Delia Elizabeth Rawson
If you’ve watched Sally Wainwright’s television drama Gentleman Jack, Season 1, episode 3, you would have seen Delia and her mother, Elizabeth Rawson, call on Ann Walker at Crownest while Anne Lister was there. Here’s the transcription of Anne’s recollection of that visit.
Anne Lister Diary 27 September 1832
off to Lidgate at 7 ½ - along the high road and at Lidgate at 8 – Miss Walker ready to see me, and breakfast almost immediately – sat talking about an hour over the breakfast table then adjourned to the other, and were just going out about 12 ½ when Mrs Stansfield and Miss Delia Rawson called (from Gledholt near Huddersfield, 7 miles off) and staid an hour - Miss W- glad I had sat them out – 1(SH:7/ML/E/15/0122 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Delia was a distant cousin of Ann Walker. Her father Stansfeld’s brother, William Henry Rawson, married Mary Priestley in 1806, and her mother was Elizabeth (Walker) Priestley, Ann’s aunt. Delia was the niece of Christopher and Jeremiah Rawson. Her older sister, Katherine Rawson was closer to Ann Walker, and is mentioned in many of Anne Lister’s diary entries.
Delia Elizabeth Rawson was born at Gledholt, near Huddersfield on 14th July 1809. She was the third of Stansfeld and Elizabeth (née Leach) Rawson’s seven children. Delia was baptized on 6th February 1810 at St. John the Baptist Church, Halifax. Her father, Stansfeld, was a wealthy Yorkshire banker who managed the family bank in Huddersfield for several years. The Rawsons moved from Gledholt to Savile Green in Halifax in the 1820s.
Stansfeld’s name appears spelled in various ways, from Stanfield Rawson to Stausfeld Rasmsor or Stansfild Rawson, as the Valentine Museum’s catalog refers to him. It will be spelled Stansfeld in this piece as that is the spelling of the memorial plaques and his stone at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Nether Wasdale as well as in many written articles about him.
Stansfeld Rawson & Wasdale Hall
Stansfeld purchased land in Nether Wasdale in 1811, which included two estates called Crook Head and low Crook. In 1825, he began planting hundreds of thousands of trees, including fruit, over the next several decades while he was building his home. In 1835, his daughters also planted trees – Delia planted fern-leaved hornbeam, Mary Ann cut leaved beech, and Emma purple beech. The Rawson family finally moved into Wasdale Hall, Netherwasdale in 1843. Read this from the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society’s Transactions Volume XCIII for an in-depth article on Stansfeld and the building of Wasdale Hall.2
Stansfeld shared a model of this home as he was planning it, with Anne Lister when she was a dinner guest at his home. Her diary records her opinion:
Anne Lister Diary 21, August 1822
I got to the Rawson’s about 2. - Mentioned my intention to have called on Mrs Kelly but for the rain, and named the circumstances of my first calling on her - Spoke highly tho’ not at all undeservedly in her favour. - Talked over letter writing - different sorts of hands. Read a letter written by their governess Miss Holme’s - Remarked the dashes, and my not liking dashes in general. — Talked also of dress. And being asked, said honestly that perhaps Mrs Rawson ought to dress a little more when she went to dress-parties. Sat down to dinner with them at 4. and for form’s sake picked the back-bone of a chicken. — It seems Mr Rawson thinks of building an old house at Wastwater, and he has been making models. - The last, apparently, the 3rd, and which they seem satisfied is beautifully made, but the plan would not be to my taste. - It is meant to be (a studded) an unassuming, old hall, with modern convenience - The beauty and propriety of these things, said Mr Rawson is to have no 2 windows alike, and as many ins and outs in the fronts as possible. — According to this rule he has succeeded, but the model gives me the idea of a large old farm-house. - There is certainly no uniformity, and it will look like one of the has-beens of about a century and a half ago, without conveying to me an idea of a gentleman’s place at present. - I said the plan was quite new to me. - I had never seen anything like it. - I have seen all the different component parts, but never such a whole. — Chacun a son gout. 3 (SH:7/ML/E/6/0042 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Anne Lister wasn’t impressed with Stansfeld’s 1822 model of his home, but her entry confirms that he spent years planning Wasdale Hall. Though it was not to Anne’s taste, the final result was beautiful and still stands today. The National Trust purchased Wasdale Hall in 1959, and has leased it to the Youth Hostelling Association of England and Wales for over 60 years.
