Ann’s People

Catherine Worsley née Rawson (1803-1885) : a short biography

By Ivana Nika
Twitter: @Ivana_Nika

Wasdale Hall, Cumberland, the seat of Stansfeld Rawson, Esq.
engraved by H. Wallis, drawn by T. Allom, coloured 1835.
No known copyright restrictions

Catherine Rawson and Ann Walker spent three weeks in each other’s company in September 1832. Their families were related but we don’t know when exactly they became friends; their joint trip to the Lake District is the only one we know of so far. Catherine’s father, Stansfeld Rawson, had in 1829 begun building Wasdale Hall, his residence in the isolated neighbourhood of Wastwater lake in the heart of today’s Lake District National Park. The two young women may have gone there to distract themselves from the sometimes monotonous lives they led at home. They were both 29 at the time.


This engraving of Wasdale Hall was coloured in 1835, but the original monochrome sketch by Thomas Allom was made before 1832, when the book in which it is included1 was published. Allom is known to have visited the Lake District in the span of 1830 to 1835 and drawn his sketches on the spot.2 When he visited Wasdale Hall, he might have used real people in front of the house as subjects, and it is easy to assume that these three characters could have been Catherine, her sister Delia, and their brother Charles. The year in which the book was published, 1832, was also the year of Ann Walker’s visit to Wasdale Hall, but it is improbable that the sketch (that could have included her) could have been drawn in September and ready for the book to be published that year. However, the romantic setting of the persons in the then “wild and picturesque” landscape evokes the same effect of imagining Ann’s and Catherine’s visit.


Note: Catherine’s name appears as Catharine on her baptism record; in the newspapers it is commonly spelled as Katherine or Katharine. However, on her marriage certificate, and the will she signed just a few weeks before she died, she uses Catherine. I have chosen to use this last spelling.

Early years

Catherine Rawson was born on 3rd April 1803, and baptised in St John the Baptist church (today’s Halifax Minster) on 29th September of the same year. She was the eldest of the seven children of Elizabeth and Stansfeld, from the respected and well-established Rawson family, who started out as textile merchants just a century earlier and quickly grew into a banking family that produced local magistrates and patrons of culture. The Rawsons were one of a few large families that dominated the then small town of Halifax in the 18th and 19th centuries, and connected other prosperous men (and women) into their network of business and family ties. It is not surprising that Ann Walker’s family, new to this rank of life, looked at these connections with approval. When Stansfeld’s brother, William Henry Rawson, married Mary Priestley in 1806, the Walker family found themselves related to the Rawsons. Perhaps this event made possible Catherine’s and Ann’s long-lasting friendship.

The family connection between Catherine Rawson and Ann Walker can be seen in the Rawson-Walker genealogy tree, kindly provided by Martin Walker, here:

Hover over or click on the image for a zoom window to appear

We can see in this family tree that Stansfeld named four of his children after his sisters, three of whom died young (Catherine aged 13 died in 1803, Mary Ann aged 19 in 1804 and Delia aged 19 in 1813).

From Anne Lister’s diaries we find out a lot about private and business affairs of the Rawsons, sometimes in great detail. Catherine’s grandmother, Mrs Rawson of Stoney Royd, drank many a cup of tea with Anne, spilling more than just a few family secrets over the years! Anne knew all of her children, and with some of them engaged in confidential talks and sometimes open confrontations. Grace, Ellen and Emma married into the Waterhouse, Empson and Saltmarshe families respectively and are very much present in Anne’s diaries, together with their brother Thomas, something of a partying man. Anne was a regular customer at Rawsons’ Bank in Halifax and had known Christopher, Jeremiah and Stansfeld since her younger days. The other Rawsons, somewhat older than she was, she would visit in their homes, enjoying social visits she deemed appropriate to her own social status.

It is not clear where Catherine and her siblings spent their childhood years. The Rawsons owned a number of small estates and houses that changed hands within the family, especially after marriages. Stansfeld and Elizabeth lived at Ovenden Hall in Halifax for a year after getting married in 1802.3 It is often assumed that immediately after that they lived at Gledholt in nearby Huddersfield, but records of who owned/occupied the house in the period 1804-1830 list the Haigh and Allen families, and not the Rawsons.4

Stansfeld Rawson, Catherine’s father, c. 1856
©West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale

Stansfeld Rawson joined the family banking business and ran its Huddersfield branch for years. It is safe to assume that Catherine had a comfortable childhood surrounded by numerous family members and with opportunities reserved for members of better-standing families.

