By Caroline Maillard
Image above from Historic England
Date: 1900 – 1934 Location: Pye Nest, Sowerby Bridge, Calderdale
Reference: BB71/02769 Type: Photograph (Negative)
Birth and early Life
Delia Priestley Edwards was born in Skircoat, West Yorkshire on 25th February, 1807. She was the eldest daughter of Henry Lees Edwards, a wealthy woollens manufacturer, and Lea Priestley (cousin of William Priestley). Delia and Ann Walker were first cousins; Ann’s mother Mary was the sister of Henry Lees Edwards.1 Henry Lees Edwards’ close connection to the Walker family resulted in his being named a joint trustee, along with William Priestley, of Ann Walker’s affairs after her brother John died.2
Delia had seven brothers and sisters, including Henry Edwards (1812-1886)3, who later became a Conservative Member of Parliament for Halifax4.
The Edwards family lived at Pye Nest, one of the great houses of West Yorkshire in the 18th and 19th centuries. The land where the Edwards home stood was once owned by Japhet Lister, Anne Lister’s great-uncle, who sold it to John Edwards, father of Henry Lees and Ann Walker’s grandfather. The house at Pye Nest was subsequently built for John Edwards in 1767 by English architect John Carr (1723-1807). Ann Walker’s uncle William Walker was so taken by the design that he asked architect Thomas Bradley to replicate it when building the Walker home at Crow Nest in the mid-1770s.5
Anne Lister diary entries
During Delia’s childhood and adolescence, Anne Lister made several visits to the Edwards family at Pye Nest and to Haugh End (home of Edwards cousin, Henry Priestley), as noted in her diaries:
Friday, 1 January 1819 At 11 ¾ set off to Haugh-end went down the n.b.- [new bank] along the market place by Ward’s end, Blackwall and Royston road. In the hope of meeting with Miss B- [Browne] got to Haugh End about 1 found Delia Edwards (who has been there since xmas day) so ill, fever and delirium, taking nothing but cold water when she awakes and almost constantly asleep that I only stayed an hour. John E- [Edwards] also very ill of rheumatic fever in London. (SH:7/ML/E/2/0095 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale) Tuesday, 12 January 1819 At 11 ½ down the old bank up Horton Street, Black wall and Royston road to Pye-nest, to inquire after Mrs E- Edwards] and her children John and Delia – Mrs E- [Edwards] not being down stairs, did not see her, and stayed only a few minutes. (SH:7/ML/E/2/0098 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale) Friday, 10 January 1823 At 11, my aunt & I were off in the gig to Pye Nest…Sat 1/2 hour with Mrs. E. [Edwards] & her daughter, Delia, & sons Charles, Henry, and Thomas. A sad vulgar set. I said nothing but my aunt exclaimed about it as soon as we were out of the house. I thought she would. The servant came in with his linen jacket and apron on. (SH:7/ML/E/6//0083 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
John Walker’s death and other notable episodes from the 1830s
Delia Priestley Edwards witnessed the wedding of her cousin John Walker (Ann’s brother) to Frances (Fanny) Esther Penfold on 28 July 1829. As noted in Anne Lister’s diary entries below, Delia accompanied John & Fanny on their European honeymoon after Ann Walker bowed out. Tragically, John Walker died during the newlyweds’ stay in Naples in January 1830.6
20 July 1829 The Walkers leave Crow Nest on Tuesday. I suppose Mr. Walker will be married immediately on his arrival in the South, and as they are going abroad for a year, I fancy they set off directly for Paris. Marian declined sending any letter by him. Miss Walker, his sister, declined going so they bring Miss Edwards, his cousin, with them. (SH:7/ML/E/12/0059 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Henry Edwards Junior, Delia’s brother, then visited Anne Lister in Paris several months after John Walker’s death:
30 November 1830 Home at 11 50/.. Breakfast – dressed – at my desk at 1 3/4. Between 3 and 4, Mr. Henry Edwards, Jr., of Pyenest called and staid about an hour. Hoped to see him some evening. Received him very civilly, making no allusion to his having been here all last winter, and to his sister not having called when Mr. and Mrs. Walker passed through Paris to Naples, where Mr. Walker died. Nor did I make any other comment than, ‘Oh! you are not very far from us’ on learning that Mr. Edwards was at No. 24 Place Vendôme. (SH:7/ML/E/13/0114 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
In September 1832, John Walker’s widow, Fanny, married Ireland-born Courtney Kenny Clarke at Halifax Minster. They had one child together, Charlotte Maria (b. 1836). Fanny died in 1838 at age 34. Six years later, in January 1844, her widower, Courtney Kenny Clarke, married Delia Priestley Edwards (see “Marriage & Children” below).7
In an interesting twist, Henry may have proposed to his cousin Ann Walker at some point. Ann revealed this to Anne Lister during the Mr. Ainsworth episode in November 1832.
1 November 1832 She [Ann Walker] said how beautifully I behaved, urging neither one way nor other, but speaking for him rather than myself. She said there was a something in me she liked better than in him. Felt repugnance to forming any connection with the other sex. [in margin] She told me this morning before going out of her cousin Henry Edwards having offered to her! (SH:7/ML/E/15/0137 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
During the 1830’s, Anne Lister’s diaries chronicled multiple interactions with members of the Edwards family, including what she termed an “odd” exchange between Henry Lees Edwards and Ann Walker in October 1832.
