Ann Walker

1803 - 1854

Marlene OliveiraPublished on 20 May 2022  · Last updated on 20 May 2022

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A brief intro to Ann Walker

Ann Walker was born at Lightcliffe on the 20th of May 1803. She was the third daughter of John and Mary Walker of Crow Nest. Young Ann Walker is mentioned occasionally in the journals of Anne Lister and others, often in connection with social calls or other similar encounters. However, despite her knack for being mentioned in other people’s journals and papers, not a lot is known about this period of Miss Walker’s life. Aside from small bits of information classifying Ann as a very eligible bachelorette, there are details about all the losses she suffered. Ann buried her parents just a few months apart in 1823 and, in 1830, she would also lose her brother John. After this, Ann and her older sister Elizabeth became the last surviving siblings of this generation of Walkers, as well as co-heiresses of the family estate.

Described as shy and good-humoured, young Ann Walker was also brave. On one particular occasion, she took a chance and chased Anne Lister down a country lane to invite her to tea (Lister 12 Jun 1821). Her apparent interest in Anne Lister is noticed by Lister herself throughout the years and she thinks the attentive Miss Walker is “a favourite” until she deems the Walkers to be “vulgar” (Lister 18 Jun 1822). Despite Lister’s snobbery, Ann and Anne still saw each other socially from time to time and Ann continued to call at Shibden Hall.

Ann Walker eventually reconnected with Anne Lister and the two engaged in a romantic relationship at the end of the summer of 1832. However, after one of Ann’s friends died, her health took a turn for the worse and she eventually travelled to Scotland at the start of 1833 to spend some time with her family and seek medical treatment. Ann’s time in Scotland came to an end later that year, when she decided to return to Yorkshire. On her return, Ann decided to contact Anne Lister again and the two reconnected.

At the start of 1834 and after some indecisions and no small dose of bravery, Ann Walker finally decided to commit to Anne Lister and become her life companion. Her decision was made on the 10th of February 1834, rings were exchanged on the 27 of the same month, and their union was solemnized by taking the sacrament together at Holy Trinity Church (Goodramgate, York) on Easter Day 1834 (Wainwright and Choma 2019, 311). 

Walker then embarked on a tour of France and Switzerland with Anne Lister. During this trip, Ann Walker kept a journal, in which she recorded her thoughts and observations about what she saw and experienced (Walker 1834-1835). The food, the view, and numerous other details didn’t escape her eye and she enjoyed some adventures, such as hikes, excursions on mules, and visits to the odd mine along the way. Ann’s interest in travelling surprised even Anne Lister, who commented that  Ann “is turning out an excellent traveller, and seems little less fond of it than I am - She makes no difficulties - is pleased with all she sees, and is looking, and being, much stronger” (Lister 22 Jul 1834). 

On their return to England, Ann Walker then moved to Shibden Hall and settled there with the Listers. Her union with Anne Lister brought her happiness, independence, and the opportunity for personal growth and further intellectual development. However, as with any marriage, there were good times and bad times, and their union wasn’t devoid of its attritions. Miss Walker’s temper shone occasionally during these periods and she often resorted to silence, antics that often frustrated Lister. Regardless, the two enjoyed many intimate moments throughout the years and early on Walker remarks that she wants Lister “in a thousand ways” (Lister 21 Feb 1834). Walker’s caring side is evident on numerous occasions, but perhaps more especially when she nurses Lister back to health. Conversely, Ann is also celebrated by Anne Lister. For example, in 1838, Lister proposed toasts to her wife’s health when Ann Walker rode to the Cascade de Gavarnie and, later, reached the summit of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre. 

During the years Ann Walker shared with Anne Lister, she had the chance to travel more extensively in the UK and abroad. After their travels in France in 1834, the two embarked on countless trips, including casual sketching trips in Yorkshire, and an extensive tour of the Pyrenees, in which Miss Walker rode horses to the summits of some mountains. Later, more comprehensive adventures in remote areas of Russia and the Caucasus followed. Along the way, Miss Walker used her good eye for detail and her art skills to produce numerous sketches of the places she visited and the things she saw. Reading occupied her often too, both at home and whilst travelling, and she also invested some of her time in studying French. A skilled horserider, Ann’s riding skills served her quite well during these tours, allowing her to cover long distances whilst Lister walked nearby.