Savile Green, Halifax

From Anne Lister’s diaries we know that from 1818 Stansfeld and his family lived at Savile Green in Halifax. It is then that Anne Lister starts mentioning and visiting them, which suggests that perhaps before they did not live in Halifax. Stansfeld’s family resided in the same building where Stansfeld’s uncle William Rawson and his wife Elizabeth had lived since 1806; Anne Lister’s diaries confirm shared occupancy of this house by the two Rawson families.5

Savile Green as a name referred to a locality, not just one building. What was then known as Savile Green is today largely part of Savile Road in Halifax.6 The large house which the Rawson families shared survives today.

Rawsons’ Savile Green, today’s 23 Savile Road in Halifax
Image used with kind permission of Lesley Brown

“a pretty, a handsome, elegant looking girl”

Anne Lister on Catherine Rawson

There is a lot to learn about young Catherine and her personality from Anne Lister’s diaries. We find out about Catherine’s education; about the governess Miss Holmes she shared with her sisters, private lessons she conducted with Mr Knight, a local reverend, and of her interest in her studies, particularly classics. Of course, Anne’s view of Catherine is subjective.

2 September 1818 “Left Stony Royde about 10 minutes before 8 (by our clock) walked with Miss Rawson, really a very nice girl to the end of Harrison lane – Find she has read nothing of Homer but Anacreon and the philippics of Demosthenes – and in Latin chiefly Virgil and Horace. Can solve a simple equation, but has done nothing in Euclid. She is turning Willymot’s particles into English. I recommended her to read Tacitus’ life of Agricola” (SH:7/ML/E/2/0061, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

On 30 December 1818 Anne is present when Catherine, aged 15, takes a piano examination in Halifax. (SH:7/ML/E/2/0094, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

In March of 1819, Anne meets Catherine and her father while they’re all attending Mr Webster’s lecture on minerals, and is invited to visit them at their home that same afternoon. Anne enjoys looking at Stansfeld’s collection of things brought home from his Mediterranean travels.

That same evening …

31 March 1819 “Miss Rawson (Catherine) put on the costume of the island of Mycone, white, reaching only to the knees, as if to shew the red worsted stockings and slippers down at the heels of the ladies of this island – a curious sort of dress but in which Miss Rawson looked uncommonly well — she is a pretty, a handsome, elegant looking girl” (SH:7/ML/E/2/0128, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

In a conversation with Catherine’s mother, Anne offers to help Catherine with her classical studies.

14 April 1819 “[…] talked about her daughter Catharine’s education etc. said we should be happy to see them at Shibden, and promised to go again to their house, and, some time or other, to have a spell at Homer’s Iliad, as Miss Rawson had not begun it with Mr Knight, and was anxious to be able to get on with it by herself – She shewed me a clavis to Homer, published in octavo at Edinburgh 8 or 9 years ago, that must be all-sufficient to smooth every difficulty even to the veriest novice […]” (SH:7/ML/E/3/0006, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

On 4th November 1822 Stansfeld, his wife Elizabeth and Catherine visited Anne and her aunt and uncle at Shibden Hall. While aunt and uncle Lister showed the house to the Rawsons, Anne showed Catherine her journal and her extract books. (SH:7/ML/E/6/0065, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

There are many more references to Catherine and her family in Anne Lister’s diaries; for a fuller picture of Catherine’s early life as seen by Anne Lister, please read Anne Lister’s diaries available on the West Yorkshire Archive Service website.

Spring Grove, Huddersfield

At some time in 1824, Stansfeld moved his family again, to Spring Grove in Huddersfield, where they lived for a few years. Pigot and Co.’s “National Commercial Directory for 1828-9…”etc. lists Stansfeld Rawson at Spring Grove. Mrs William Rawson (of Savile Green) in her diary mentions going to Spring Grove for a visit on a couple of occasions, and in January 1826 writes “Took Miss Rawson home to Spring.” Miss Rawson refers to Catherine.

From Anne Lister’s diary:

15 December 1823 “At 11 10/60 set off down the old bank to Stonyroyde – Sat an hour with Mrs. Rawson – Mrs. Rawson looks ill – she has had frequent attacks of giddiness and sickness of late, and they have considerably reduced her strength – Mr. Stansfield Rawson going to live at Huddersfield, has taken Spring-grove, very near Huddersfield, at £350 per annum belonging to Mrs. or Mr. Fenton mother or brother to Mrs. Kenny – ” (SH:7/ML/E/7/0089, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

In 1795 Dorothy Wordsworth wrote a letter to Stansfeld’s sister Mary Anne Rawson addressed to Spring Grove, Huddersfield, showing that as early as then, the Rawson family might have been renting this house from a gentry family, the Fentons.7 Given this early connection of the house with the Rawsons, I think it is possible that for all or some of the 1803-1818 period (and hence Catherine’s childhood) Stansfeld’s family already lived there.

