive her legacy to him.


Clearly Ann Sr’s health declined over the years and her niece Ann loyally visited almost daily and stayed overnight when necessary.

Anne Lister’s Diary 16 December 1838

6 minutes with Mrs Ann Walker at Cliff hill – quite long enough – the 1st time of her being downstairs since her illness – looks pale, and shrunk, and very feeble – talked apparently with effort but all the time of who was at church and who not..” Anne Lister further reports, in this entry, that Ann Walker wrote to her sister Elizabeth that if anything happened to her Aunt, they needn’t come on her account, that she could do all that was required.22
(SH:7/ML/E/22/0082 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Then in 1839, Anne Lister describes a health event concerning Ann Sr.

Anne Lister’s Diary 22 January 1839

John footman at the stable door ready to mount – asked if we had seen John from Cliff hill, who had been here to say, they thought Mrs. Walker was dying and he was gone for Mr. Jubb!!!... Mr. J- however said she had had a slight paralytic seizure, and he had ordered leeches under the ear (left side) and would see her at 8 ½ a.m. tomorrow - he said her state was precarious but had no doubt the leeches would relieve her, and that she would pass a comfortable night – he thought her a little excited and for of alarming her, of letting her think herself worse than she might otherwise think herself he thought A- had better not stay all night but go early in the morning 23
(SH:7/ML/E/22/0105 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Ann Sr’s health did improve between March and June 1839, enough so that her niece Ann Walker felt comfortable enough to travel.

Anne Lister’s Diary 10 March 1839

“25 minutes at Cliff hill – Mrs. AW. seeming much better than for some time past – really very well – home at 5” 24
(SH:7/ML/E/22/0137 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

We know that Ann Sr lived until 1847. Though we don’t know the quality of her life, we can assume by her inheritances that she had the means to live well. She will have known of Anne Lister’s death, seen her niece Ann return from Russia alone, know of her niece Elizabeth’s death and of Ann Walker being declared of unsound mind.


Ann Sr died 29th October, 1847 at her home at the age of 90 years. The cause of death was listed as old age. She was buried within St. Matthews Church.

General Register Office ©Crown Copyright License: Open Government License
Halifax Guardian 4th November 1847 ©The British Library Board

Last Will & Testament

Ann Sr’s will, written on 16 November 1835, probate granted 15th December 1847. She left nephews William Priestley, John Priestley and Walker Priestley £1,000 each. (Both William & his brother Walker Priestley were mentioned in the Codicil revoking their legacies if they didn’t pay their debts to Ann Sr.) Elizabeth Sutherland and Ann Walker were bequeathed £1,200 each. Her niece Mary, wife of William Henry Rawson was to receive, during her lifetime, dividends, interest and profits from the trust, for her sole use and may not nor shall be subject or liable to the power control Debts Assignments Engagements or Intermeddling of the said William Henry Rawson25

Ann Sr left the properties of Cross Platts, Mill Closes Lands, Cross Land Ends and Closes of Land to her niece Ann Walker for her lifetime; these properties would then pass to Ann’s “Heirs and Assigns”. In addition, Ann was bequeathed all of Ann Sr’s household furniture, beds, plate, linen and china at Cliff Hill.

We learn in this will that George Sackville Sutherland (Elizabeth’s eldest son) was Ann Sr’s godson. As the Sutherlands’ oldest son, her estate would eventually go to him, after niece Ann’s lifetime. However, with the deaths of George Sackville and John Walker Sutherland it was the Sutherland’s son Evan Charles who would inherit the estate.

It is not known yet if William & Walker Priestley paid Ann Sr or her estate and were able to collect their legacies.


Ann Sr appeared to have been a strong-willed woman. Her will and Codicil are the only primary sources found so far that reflect her feelings regarding her family. From Anne Lister’s diary, Ann Walker’s journal and letters between the Walker sisters, we see that she could be difficult at times. In the end she left her niece Ann Walker much of her estate, for life, after threatening not to.

