About Ann

Where was Ann Walker after Anne Lister’s death?

By Diane Halford (Updated 20 May 2023)

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.

©National Archives C 106/60 Envelope addressed to Miss Walker, Shibden Hall – letter received and answered 20th February 1841

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.

“The amount allowed to Dr. Belcombe by the Chancellor for the maintenance of Miss W. £277.15 from the 19th September 1843 to the 13th April 1844.”

Letter from Murray, Rymer and Murray to Capt. Sutherland 20th July 1845 – West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN 103:2/101

London Area

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 or near 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.

“We take possession of our house tomorrow [St John’s Wood in London] and in the course of the week we hope she also will be here when we will of course get for her the best advice.”

Letter from Elizabeth Sutherland (London) to Robert Parker (Halifax) 29th April 1844 – West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale FW:120/31

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.

“I have seen Mr. Winslow and he would prefer seeing yourself, perhaps the better way would be for him to attend you at your residence and he could at the same time pay Miss W. a professional visit.”

CN: 103/2/98 – Letter from Rymer to Capt. Sutherland, 12 November 1844 – West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:103/2/98

A letter from George Mackay Sutherland to Robert Parker also suggests that Ann is at Abbey Lodge on 22 November 1844 after a visit from a cousin, Miss Atkinson, and a friend, Lydia Fenton. (West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, FW:120/32). This letter clearly shows that Ann is upset with her family for the “insult offered to the memory of her deceased friend [Anne Lister]”.

Miss Atkinson who never had given Ann Walker any cause of offence indeed has not seen her since 1834 went into her room to see her yesterday. She made a fearful row, and turned her out of her room in a second saying she would never acknowledge any one except the Gentlemen of the Heralds College, and the force with which she shut her door, shook the House imprecating the Vengeance of God against all for the insult offered to the memory of her deceased friend…She absolutely rejoices in her Sisters sickness and has no doubt but all the rest of her relatives will be similarly punished.”

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, FW:120/32

Sussex House, Hammersmith, London

Edward Hands, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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 into this establishment or how long she stayed there. The letter quoted in the previous section about wishing her family ill and the impending death of her sister may have contributed to this removal. 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.

National Archive J 103/2

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 Shibden Hall on 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.

“Capt. Sutherland proposes to bring his family and Miss Walker to Shibden in the course of the Summer“  

Letter from William Gray (York) to Robert Parker (Halifax) 13th February 1845 – West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale FW:120/51/1

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”.

”Retained the allowance for maintenance from 28 December 1844 to the 17 April 1845 when the Lunatic was removed to Shibden Hall at £1500 per annum”

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:100/2

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”.

Leeds Mercury 17th May 1845 ©The British Library Board via BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk

At the same time Dr John Lister, the heir, opposed the railways coming through Shibden and wrote a legal petition to the Houses of Parliament about his objections. In this document dated 1845, it states thus:

“The rooms are not large but numerous & Capt Sutherland & family Miss Walker & her attendants with Governess and Tutor and a large Establishment are now residing there”

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale, FW:120/23

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

January 29th 1848
“By Mrs Baines for Wages in full when Miss Walker came to Cliff Hill”

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale CN:100/2

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”

©National Archives C 14/905 “Ann Walker 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.

“I know that Mrs. Dyson, an old lady, the Committee of the person of Miss Walker is desirous that the place should be ready for the Reception of Miss Walker at any time she may take a fancy to return. After a few years there may be many changes. Miss Walker may settle down at Cliff Hill, and all feeling of return to Shibden may be dissipated both as regards herself and friends.”

Letter from Robert Parker, Halifax, to Dr. John Lister 27th Jan, 1849 – West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale SH:7/DRL/33/1

From the England Census records in 1851, she was living at Cliffe Hill, with her friend and housekeeper, Lydia Fenton, and various servants.

©Crown Copyright/National Archive via Ancestry.co.uk

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”.

Ann Walker’s death certificate


The National Archives

West Yorkshire Archive Service

North Yorkshire County Record Office

Anne Boyens on Twitter

Steve Crabtree

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 (2022) “Where was Ann Walker after Anne Lister’s death?”: In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]

Diane Halford

Loves the archives, macaroni cheese, baseball and travelling. “When an adventure is offered, you don’t refuse”