Spring Grove house was demolished in 1879 and Spring Grove School built in its place. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a photograph or a picture of the house.

Gledholt, Huddersfield

Gledholt, Huddersfield
Image used with kind permission of Julie Fisher

The family moved to nearby Gledholt in 1830 or 1831, which is when newspaper articles start to refer to Stansfeld Rawson as of Gledholt.8 This building survives today. Gledholt is of medieval origin, built in an L-shape and altered several times during the 18th and 19th centuries. It consists of 2 storeys, and incorporates a large garden space within the estate.9 It is evident from Anne Lister’s diaries that Ann Walker visited Catherine at Gledholt on a couple of occasions, such as before their trip to the Lake District in September 1832.

Excursion to the Lake District in 1832

In the summer of 1832, when Anne Lister was regularly visiting Ann at her home in Lidgate, she heard of Ann planning to take an excursion to Wasdale Hall with Catherine Rawson.

7 September 1832 “Incurred a cross last night thinking of Miss Walker – […] found Loudon’s gardener’s dictionary and nice civil kind note from Miss Walker – she goes on Monday with Miss (Catherine) Rawson – to sleep that night at Bowness, and the next (Tuesday) at Keswick and thus (she says) see 7 lakes before getting to Wastdale“ (SH:7/ML/E/15/0114, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

The enthusiasm to see the lakes in the Lake District suggests this was probably Ann’s first ever trip there.

Anne Lister had passed by the Rawsons’ cottage on 29th July 1824 while she was touring the Lake District with her aunt, but she didn’t see Wasdale Hall, built only several years later. Stansfeld had used the cottage as a holiday retreat for years, but then knocked it down in order to build Wasdale Hall in its place.10 Through the years he planted a large number of trees around the Hall and added a new south wing in 1839.

YHA Wasdale Hall
Image used with kind permission of Steve Read

Stansfeld’s Wasdale Hall survives today as a youth hostel, and preserves traces of him and his family’s long presence, such as the Rawsons’ coat of arms above the entrance door.


During their long talks about their future together (particularly during 1832), Ann and Anne would sometimes mention Catherine (e.g. in SH:7/ML/E/15/0128, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale).

In the following passage from Anne’s diary, we find out Catherine wanted to live with Ann, presumably as a friend. Due to the picture of Catherine’s character that we can sense from Anne Lister’s diaries, notwithstanding Lister’s possibly jealous suspicions stated in this particular passage, I conclude that Catherine’s idea of a life together with Ann Walker was not of a romantic nature.

11 October 1832 “she had casually said Catharine Rawson had often said she should like to live with her they had long ago talked of it but now and of late she had thought it would not answer and was getting off thought then my surmise was probably true when I fancied that Catharine’s classics might have taught her the trick of debauching Miss Walker yes Miss Walker has been taught by someone” (SH:7/ML/E/15/0131, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Catherine visits Ann in 1833

At the beginning of 1833 Ann Walker was going through a difficult period.

Unfortunately, we do not have an account of this period either from Ann Walker or from Catherine Rawson. I will focus only on a couple of passages from Anne Lister’s diary that throw some light on Catherine and her relationship with Ann and Anne during Catherine’s prolonged visit to Lidgate in January and February 1833.

Anne Lister visited Ann almost daily, often staying overnight, trying to make her feel better and keep to her daily routine. On 11th January, Catherine joined Ann at Lidgate for a few weeks, to try to cheer her friend up. She and Anne tried to engage Ann in all sorts of activities, such as reading aloud, going for walks, having positive conversations, and even studying botany.

These weeks proved to be difficult for Catherine as well as for Ann. Anne exhorted Catherine not to mention Ann’s state to any of her family.

20 January 1833 “Miss Rawson kept me this morning saying Miss Walker would be worse as soon as I was gone – we had a little tete a tete after breakfast and both spoke openly of Miss Walker’s being not herself I begging Miss Rawson not to name it at home but let it be all hushed up as much as possible” (SH:7/ML/E/16/0008, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Catherine admitted to Anne that Ann frightened her.

25 January 1833 “saw Miss Rawson for a little while alone in her room said I had written to hurry Captain S- [Sutherland] Miss Walker frightens her(SH:7/ML/E/16/0011, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Catherine agreed to Anne’s plan that Ann should be sent to Scotland to stay with her sister’s family.