To see to view several images of Wasdale Hall, past and present, visit the CLOG Nether Wasdale blog.
Rawson portrait silhouettes
William James Hubard from Shropshire, England is known for his cuttings of black paper silhouettes. Below is a silhouette of Stansfeld Rawson, which is held at the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia, USA.4 Hubard enjoyed traveling, and became interested in portrait painting and sculpting. Hubard eventually married and settled in Richmond, Virginia, USA where he became friends with Mann S Valentine, owner of the Valentine museum. Hubard died in 1862, after sustaining injuries from an accidental explosion during the American Civil War.
There are two other silhouettes by Hubard, purportedly of Delia and her mother, Elizabeth Rawson, which can be viewed on the Bonham’s site.
According to the 1851 census, Delia lived with her sister Katherine and her husband, Thomas Worsley, and five servants at Martin Lodge, Saint Benedict, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.5 Worsley was Master of Downing College. Delia is listed as an ‘annuitant’, which suggests she had a private income. We have no idea when she left Wasdale Hall or if she returned prior to her father’s death.
Passing of Stansfeld & Elizabeth
Stansfeld Rawson passed away in 1856, at the age of 78, while still living at Wasdale Hall. Delia wrote a letter on Wednesday April 8, 1857 to her cousin, Samuel Waterhouse, regarding her father’s will.
It reads in part:
“That the trial of leaving this our beautiful home must be great anyway, cannot be denied - and the prospect of strangers possessing & desecrating a spot where almost every tree has been planted & every stone of the house planned by my dearest father is a sorrow we dare not contemplate but if this must be, we shall I trust be enabled to bear a trial ordered for us by Him who can & will overrule for ultimate good. That is very hard for weak mortals to bear in their short passage through this life - one thing I must venture to say however I cannot at all see that the executors are “bound” to let this property go to the highest bidder. If I rightly understood the terms of the Will it was left optional with you to let, sell, or do anything you thought right – so surely it will be quite right to allow the most worthy - not the most wealthy to purchase – We would one & all far rather it went for half its value to one who could appreciate its singular beauty...”6 (WYC-1525-7-8-1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale)
Delia’s words confirm her father’s love and heart in building Wasdale Hall. In this letter she also discusses moving her mother to Gale Syke for her remaining years. The 1861 census shows Delia living with her widowed mother and three servants at Gale Syke, Nether Wasdale. Her mother, Elizabeth passed away in 1866 at 84 years.7
At some point, presumably after her mother’s death, Delia moved to Waterden Lodge, Guildford in Surrey.
On 18th February 1869, Delia was listed in the Leeds Mercury in the partnership information for the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Bank.
Delia died at her home in Guildford on 18th July 1870, at the age of 61, from ‘Cancer of the Abdomen’.
In Delia’s Last Will & Testament of 13th May 1868 she discusses her burial:
“I expressly request that I may be borne to my Grave and that every arrangement respecting my funeral may be as simple as possible and that a plain stone and a simple cross upon it with my name and age and the date of my death shall alone mark my resting place and that as there is a space left for one more coffin in our little Vault in Wasdale Church Yard I may be buried there with my Father and Mother but if this is impracticable from distance or other circumstances I then request that my body may be laid by the side of my dear sister Emma Rhodes at Harrow Weald” 8 UK Probate
Delia’s wishes to join her parents in the churchyard were granted; her body was transported three hundred miles from Guildford for her burial at Nether Wasdale. Though the route is not known, it’s possible that Delia’s casket was transported via train, which most likely took several days. The route could have been London to Carnforth, then via the West Coast Railway to Seascale, where the casket would then have been taken by cart on to Nether Wasdale.