At home, Ann used her time to manage her estate with the assistance of her steward, kept an eye on her elderly aunt at Cliff Hill, studied her family history, and engaged in charity works. Despite her relative fame as Lister’s companion, Ann’s strongest links to the history of Lightcliffe and the neighbourhood are probably borne out of her charity works. During her lifetime, Ann was a subscriber to numerous causes, from church charities to books. Perhaps her greatest undertaking during her lifetime was funding and managing her Sunday School for boys and girls in Lightcliffe, which lasted from 1834 to 1839.

After Lister’s death during their tour of the Caucasus in 1840, Ann Walker ensured that her wife’s remains were repatriated (British Newspaper Archive 1840, 3; Court of Chancery 1846). She continued to live at Shibden Hall until September of 1843 (Parker 9-11 Sep 1843). In 1843, after a few tumultuous months full of legal issues of different severities, Ann was deemed 'a person of unsound mind' by an Inquisition of Lunacy (Court of Chancery 2 Nov 1843). She spent some time under treatment at an asylum in Osbaldwick, near York (Oliveira, Labate, and Dobson 2021). Later on, Ann went to live with her sister's family in London (Sutherland 29 Apr 1844). In 1845, Ann returned to Shibden Hall (Gray Jr. 12 Feb 1845) and lived there until 1847. It was in that year that Miss Walker returned to Cliff Hill, where she would eventually die after a short illness in February of 1854. She was buried at St. Matthews Church, nowadays Old St. Matthews, in the family vault (Musgrave 3 Mar 1854). 

Ann Walker left behind a legacy of charity works that benefited the poor of Lightcliffe and lasted for over a hundred years after her death.

Miss Walker remains a woman of mystery. No painting or other likeness of hers is known. We are using here a composite of a silhouette of a young woman and one of the covers of Ann's journal. Background image courtesy of West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale (WYC:1525/7/1/5/1/41).

Also known as: Adny / Adney

Life companion: Anne Lister

Adney at a glance

Birth: 20 May 1803 in Lightcliffe 

Death: 25 February 1854 at Cliffe Hill, Lightcliffe

Burial place: Old St. Matthews, Lightcliffe

Physical Attributes

Eye color: Unknown

Hair color: Blonde (“pretty flaxen hair”)

Height: 5 ft. (roughly 1.52 m)

Ann Walker's signature, commonly found in more formal letters. Image courtesy of the West Yorkshire Archive Service Calderdale (CN:103/4/26).
Ann Walker's abbreviated signature, sometimes found in letters to Anne Lister. Image courtesy of the West Yorkshire Archive Service Calderdale (SH:7/ML/625).

Notable achievements

“I will try to rouse, if it is not too late - I would if I could recal [recall] time, but to live very differently from what I have done”

Ann Walker - 13 May 1833 (SH:7/ML/678)

“Do come quickly for I am getting dull and I want you in a thousand ways”

Ann Walker - 21 February 1834 (SH:7/ML/E/16/0172)

"I do not see that there is any necessity or moral obligation on our part to instruct our opponents how to get more out of us than they are satisfied with already."

Ann Walker - 13 September 1834 (CN:103/4/28)

Getting to know Miss Walker



Ann Walker's wax seals

Ann Walker's seal "Foi Est Tout", which was a gift from Anne Lister on Walker's birthday in 1834. Image courtesy of the West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale (SH:7/ML/774).
A mourning seal belonging to Ann Walker, with the inscription "Not lost but gone before". Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale (SH:7/ML/609).
A seal sporting Ann's initials "A.W." in an ornate and barely legible font. Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale (SH:7/ML/624).

The Walkers of Crow Nest

The Walkers of Crow Nest have their origins as a branch of the Walker family originating from Birstall (between Bradford and Leeds), from which the Walkers of Walterclough Hall (Southowram) also descend (Bretton 1971, 102). Though they share the same familial branch, the Walkers of Crow Nest enjoyed more prosperity than their Southowram counterparts and over time became quite wealthy.