At this time, Catherine and Anne Lister renewed their friendship, which had been shaken by gossip spread about Anne in Halifax. (SH:7/ML/E/16/0013, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Catherine lent Anne Sir Humphry Davy’s “Consolations in Travelling” (SH:7/ML/E/16/0011, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale) and Anne gifted Catherine a seal with an inspirational motto attached. (SH:7/ML/E/16/0014, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Ann and Catherine’s encounters in the 1830s

There is no mention of Catherine Rawson in Ann Walker’s journal. Ann didn’t exchange any letters with her friend while she was travelling through France and Switzerland in the summer of 1834.

During Ann Walker’s years at Shibden Hall, it is evident (from Anne Lister’s diaries) that Ann and Catherine kept up their correspondence and visited each other. Catherine visited Ann two months after she had moved to Shibden. Unfortunately, we do not know what she said or thought about Ann’s decision to live with Anne.

12 November 1834 Miss Rawson of Gledholt called at 12 55/.. – sat downstairs with her and A- [Adney] till they had had luncheon […] Miss R- off at 2 55/.. – well pleased with her reception” (SH:7/ML/E/17/0107, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

Ann visited Catherine at Gledholt on March 18th, 1835:

“[…] came in at 5 50/.. A- had been returned about 20 minutes from Huddersfield – had called on the Atkinsons and Stansfield Rawsons – the former quiet and appeared to advantage Mrs. Stansfield Rawson very well at 1st and queer and vulgar and impertinent at last tho’ probably without knowing or intending to be so – Catherine Rawson behaved very well – […]” (SH:7/ML/E/17/0183, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

On 20th June 1839, Anne and Ann left Shibden Hall for their long European travels. Ann did not manage to see Catherine prior to leaving Halifax, and we so far have no evidence that they met after Ann returned alone in February of 1841. It would be sad to think that these were their last interactions.

27 March 1839 A- [Adney] came to me at 7 40/.. for 1/2 hour – low and out of sorts does not like Miss Rawson to come and see her in this way poor thing she is all good I must get her off as soon as I possibly can it is high time” (SH:7/ML/E/23/0009, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)

14 June 1839 “A- [Adney] sent George off about 2 with note to Miss Rawson Gledholt near Huddersfield to say we should be glad to see her tomorrow for an hour or 2 – she said in her note A- received yesterday afternoon she wished much to come before we left home – […] then packed my imperial and then till 12 1/2 packed A-’s – she had note in answer from Miss Rawson – poorly – cannot come tomorrow – much pleased at A-’s sending over” (SH:7/ML/E/23/0065, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)


Catherine and Thomas’s Marriage Certificate ©West Yorkshire Archive Service Accessed:

Catherine Rawson married Thomas Worsley on 20th June 1842 and moved to Cambridge. She would spend the next 43 years living with her husband at the Master’s Lodge at Downing College, Cambridge (as census records of 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881 show). Downing College was founded in 1800; the Master’s Lodge built in 1811 and before the Worsleys had been home to only one previous Master and his family.

Master’s Lodge at Downing College, Cambridge
Image used with kind permission of Downing College, Cambridge

From Anne Lister’s diaries, we learn that fate might have taken a different turn for Catherine, twenty years earlier:

26 August 1821 “Ellen seemed very kind and offered to take me with her to York in a fortnight she told me as a very great secret, that Mr. Philip Saltmarshe was struck with young Catherine Rawson and it would be a match if Papa and Mama would consent – strange enough” (SH:7/ML/E/5/0057, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)


Thomas and Catherine had no children.

Within the first year of marriage, Catherine suffered a miscarriage. In April 1843 Thomas Worsley wrote to his friend Julius Hare:

“… we have already been visited by the first real sorrow I have had to undergo for many years. My poor Katherine after ten days’ confinement to her room is now but slowly recovering from a … miscarriage.”11

Thomas’s Cambridge colleague, Joseph Romilly, records in his diary entry for 8 April 1843: “Mrs Worsley miscarried.”12

The following year, on 18 July 1844, Catherine suffered a stillbirth:

“In the next year there was a second disappointment, Romilly recording on 18 July 1844 that Mrs Worsley had had a still-born child. This was entered in the register of St Bene’t’s church, and a small stone marked “K.W.” was till recently to be seen near the entrance. And the Worsley marriage remained childless. Worsley wrote to Hare his reaction: “You know in part at least my own fondness of children, and how very dear such a hope must have been to me; and … to her it was if possible still dearer.” from “Dr Worsley of Trinity and Downing: 1” by P. J. Barnwell, 1980, p.56

Thomas Worsley

Thomas Worsley, born 15 July 1797 at Stonegrave, Yorkshire, belonged to the Worsley family of Hovingham Hall in Yorkshire, who can trace their ancestry to Oliver Cromwell. He grew up at his father’s Rectory house of Stonegrave, close by Hovingham, on the edge of the North Riding Moorlands. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, excelling in mathematical and classical studies.

