Where was Ann Walker after Anne Lister’s death?
By Diane Halford (Updated 24 November 2022)
Ever wonder where Ann Walker lived in the years after the death of her wife? This short blog will tell you what we know about where she lived until her death.
Back to Shibden Hall, Halifax from Russia
Ann Walker returned from Russia at some point in February 1841. We know that a letter in The National Archives (located in C 106/60) dated 19th February 1841 by Reverend Gratrix to Robert Parker states that she has recently returned to Halifax. We know she received and answered another letter from Robert Parker (also in C 106/60) while at Shibden Hall on 20th February 1841 as it is written on the envelope in her own hand.
Terrace House, Osbaldwick, York
She remained living at Shibden until 9th September 1843 when, after a series of unfortunate business and estate decisions and some concern about her welfare, she was removed from Shibden Hall to be under the care of Dr Belcombe in York. Whilst it is not known where she was between the 9th and 11th September, records in the North Yorkshire County Record Office show she was admitted to Terrace House (run by Mrs Elizabeth Tose) in Osbaldwick under the care of Dr Belcombe on the 12th September. We know she was there for about 7 months from a letter about the cost of Ann’s care – it states Dr Belcombe was paid for her maintenance until 13th April 1844.
16 Grove End Road, St John’s Wood
After being in Osbaldwick, it is intimated in correspondence that she went to the London area to live with Elizabeth and Capt. Sutherland around early May 1844 as they took possession of their new house at 16 Grove End Road in St John’s Wood, London on the 30th April 1844.
Abbey Lodge, Merton, Surrey
We know that Sutherlands were living at Abbey Lodge, Merton, Surrey by 21st September 1844 from a letter written to Capt. Sutherland addressed there. The below letter suggests that Ann is with the Sutherlands in November 1844 when Mr Winslow (the Master in Lunacy assigned to check up on Ann) wishes to visit Capt. Sutherland and at the same time, Ann.
Sussex House, Hammersmith, London
According to a Chancery Bond book in the National Archives, on 15th April 1845, Ann was residing at a private asylum in Hammersmith run by Dr Forbes Winslow. We do not know when she went in to this establishment or how long she stayed there. From our current evidence, she most likely went there after being at Abbey Lodge in November 1844 and at some point before or after her sister’s death.
We know she was back at Shibden Hall (according to the evidence stated below in Shibden Hall section) in April so it looks like she was not at Sussex House for very long after the bond was issued. We also know that Dr Bright, a Chancery Lunacy Visitor, visited Ann at SShibden Hall at a date between may and August 1845.
Back to Shibden Hall, Halifax
After Elizabeth’s death in December 1844 at Abbey Lodge, Capt. Sutherland writes to Gray in February 1845 and says he is bringing his family and Ann to Shibden Hall.
There is an account entry in George Mackay Sutherland’s posthumous Committee accounts that states Ann Walker was back at Shibden Hall on 17th April 1845. These accounts were sent to the Chancery Court for review for checks and balances and used the legal term at the time for someone found to be of unsound mind – “lunatic”.
In 1845 the West Riding Junction Scheme wanted to put a railway line through the Shibden Estate and run a cutting very close to the Hall. During the Railway Committee hearing on 7th May 1845, Mr Alexander represented Capt. Sutherland, as Committee of Estate for Ann Walker, who was opposed to the scheme. In the newpapers of the time Ann (wrongly named as Mary) was described as “the occupier of Shibden Hall”.
There are numerous letters & invoices in the West Yorkshire Archive Service’s catalogue that are addressed to Miss Walker, Shibden Hall to verify she was in residence until at least 1847.
Back to the childhood home, Cliffe Hill, Lightcliffe
She remained at Shibden Hall until early 1848 when she moved to Cliffe Hill after her Aunt Ann’s death. An account entry in Aunt Ann Walker’s accounts made after her death in the Calderdale Archives states that she was there by 29th January 1848
Ann was still living at Cliffe Hill on 2nd November 1848 because she is named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit and in the pleadings on that date she is described as being “then of Shibden Hall….but now of Cliff Hill”
In early 1849 she was still living at Cliffe Hill but it was thought she may wish to move back to Shibden Hall at some point by her Committee of Person and her aunt, Mrs Harriet Dyson.
From the England Census records in 1851, she was living at Cliffe Hill, with her friend and housekeeper, Lydia Fenton, and various servants.
From her death certificate, it appears Ann remained at Cliffe Hill until she died on 25th February 1854. In the column “When Died” it states that her death was at “Cliff Hill, Hipperholme”.
West Yorkshire Archive Service
North Yorkshire County Record Office
** Our research (as well as other’s) is ongoing and so new discoveries may impact how we understand the events in the future. **