15 October 1832 Miss Walker came in 5 or 6 minutes – Off with her at 11 – Shopped – Sat in the carriage while Miss W- called on Mr. Hudson at Ward’s End – Mr. Edwards came to the carriage door to ask me to vote (from the Northgate property) in favor of I forgot whom, against the radical candidate Rawsden for the constableship – The town in a bustle – voting at the Waterhouse’s Arms – The poll to close at 5 p.m. – I had heard, nor knew anything about it – Mr. Edwards had just voted in right of his executorship to the late but one Mr. Walker of Crow Nest – Odd enough to say this before his daughter sitting by me, who afterwards observed that she was now the 2nd in succession to that property – (SH:7/ML/E/15/0132 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale) 14 February 1833 Downstairs at 9 50/.. – Prayers – Breakfast at 10 – All the day siding packing seat box and imperial for Miss Walker – Mrs. Dyson of Willowfield and 2 Misses Edwards of Pye Nest called between 4 and 5 for about 1/2 hour – and Mr. Sunderland called at 6 for a few minutes – (SH:7/ML/E/16/0017 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale) 18 February 1833 Returned along my walk – Home at 2 10/.. – Mrs. Henry Priestley and Mrs. Dyson of Willowfield and Miss Edwards of Pye Nest here – Went into the drawing room to them for 20 minutes – Very civil to all, particularly Mrs. H. P. – [Earlier that day, Ann Walker had left for Scotland with her sister and brother-in-law, Captain and Mrs. Sutherland.] (SH:7/ML/E/16/0018 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
When Anne and Ann Walker stopped in London on their way to France in June 1834, they visited Delia Edwards and other friends from Halifax.
Ann Walker’s Journal 10 June 1834 6.10 at half past off for Acre Lane – arrived there 7.15 Aunt & Uncle looking thin, she in tears first half hour – Anne at 8 York Terrace Regents Park – with Mrs. & J. Dyson. – Delia & Charles Edwards – Mr. Egam in London all going to Ascot races on thursday.8 (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/3 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Marriage and children
On 31 January, 1844 Delia married Courtney Kenny Clarke, the Ireland-born second husband and widower of Frances (Fanny) Penfold Walker. At the time of their marriage, Courtney was living at Haugh End in Halifax, while Delia resided at Pye-Nest. Once married, census records show that the Clarke family lived at Haugh End in Halifax (in the 1840s and 1850s), West Teignmouth in Devon (1861), and in Dublin, Ireland from the mid-1860’s until at least 1873.9
Delia and Courtney had three children together:
• Delia Lea Clarke (1845-1928) Delia Lea never married, and was living in Halifax with her mother (Delia Priestley Clarke) when the latter died in 1881 and 1891 per the Census.10
• John Henry Courtney Clarke (1847-1925) became a clergyman with the Church of England, serving as the Vicar of Tong (1891 Census) and of Tamworth (1911 Census).11
• Frances Esther Anne Clarke (1848-1916), was perhaps named after John Walker’s widow and Courtney Kenny Clarke’s first wife, Frances (Fanny) Esther. Frances E.A. Clarke married the Rev. Fitzherbert Astley Cave-Brown-Cave in 1875.12
Widowhood and death
Delia’s husband Courtney Kenny Clarke died in December 1873 in Dublin, Ireland. Delia Clarke and her stepdaughter Charlotte Maria Walsh (nee Clarke) were executors of Mr. Clarke’s will.13
Delia Priestley Clarke survived her husband by almost twenty years. The 1881 and 1891 censuses show her living once again in Halifax, on Well Head Lane with her daughter Delia Lea Clarke. Delia Priestley Clarke died at age 85, on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1892, leaving effects totaling £902 to her son, Rev. John Henry Courtney Clarke.14 She was buried in All Saints Churchyard, Salterhebble on April 21, 1892.15
1 – Ancestry https://ancestry.com (which requires a paid subscription to access)
2 – David Glover, President, Halifax Antiquarian Society https://www.halifaxhistory.org.uk/
Post “Sir Henry Edwards of Pye Nest” in the Skircoat Green Directory
3 – Ancestry https://ancestry.com
4 David Glover, Ibid.
5 – West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS) citation: WYHER 7857/Record held at Historical Environment Record, West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service.
6 – John and Fanny Walker Honeymoon Story Map
7 – Ancestry https://ancestry.com
8 – Ann Walker’s Journal at West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/3
9-13 – https://ancestry.com
14 – UK Probate search https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/
15 – Ancestry https://ancestry.com
Anne Lister’s diaries at West Yorkshire Archive Service [January 1819 entries]
Ann Walker’s Journal at West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/3
Whitbread, Helena (ed) The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister: I Know My Own Heart (London, Virago Press, 2010), p. 254. [January 1823 entry]
Anne Lister Diary Transcriptions by:
Jane Kendall (@kendalljane), Agreeableizing [1829-1833 entries]
Journal Transcriptions by Steph Gallaway [November 1832 entry]
Read more Ann’s Associates blog posts here
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:
Caroline Maillard (2021) “Delia Priestley Edwards of Pye Nest”: In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]