Thomas Worsley was ordained as a priest in 1825 and appointed Rector of Scawton in Yorkshire in 1826; title he held until 1881. He was elected to a Fellowship at Downing College in 1824, and in 1836 became the third Master of Downing College, the position he held for the next forty-nine years. We know that he travelled to Italy as a young man and acquired a taste for the Italian Masters, becoming a distinguished amateur painter. He was described equally as a man of sports and of culture, but opted for a life of scholarship and Bible study. In 1837, he was elected Vice-Chancellor of the University.

From 1844 to 1850 he held the position of the University’s Christian Advocate. The lectures he gave as Advocate were published as “The Province of the Intellect in Religion, deduced from Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount.” In 1858 he became Doctor of Divinity at Cambridge University.

Thomas Worsley (1797-1885), Fellow (1824),
Master of Downing College (1836-1885)
by George Richmond, painting, oil on canvas, c.1868-1869
©The Master, Fellows, and Scholars of Downing College
in the University of Cambridge

Catherine hosts Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Cambridge from 5th to 7th July 1847, to attend the ceremony of the installation of Prince Albert as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. The public events included an address by the Prince, a concert, firework display, horticultural fête, banquet and public breakfast.13

On Tuesday, 6th July, in the grounds of Downing College, a horticultural fête was organised as part of the celebrations. It was reported in the newspapers that the crowds were huge and many broke in without tickets. Queen Victoria was present and took refreshment at the Master’s Lodge of Downing College, greeted by the Worsleys.

Yes, Catherine hosted the Queen in her home!

“… After remaining in the grounds about three-quarters of an hour, and accepting a beautiful bouquet from Mrs Ashton, her Majesty, Prince Albert, and the whole of their suite withdrew into the house of the Master of Downing College, where they partook of refreshment, and the Queen was pleased to express her gratification at what she had seen. Sir R. Peel, Lord J. Russell, and many other persons remained conversing beneath the portico of the Master’s house, whilst the Queen was engaged inside. Shortly after the Queen left they also departed.“ Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, Saturday 10 July 1847

The Roman Martyr

Catherine and Thomas together published The Roman Martyr: A Youthful Essay in Dramatic Verse in 1859. This dramatic work was published anonymously, signedby Nominis Umbra” (lat. “the shadow of a name”) as the author, with added translations “belonging chiefly to the same period” by the editor. This suggests that the author is Catherine herself while her husband is the editor and translator of the poems accompanying the play.

The dual authorship of the book is most vividly seen in the foreword in which the Editor praises the Author. This dedication of Thomas to his wife can be read as a love poem.


					The Editor to the Author.

					Gentle Heiress of a Name
					Known in arms and song to fame
					Fear from me no critic blame.

					Bathed once more by thy revealing
					In the stream of youthful feeling
					I too learn its magic healing.

					Thanks! And may thy later sorrow
					Balm from these sweet memories borrow
					Breathed o'er many a happy morrow.

The Notice at the beginning of the book stating that “The following Dramatic Essay was written before the year 1830” implies that Catherine wrote it before she turned 27 years of age.

The play depicts dramatic moments in the lives of several Romans during the persecutions of the Christians in the reign of Diocletian, A. D. 303. The main character, a young Roman woman named Egeria, converts to Christianity, but tragically dies for her faith. The play shows Catherine’s strong affinity towards Christian values in life, but also the evidently strong impression that the Classical studies of her youth made on her. The affinity for the Classics was no doubt one of the things she had in common with her husband.


circa 1860: Dr and Mrs Worsley relax in the drawing room of their home in Downing College, Cambridge. (Photo by Otto Herschan Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images);

This photograph shows the Worsleys in their drawing room of Master’s Lodge at Downing College where they lived for over forty years. The importance of art, literature and education can be sensed from the decoration of the room, where each of the objects fulfills its purpose. Thomas was a landscape painter throughout his life, Catherine played the piano; surrounded by books and statues, they engaged in conversation about classical literature and religion.

Catherine is wearing black in the photograph because she is in mourning, her brother Francis William having died in August of the previous year.

This extract from a student’s letter14 tells us a bit more about the Worsleys’ drawing room, and contains a funny account of Worsleys’ hospitality.