** Research for this blog is ongoing and will be updated as more facts are discovered.


1. Walker family history – Friends of Lightcliffe Churchyard

2. William Walker’s Will, (Father) (CN:98/16 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

3. CPI Inflation Calculator used in conversion

4. William Walker’s Will (Brother) (CN:89/17 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

5. Mary Walker’ s Last Will and Testament Borthwick Institute for ArchivesBIA20213434_RP_Walker_Mary_Cliff_Hill_Nov_1823

6. John Walker Sr Will (CN:89/19 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

7. CPI Inflation Calculator used in conversion

8. Opinion on Ann Walker Sr claim against John Walker Jr’s estate 1 February, 1831 (CN:100/2 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

9. Letter from Robert Parker to George M Sutherland re Ann Sr’s bond by Mrs Fanny Walker 1 August 1831 (CN:100/2 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

10. Ann Walker’s Journal – 1 July, 1834, (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/0013 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Transcription by: Alexa Tansley, Diane Halford, Leila Straub, Ivana Nika, and Dorjana Širola on behalf of In Search Of Ann Walker

11. Anne Lister’s Diary – 8 September, 1834 (SH:7/ML/E/17/0082 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Anne Lister Transcription by Frankie Raia &

12. Ann Walker letter to Elizabeth Sutherland 15 October, 1834 (CN:103/4/29 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Transcription by Leila Straub – Twitter -@LeilaMarcia

13. Anne Lister’s diary – 3 July, 1839 (SH:7/E/23/0075 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Anne Lister Transcription by Frankie Raia &

14. Ann Walker letter to Elizabeth Sutherland 5 May, 1835 (CN:103/4/46 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Transcription by Leila Straub – Twitter -@LeilaMarcia

15. Elizabeth Sutherland letter to Ann Walker 19 May, 1835 (CN:103/4 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Transcription by Leila Straub – Twitter -@LeilaMarcia

16. 1841 England Census – – a paid service
Source citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 1301; Book: 5; Civil Parish: Halifax; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: 5; Folio: 44; Page: 21; Line: 18; GSU roll: 464261

17. Letter from William Priestley & Ann Walker to William Gray 19 September 1837 (CN:99/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

18. Anne Lister’s Diary 19 September 1837 (SH:7/ML/E/22/0129 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Anne Lister Transcription by Frankie Raia &

19. Anne Lister’s Diary 20 September 1837 (SH:7/ML/E/20/0130 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Anne Lister Transcription by Frankie Raia &

20. Anne Lister’s Diary 22 September 1837 (SH:7/ML/E/20/0131 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale) Anne Lister Transcription by Martin Walker-Twitter-@ListeriaUK

21. Ann Walker’s Last Will and Testament Borthwick Institute for Archives BIA20213143_RP_Walker_Ann_Cliff_Hill_Halifax_Dec_1847

22. Anne Lister’s Diary 16 December 1838 (SH:7/ML/E/22/0082 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Transcribed by Kerstin Holzgraebe

23. Anne Lister’s Diary 22 January 1839 (SH:7/ML/E/22/0105 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Anne Lister Transcription by Frankie Raia
https://whatdoesshedotothem.tumblr &

24. Anne Lister’s Diary 10 March 1839 (SH:7/ML/E/22/0137 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Anne Lister Transcription by Frankie Raia
https://whatdoesshedotothem.tumblr &

25. Ann Walker’s Last Will and Testament Borthwick Institute for Archives BIA20213143_RP_Walker_Ann_Cliff_Hill_Halifax_Dec_1847

Other Sources

General Register Office (GRO)

The British Newspaper Archive – a paid service

Special Thanks

Louise Godley – Editing

Diane Halford – Archival Research

Caroline Maillard – Editing

Leila Straub – Transcription

Martin Walker – Transcription

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:
Deb Woolson (2022) “(Aunt) Ann Walker”: In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]

Deb Woolson

I'm semi-retired and live in the US. Between researching for ISAW and dabbling in politics, my time is well spent. I watched GJ S1 and was overwhelmed by the beauty of Yorkshire and the amazing story of these two women. (Months later I learned my ancestors came from Yorkshire!) I have such admiration for Ann Walker and am honored to work with the talented ISAW team to bring her story to the forefront.