Was Ann forcibly removed from Shibden Hall?

By Diane Halford and Steve Crabtree

It is often stated that Ann Walker was forcibly removed from Shibden Hall on 9th September 1843 by the Sutherlands, Robert Parker and the local constable, removing the hinges off the red room door to get to her. In fact a document written by Robert Parker after the event tells another story.

There is a document in Calderdale Archives about her removal from Shibden Hall that lays out clearly the events of the day of her removal and the day after.

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale: MAC: 73/26

Memorandum of Robert Parker, Shibden Hall, 9th-11th Sepember 1843. Transcription by Steve Crabtree

“9th September 1843.

Memorandum that this morning Captain Sutherland wished me to accompany him as his Solicitor to Shibden Hall. I took a fly and arrived there about half-past ten o’clock.  The persons in the house were Mr. Short, Surgeon, York, Arthur Hedges, the Groom, John Jennings the Constable of Southowram, a little girl, the daughter of Thomas Pearson, and a daughter of Robert Mann. George Thomas and Samuel Booth were in the Courtyard. Found from Mr. Short the Surgeon that Miss Walker had been removed that morning in a carriage to the neighbourhood of York under the direction of Dr. Belcombe. Found every Room in the House locked except the little Dining Room, the Hall, the Kitchen and Butler’s Pantry. On the Dining Room table was a Reticule containing a great number of keys and various papers – Captain Sutherland after waiting about half an hour took the fly for Mrs. Sutherland to Pye Nest, who returned with him to Shibden Hall – that after hearing all particulars of Miss Walker’s departure from Shibden Hall Mrs Sutherland and the Captain in order to obtain requisite wearing Apparel proceeded to Miss Walker’s Red Room which they found locked and not finding any key that would open the door they directed Jennings the Constable to open it which he did by taking it off the Hinges – the Room was in a most filthy condition, and at the side of the Bed were a Brace of loaded Pistols, a [pile] of Lucifer matches, the Bedclothes were turned down a little on one side, and had the appearance of a person having thrown herself down, and there were marks in the sheet as if she had laid down in her shoes – there was no nail or tooth brush, the shutters were closed. An old dirty candle stick was covered with tallow as if the candle has melted away in it. The furniture in the Room might not have been dusted for months. The room adjoining Miss Walker’s Red Room was as dirty as her Red Room. Papers were strewn about in complete confusion. In the Red Room were a many handkerchiefs spotted all over with blood. Left the House about Six O Clock. Captain Mrs Sutherland went to Cliff Hill, and at the same time I returned home. The persons left in the House were Jennings the Constable, Arthur Hedges and the two Girls, Mann and Pearson. RP.

10th September

Captain Sutherland and myself walked up to Shibden Hall after breakfast. Mrs Sutherland came in Mr. Edwards carriage about Eleven O Clock. I was occupied the whole day in taking down the dispositions of Arthur Hedges, Robert Mann, George Thomas, John Jennings and Samuel Booth and returned home with Captain and Mrs. Sutherland in the carriage about 7 O Clock. RP.

The persons left at the Hall were Jennings, Hedges and the two girls. RP.”

It quite clearly states that Parker and the Sutherlands were not present when Ann left Shibden and although the door was removed from it’s hinges, it was not until the Sutherlands tried to enter her room to get clothes to take to Ann that this occurred and the room was found in a dishevelled state.

EXTRA INFORMATION: Reviewing the correspondence between Dr Belcombe, the Sutherlands and Parker in the build-up to Ann’s departure it is clear that there is no legal authority on which Ann could be removed from Shibden Hall. Instead, she must be encouraged to leave voluntarily and be received into care. The complexity arises from statements made by Belcombe beforehand that should Ann refuse, then in an effort to convince her they are to suggest that the Chancellor may seize her property, thus there is the possibility that verbal coercion occurred.

In Search of Ann Walker’s research into Ann’s life is ongoing, therefore new discoveries may change the way we chronicle her life in the future.

How to cite this article:
Diane Halford & Steve Crabtree (2021) “Was Ann forcibly removed from Shibden Hall?”: In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]


  • Lynn Pharaoh

    Thank you for this information. Whilst it is so very sad that Ann had got into such a depressed state that she wasn’t able to take care of herself, it is comforting to know that at least she didn’t experience being forcibly removed from Shibden. Perhaps Captain Sutherland was actually a nice guy after all.

    • admin

      Yes, its a common misconception that she was forcibly removed, we have no evidence of that. There is more to discover about Captain Sutherland and his role in Ann’s life, but we keep digging to find the truth.

  • Odalys Nanin

    Did Ann Walker read AListers diaries ?
    Could this be the reason why the room was full of papers thrown everywhere.
    Could she have decipher the code ?
    Where were AL diaries after Ann Walker left Shibden ? Does anyone have info on this?

    • admin

      We don’t know if Ann could or did read AL’s diaries after she died, its not mentioned in correspondence/documents found so far. AL’s dairies were at Shibden and it makes sense that AW bought home from Russia at least one of them for us to be able to read up to August 1840.