“[…] I had to be at a very different kind of affair the next evening. This what we call a “perpendicular” – Sometimes, when the Master of the college has a dinner party, he invites two of [or] three undergrads afterwards – such a great compliment!! Dr Worsley has had 5 such affairs this week – I was one of the victims for Tuesday. I went about quarter to Ten. and stopped for threequarters of an hour. You have to stand up the whole time and do nothing, for you are not introduced to anyone; whence comes the name. The only refreshment I got was a cup of tea and, as I was saying good-bye an offer of a “glass of wine and water”, which I didn’t take. – “declined with thanks.” – The Drawing room in the master’s lodge is a good room about 25’x18” with two windows looking on the grounds. Very severe cornice: ditto fireplace, – ditto window-cornice, ditto sideboard, likewise picture frames. The pictures are a series of watercolours of Dr Worsleys own painting – They are very fine, most splendid air and distance effects. When I heard whose they were, I thought I would go up to Dr W. and admire them and ask if any of them were Turner’s – but on reflecting that I might in that case be asked again I concluded I would not. […]” Extract from letter from Isambard Owen home from Downing College, 4 December 1868 (transcription credits Ivana Nika)

Sundial at Galesyke

Galesyke House
Image used with kind permission of the McKinley family

Another estate close to Wasdale Hall that was owned by the Rawson family was nearby Galesyke. It was bought in 1839 by Stansfeld and passed to his son Charles, who had the lovely stone house built, with a slate roof and servant quarters. The Rawsons would gather here for years, the house being the home first of Charles Stansfeld and his wife Octavia, later of Catherine’s sister Emma Sarah and her husband Matthew Rhodes, and lastly of their mother Elizabeth who is known to have lived here until she died in 1866.



“In the gardens fronting the house at Gale Syke, Wastwater, is a horizontal dial thus inscribed. It was erected about 1852-3, and presented to the then owner of the place, Stansfield Rawson, Esq., by one of his daughters. It was said to have been designed by Mr Rawson’s son-in-law, the Rev. Dr. Worsley, late master of Downing College, Cambridge.” from the Book of Sun-dials by Mrs Alfred Gatty, 1900.

Catherine and Thomas visited Galesyke, and it seems, Thomas designed the sundial which still stands in the garden of the house. I am very grateful to Mike McKinley and his family, the current owners of Galesyke house, for sharing the photographs of the house and of the sundial, along with information about the history of the place.

Sundial at Galesyke
Image used with kind permission of the McKinley family

It was probably hard for Catherine and Thomas that Wasdale Hall had to be sold after Charles died in 1863, because of the debts he got into. A few years after Catherine’s mother Elizabeth died in 1866 at Galesyke, the family sold Galesyke too.

Later years

There are a few mentions of Mrs Worsley in the local newspapers in the 1860s and 1870s. She was patron of events for the benefit of the local hospital on several occasions, as well as organising a charity bazaar and numerous concerts.

“Master of Downing College and Mrs Worsley” appear regularly in the newspapers through their later years as patrons of the annual grand promenade musicale held in the grounds of Downing College each May.

Deaths of Thomas and Catherine

Thomas Worsley’s Death Certificate
©General Register Office, ©2021 Crown Copyright

Thomas died on 16th February 1885, at the age of 87. The cause of death is stated as “Heart disease” and “Bronchitis”.

Katharine (!) Worsley’s Death Certificate
©General Register Office, ©2021 Crown Copyright

Catherine died on 6th March 1885.

The death certificate gives an incorrect age for Catherine. She was 81. The cause of death is stated as “Old age” and “Bronchitis 14 days”.

Yorkshire Evening Press – Saturday 07 March 1885
©The British Library Board

They are both buried in the Worsley Mausoleum in the churchyard of All Saints Church in the village of Hovingham in Yorkshire.

Worsley Mausoleum, Hovingham
Image used with kind permission of Geoff Brandwood

The Yorkshire Gazette of 21st February 1885 published a long sympatethic obituary for Dr Worsley, and Mrs Worsley is remembered with these words:

“… The tender devotion of the wife was the brightness of the Master’s life, and her sweet and gracious presence lent a rare charm to the hospitality of Downing Lodge. She died a few days after the Master, in 1885. Professor Hort wrote: “Mrs Worsley had no desire to live after her husband; and God has mercifully spared her that forlorn misery. She passed away in sleep. You will always remember the beautiful dignity of her face. It is a real possession for life to have had such a vision. She was a most devoted wife.”” from “Downing College” by H. W. Pettit Stevens, London, F.E. Robinson, 1899, pp. 102-103


Thomas’s will, signed on March 19th in 1884, appointed his wife as the sole executrix and granted all his estate and effects to her, and after her death to the persons she appoints in her will.

The gross value of his personal estate was £3,342.11.0 at the time of his death.