Delia was buried with her parents and her aunt in Nether Wasdale churchyard. The church burial register reads: “Delia Elizabeth Rawson of Waterden Lodge, Guildford, Surrey, buried on the 23rd July 1870, died 18th July 1870, age 61 years”9 Whitehaven Archive and Local Studies Center
St Michael & All Angels Church in Nether Wasdale dates back to 1535. It was originally a chapel of ease for St Bees Priory. In 1830, Stanfeld Rawson made a donation to build the additions to the north aisle and vestry, as well as the oak paneling in the sanctuary. The churchyard cemetery holds about 20 grave stones. Within the church itself there are several memorial plaques honoring members of the Rawson family.
In 1949, the headstones in the churchyard were transcribed by Revd. J.S. Whinerey. He describes the Rawson monument:
“which is a cross in the NW corner of the Churchyard, with the inscription around the sides which reads: Here rest the bodies of Stansfeld Rawson who died Nov 26 1856 aged 78, Elizabeth his wife, who died Sept 2 1866 aged 85 and Mary widow of Christian Tawke (or Hawke?) who died Dec 9 1851 aged 79. Delia Elizabeth Rawson, daughter of the above who died July 18 1870 aged 61.” 10 YPR 20/15: Monumental inscriptions in Nether Wasdale churchyard, Cumbria Archive and Local Studies Centre, Whitehaven
Mary Tawke was Elizabeth’s sister.
Unless a woman in the 19th century wrote a journal as Anne Lister and (we now know) Ann Walker did, it’s very difficult to learn much about her. But through Delia’s letters, and her Last Will and Testament and codicil, we can get a feel for who she was. Her estate was valued under £10,000 in 1870, which is equivalent to about £1,221,000 today.11
We find that she had a strong sense of family, through her generous legacies to her sisters, nieces, nephews and her goddaughter. She also ensured that her nieces’ inheritances would be for their sole and separate use, independent of any husband, if they married.
She was a staunch Anglican and made this stipulation in her will regarding her late sister, Emma Rhodes’ daughter, should she enter a convent – “bequeathed to my niece Mary Elizabeth Rhodes shall not be paid to her if she has at the time it is payable entered a Convent or unless she shall before its payment give my Executor her written assurance that she has no intention of entering a convent and in case of my said niece having entered a Convent or of her refusal to give such assurance as aforesaid then I do hereby give and bequeath the said legacy or sum of one hundred pounds to the Additional Curates Society.”
It’s interesting to note that Delia’s sister Emma’s other daughter, Lucy Howard Rhodes, became a Poor Clare Nun at Woodchester Convent. Sister Mary Alphonsus (Lucy Howard) Rhodes died in 1881 and is buried in a communal grave with other nuns at the Priory Church of the Annunciation Churchyard, Woodchester, Stroud District, Gloucestershire, England. Lucy Howard Rhodes was not named in Delia’s will.
Delia also left money to several charities such as Miss Gilbert’s Association for promoting the General Welfare of the Blind, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Corporation of the Friends of the Clergy.
In her codicil dated 14th May 1870, written two months prior to her death, Delia no doubt knew she was terminally ill. Having been bequeathed an inheritance from her uncle George Leach, payable upon the death of his widow, she left money to the children of her late brother, Charles Rawson to enable them to pay off debts, and the same to her nephew Charles Collinson Rawson to pay off his sister Bessie’s share in a property, so that the brothers would own it entirely. She gave money to other nephews and to more charities.
While her personal possessions and £250 were given to each of her sisters, Katherine Worsley and Mary Ann Hutchinson in her 1868 will, her codicil thoughtfully bequeathed “the sum of 100 pounds each to my sisters Mary Ann Hutchinson and Katherine Worsley as they will have expense in settling matters in my little house in Guildford.” She also left the sum of £19 and nineteen shillings “to my kind brother in law the Reverend Benjamin Hutchinson who has incurred much expense in journies &c for me.”