Ann Walker’s father, John Walker, was the second son of William Walker of Crow Nest (1713 - 1786). John married Mary Edwards in 1795 and the couple had five children (two boys and three girls). He inherited the family estate after his brother William died in 1809, and after that Ann and her family moved from the family’s Cliff Hill mansion to the larger Crow Nest mansion. The Walkers’ older children, William and Mary, didn’t survive to adulthood but the youngest three siblings did (Elizabeth, Ann, and John). In 1823, Ann’s parents died within a few months of each other and the Walker estate eventually passed to Ann’s younger brother John, when he became of age at twenty-one years old.

In 1828, Elizabeth married George Mackay Sutherland, who was a Captain in the 93rd Regiment of Foot (Sutherland Highlanders). The couple eventually moved to Scotland and settled there. In 1829, Ann’s brother John married Frances Esther Penfold at Steyning. After the marriage, the two embarked on a honeymoon on the Continent, which tragically was cut short when John died in Naples on the 19th of January 1830. Frances returned to England pregnant. Since John died without leaving a will, it became necessary to evaluate to whom his estate would be passed and legal proceedings ensued. Unfortunately, John’s and Frances’ child was stillborn. Ann and Elizabeth then became co-heiresses of the family estate. With Elizabeth in Scotland, Ann’s nearest relation was her elderly Aunt Ann, who lived at Cliff Hill.

During Ann’s union with Anne Lister, she maintained contact with her aunt Ann, whom she visited almost every day. Other cousins, such as the Edwards, the Priestleys, and the Rawsons, sometimes paid Ann social calls or vice-versa. Elizabeth was a frequent correspondent and her daughter Mary, of whom Ann was very fond, visited Yorkshire in the summer of 1837 to spend some time with her aunt.

After Anne Lister’s death and Ann’s subsequent verdict of “unsoundness of mind”, the Sutherlands moved from Scotland to England. Elizabeth eventually died of consumption in London in December of 1844, followed by her daughter Mary just six months later. Captain Sutherland then moved with the family from London to Shibden Hall and they resided there, with Ann, until 1847. Aunt Ann Walker died in October of the same year.

Following Ann Walker’s death, her nephew Evan Charles Sutherland inherited her estate and, per the terms of Ann’s will, he requested permission to use the Walker family name and coat of arms. This was short-lived and, in 1883, Evan and his son William Tudor requested permission from the Crown to stop using the name Walker. Thus, this branch of the Walker family came to an end and its descendants became known solely as Sutherlands.

Notable family members, friends, and acquaintances

The Walker coat of arms. Photo by Marlene Oliveira.
Cliff Hill. Image courtesy of Calderdale Libraries
Crow Nest. Image courtesy of Calderdale Libraries

A timeline of Ann Walker's life

Timeline forthcoming! Check back soon!

Ann in other people's words

“Mentioned Miss W– [Walker] as ‘really a nice girl and I am interested about her’ –”

Anne Lister - 30 October 1832 (SH:7/ML/E/15/0136)

“[Mariana] would see that Miss Walker had more merit than she might perhaps have been led to expect –”

Anne Lister - 2 June 1834 (SH:7/ML/E/17/0040)

“She (A-[Adney]) is a capital traveller – we did a great deal – much more than many would believe, without seeing it – Her being such a good rider, was everything for us – otherwise, I myself should have been afraid for her – our tastes harmonize so well, that, deo volunte, we shall probably be off again as soon as our divers circumstances permit – we really get on admirably –”

Anne Lister - 14 October 1834 (SH:7/ML/E/17/0095)

“I am glad to find that [report] of Adney’s being first dying & then dead had no ground to rest upon, from the account your letter gives you must have brought her back a little Hercules, for no strength less than this world have carried her up the Pic du Midi de Pau.”

Mariana Lawton - 5 December 1838 (SH:7/ML/1037)

Ann Walker in the archives

The largest collections that contain information about Ann Walker are available at the Calderdale office of the West Yorkshire Archive Service. These include:

Ann Walker’s will can be obtained from the National Archives, and the Manchester Central Library.

Other documents connected to Ann Walker are included in the Crow Nest papers, also held at the WYAS. Furthermore, Ann Walker’s commission and inquisition of lunacy can be consulted at the National Archives. 

Ann Walker in media

Other resources

For more information about Ann Walker and the other Walkers, you can check out these resources:


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