£3,342 in 1885 is worth approximately £440,517.73 in 2021.15

Catherine’s will, signed on February 18th in 1885, appoints Sir William Worsley (1828-1897), the 2nd Baronet of Hovingham Hall (Thomas’s nephew), and his wife Harriette Philadelphia Worsley (1828-1893) as executors of her will. She distributed some of the money amongst her nieces and nephews, as well as the five young daughters of her prematurely deceased niece Anna Sophia Lamb (1841-1881), the daughter of Catherine’s sister Mary Anne Hutchinson.

The gross value of her personal estate was £9,537.3.2 at the time of her death.

£9,537 in 1885 is worth approximately £1,257,096.83 in 2021.16


Downing College, Cambridge and Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire preserve Thomas’s and Catherine’s legacy today.

Downing College, Cambridge holds a small collection of books relating to Thomas Worsley, although the provenance of many is unclear and only a handful can be linked directly to the personal collection of Dr Worsley and his wife. In addition, the College Archive holds a collection of personal papers of Thomas Worsley which consists of his manuscripts on theology, publications and correspondence as Master.17 The College also holds several watercolour paintings by Dr Worsley which were given to the College after his death by the Worsley family.

The pamphlet inscribed with Katharine (!) Worsley’s name on its front page appears to be the only item in the College’s collection directly relating to her. It is bound with six other pamphlets, but is the only one inscribed and it is uncertain whether they were all bound together during the Worsleys’ lifetime or afterwards. The pencilled number was probably added later at the time of cataloguing.

Katharine (!) Worsley’s signature
©Downing College Special Collections, Worsley 65/ (2)

It is not known when exactly Mrs Worsley wrote her name in the pamphlet of the sermon given on August 7th 1840 at Lambeth Palace in London, which she probably attended. At that time Catherine was still Miss Rawson, so she must have signed it at a later point in her life, after she had become Mrs Worsley.

Most of the books and the art collection, as well as other private possessions from the Master’s Lodge at Downing College, have probably ended up at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire.


William Worsley (1792-1879), Thomas’s brother, was created the 1st Baronet Worsley of Hovingham Hall, in 1838. Hovingham Hall is today the home of the 6th Baronet, Sir William Worsley (born 1956) and his family.

Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley (born 1933), the youngest child of the 4th Baronet William Worsley (1890-1973), married Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1st cousin to Queen Elizabeth II), in 1961, thereby becoming the Duchess of Kent.

Since 1986 HRH Duchess of Kent is the Patron of Downing College, Cambridge.



1 “Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, & Northumberland, Illustrated. From original drawings by Thomas Allom, George Pickering…” etc., page 194.

2 “Thomas Allom (1804-1872)” by Diana Brooks, pages 30-33.

3 “The Rawson Family” by Arthur Porritt, 1966, p. 5.

4 “Studies in Local Topography V: Gledholt Hall” by Philip Ahier, 1935, p. 220-225.

5 References in Anne Lister’s diaries for the joint tenancy of Mr William Rawson’s and Mr Stansfeld Rawson’s families at Savile Green in Halifax include SH:7/ML/E/4/0125, SH:7/ML/E/5/0128, SH:7/ML/E/3/0093, SH:7/ML/E/4/0084 etc., respectively.

6 “Mrs William Rawson and her Diary” by John Wilson, 1958.

7 Dorothy Wordsworth’s letter to Mary Anne Rawson, 15 August 1795, from “The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth”, ed. by Alan G. Hill, pages 1-2.

8 Newspaper articles refer to Stansfeld Rawson “of Gledholt” only after 1830 (e.g. 7 July 1831, Leeds Intelligencer). Anne Lister refers to Miss Rawson “of Gledholt, Huddersfield” only after 1830. Ahier’s book on Gledholt Hall leaves a gap in tenancy from 1830 to 1848 due to the tenants not being named in the Archives of Huddersfield Corporation.

9 “Gledholt”,

10 More about Stansfeld’s occupation with his Lake District properties can be read in the article “Wasdale Hall” by Janet D. Martin.

11 Quoted in Barnwell (1980 : p. 56). This article makes use of a collection of private letters to and from Dr Worsley and Mrs Worsley kept at Hovingham Hall, which the then owner of the Hall, Sir Marcus Worsley, made available to Barnwell.

12 Quoted in Barnwell (1980 : p. 56).

13 “The Installation of Prince Albert at Cambridge” by Ian Pittock,

14 “Letters written home while a student at Downing College, 1868-1871” by Isambard Owen, available by order from

15 U.K. Inflation Calculator,

16 U.K. Inflation Calculator,

17 Thomas Worsley papers, 1825 – 1927, available by order from


I am grateful to many people who have contributed to this article. However, any mistakes belong solely to me. If you need to contact me, please use my email address:

My biggest thanks go to Jenny Ulph, College Archivist at Downing College, Cambridge for helping me fill the gaps on Thomas Worsley’s life and work. The only existing photograph of Thomas and Catherine shaped my view of them and their life together. Thank you.