Continuing her generosity, Delia also remembered her servants – “I also bequeath in addition in each case to their respective wages and full mourning the sum of two pounds to my personal servant Hannah Tyson the sum of five pounds to my housekeeper Mrs Hindle and the sum of two pounds to my servant Elizabeth Brown.”14
Through her will and codicil we see her thoughtfulness in regards to her family, her servants and the charities she believed in. Her burial request was to be with her parents, and for simplicity with an alternative plan should the distance be too far. Delia’s final decisions and wishes showed careful consideration for the people she cared about in her life, which is an admirable legacy.
1 – 27 September 1832 Anne Lister Transcription by Frankie Raia, Anne Lister Italia
SH:7/ML/E/15/0122 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale
2 – 21 August 1822 Anne Lister Transcription by Brian Moseley
SH:7/ML/E/6/0042 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale
3 – archaeologydataservice.ac.uk -Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society’s Transactions Volume XCIII.
ART. XIX – Wasdale Hall, Janet D. Martin (pp.269-282)
4 – Rawson Silhouette V.35.23.02, The Valentine Museum, Richmond VA, USA https://thevalentine.org
5 – Ancestry https://www.ancestry.com/ (paid registration required)
6 – Letter from Delia to her cousin Samuel Waterhouse
WYC-1525-7-8-1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale
7 – Ancestry https://www.ancestry.com/
8 – Delia’s death certificate – General Register Office (GRO) https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/
9 – Nether Wasdale Churchyard burial register – Whitehaven Archive and Local Studies Center
10 – Transcription by Revd. J.S. Whinerey of the Rawson cemetery plot – YPR 20/15: Monumental inscriptions in Netherwasdale Churchyard, Cumbria Archive and Local Studies Centre, Whitehaven
11 – CPI Inflation Calculator used in conversion https://www.officialdata.org/uk/inflation/1870?amount=10000
12 – Find a Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com/memorial/194041141/mary_alphonsus-lucy_howard-rhodes : accessed 07 May 2021), memorial page for Sr Mary Alphonsus Lucy Howard Rhodes (unknown–unknown), Find a Grave Memorial ID 194041141, citing Priory Church of the Annunciation Churchyard, Woodchester, Stroud District, Gloucestershire, England; Maintained by Steven Keller (contributor 47478415)
13 – The Mission Field, December 1, 1870, A Monthly Record, Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1870 Vol XV (Page 351) https://www.google.com/books/edition/Mission_Field/3gE_AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Delia+Elizabeth+Rawson&pg=PA351&printsec=frontcover
14 – Delia’s Last Will and Testament and Codicile – UK Probate https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/
Many thanks to Inigo Ford, Church Warden St Michael and All Angels Church, Nether Wasdale for taking photos of the Rawson monument and allowing them to be published here.
Halifax and Huddersfield Union partnership listing news article
Leeds Mercury 18 February 1869 ©The British Library Board
Delia’s death notice
Home News for India, China and the Colonies 22 July 1870 ©The British Library Board
Wasdale Hall past and present photos – Clog – Nether Wasdale blog
Delia & Elizabeth Rawson Silhouette’s – Bonhams Auctions https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/17964/lot/184/
Anne Lister’s diaries at West Yorkshire Archive Service
William James Hubard biography http://www.avictorian.com/Hubard_William_James.html
Special thanks to the following people for all their kind support and assistance with this project
Diane Halford, Archival Research, In Search of Ann Walker https://insearchofannwalker.com/
David Glover, President Halifax Antiquarian Society, https://www.halifaxhistory.org.uk
John Steel, Cumbria Family History Society, http://www.cumbriafhs.com
Read more Ann’s Associates blog posts here
Edited by Louise Godley
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.