Thanks to West Yorkshire Archive Service and Local Studies Libraries, at Calderdale and Kirklees, for assisting me kindly with all my queries.

I am grateful to David Pattern and David Griffiths for information shared via email about parts of Huddersfield history.

I am grateful to everyone who allowed the use of their photographs in this article: Lesley Brown, Julie Fisher, Steve Read, the McKinley family, Geoff Brandwood, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Downing College Archive.

Credits for transcriptions of all entries from Anne Lister’s diaries used in the article belong to my wife, Dorjana Širola.

Thanks to the following people for their support and assistance with this research: Dorjana Širola, Diane Halford, Martin Walker, Leila Straub, Deb Woolson, Ashleigh Kobevko.


1) Ancestry,

2) Findmypast,

3) Find A Grave,

4) Familysearch,

5) General Register Office (GRO),

6) UK Probate search,

7) The British Newspaper Archive,

The Diaries of Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, are available on West Yorkshire Archive Service website:

“The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister”, edited by Helena Whitbread, London: Virago, 2010.

“Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister” by Anne Choma, London: BBC Books, 2019.

“Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, & Northumberland, Illustrated. From original drawings by Thomas Allom, George Pickering, &c. with descriptions by T. Rose. Fisher, Son, & co. London, 1832”, page 194, available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Thomas Allom (1804-1872)” by Diana Brooks, London: British Architectural Library, RIBA, 1998.

“The Rawson Family”, by Arthur Porritt, 1966., available by order from (paid service)

“The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth”, ed. by Alan G. Hill, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967., available at (requires creating an account and borrowing the book, free service)

“Gledholt”, Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Studies in Local Topography V: Gledholt Hall” by Philip Ahier, Advertiser Press Limited, Huddersfield, 1935. Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Historical Directories of England and Wales”, available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Mrs William Rawson and her Diary” by John Wilson, 1958, available by order from (paid service)

Downing College Cambridge, Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Worsley, Thomas (1711–1778)” by Giles Worsley, available at (requires subscription or sign in via library card for UK residents) Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Downing College” by H. W. Pettit Stevens, London, F.E. Robinson, 1899. (pp. 90-103), available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

“The History of Downing College Cambridge” by Stanley French, Downing College Association, 1978., (pp. 119-130), available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Dr Worsley of Trinity and Downing: I” by P. J. Barnwell, Cambridge: The Magazine of the Cambridge Society, Nr. 6, 1980, pp. 47-57, available by order from Downing College Archive

“Dr Worsley of Trinity and Downing: II” by P. J. Barnwell, Cambridge: The Magazine of the Cambridge Society, Nr. 7, 1980, pp. 62-70, available by order from Downing College Archive

“Thomas Worsley (1797-1885), Fellow (1824), Master of Downing College (1836-1885)” by George Richmond, painting, oil on canvas, c.1868-1869, with permission from Downing College

“The Installation of Prince Albert at Cambridge” by Ian Pittock, available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

“The Roman Martyr: A Youthful Essay in Dramatic Verse” by Worsley, Catherine Rawson. London ; Edinburgh : Williams and Norgate, 1859., available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

“College Life, circa 1860”. Otto Herschan Collection / Hulton Archive / Getty Images from Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Letters written home while a student at Downing College, 1868-1871” by Isambard Owen, available by order from Retrieved 1 September 2021

Thomas Worsley papers, 1825 – 1927, available by order from Retrieved 1 September 2021

“Wasdale Hall” by Janet D. Martin (pp. 269-282), Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society (1993) Series: 2, Volume 93. available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

YHA Wasdale Hall, Retrieved 1 July 2021

“The Book of Sun-dials. By Mrs. Alfred Gatty (Margaret Scott Gatty), 1809-1873. Enlarged and re-edited by Horatia K. F. Gatty Eden, 1846-1945. and Eleanor Lloyd”. London: George Bell & Sons, 1900. Fourth edition., available at Retrieved 1 July 2021

Worsley Mausoleum. The Mausolea & Monuments Trust, Retrieved 1 July 2021

Hovingham Estate, Retrieved 1 July 2021

“Hovingham Hall: Home of the Worsley Family” by Dr Giles Worsley, Heritage House Group, 2005.

Edited by Louise Godley and Dorjana Širola

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) “Catherine Worsley née Rawson, (1803-1885) : a short biography” In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]