All historical research is prone to inaccuracies and errors due to lack of detail at the time of writing, which may be rectified or clarified when new information comes to light.
The following are statements known to have issues, omissions or cause controversy, and are sometimes found in research references or commonly pop up in online discussions about Anne Lister. The goal is to highlight inaccuracies or problems from dubious interpretation while promoting verifiable sources.
Note: sometimes printing mistakes or typos happen. See Errata at the bottom of this page for those.
The known source or sources of the statement and the issue(s) it may contain are noted along with a reference to a historical document or other concrete evidence of correct or corroborating information. As is the case with all other content presented on this site, as new information emerges, entries may be updated.
The following indicators serve as a short-hand assessment of the extent to which the statement can be considered truthful:
UNVERIFIABLEThe statement can’t be confirmed or refuted due to lack of reliable source of factual information.
FALSEThe statement is not accurate relative to a verifiable and reliable source of facts.
PARTIALLY TRUEThe statement is partly accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.
TRUEThe statement is accurate relative to a verifiable and reliable source of facts and no significant detail is missing.
Anne Lister started to dress in black to mourn Mariana Belcombe’s marriage
Anne asked for her part of her father's inheritance to be given to Marian
This statement is true.
Thus, it is true that Jeremy Lister left all his to Marian after Anne’s request that her part of the inheritance be given to her sister.
 Jeremy Lister’s will (DDBD/93/140)
 Anne Lister’s diary 8 March 1824 (SH:7/ML/E/7/0110)
 Anne Lister’s journal 11 March 1824 (SH:7/ML/E/7/0111)
 Anne Lister’s journal 18 March 1824 (SH:7/ML/E/7/0113)
Fact check by Marlene Oliveira. Updated on 23 December 2020
The Miss Walkers of Cliff Hill are Ann and Elizabeth Walker
This statement is false.
Reading excerpts from Anne Lister’s diaries written pre-1832, it’s easy to assume that the Miss Walkers of Cliff Hill are Ann and Elizabeth visiting their Aunt Ann. In fact, the ladies Anne is referring to are none other than Ann’s aunts, Miss Ann Walker and Miss Mary Walker.
Ann’s father, John Walker, moved with his family to Crow Nest after he inherited the estate from his brother , Mr. William Walker. Thus, both Ann and Elizabeth would be known as “Miss Walker of Crow Nest”. Anne makes this distinction in her diary.
All things considered, it’s safe to say that when Anne mentions the Misses Walker of Cliff Hill in earlier years, she’s very likely referring to Ann’s aunts and not Ann and her sister.
 Lister, Anne. The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister: Vol. 1: I Know My Own Heart: The Inspiration for Gentleman Jack (pp. 24, 115, 138). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle edition.
 Lister, Anne, and Jill Liddington. Female fortune: land, gender, and authority: the Anne Lister diaries and other writings, 1833-36. Rivers Oram Pr, 1998.
 Lister, Anne. Anne Lister’s diary. Vol. 24. (SH:7/ML/E/24/0043)
Fact check by Marlene Oliveira. Updated on 23 December 2020
Anne, Tib, & Mariana were school friends at the Manor School in York.
This statement is unverifiable.
In her book, The Early Life of Miss Anne Lister and the Curious Tale of Miss Eliza Raine (2014), Patricia Hughes states that Tib, Mariana, and Anne were school friends at the Manor School in York. However, there is no known evidence as of yet that the three women would have attended school together. The letters referenced in the book do not point to letters that contain any mention of the women attending school together. The age difference between the three women make it highly unlikely that they would have attended the Manor School in York at the same time.
According to a letter from Tib to Anne dated August 7, 1810, Anne had not yet met Mariana (SH:7/ML/31). If they had not met by 1810, they could not have been school friends on or before 1805.
In 1805, Anne Lister is listed as a pupil at the Manor School in York (SH:7/ML/13) and by 1807 she has left the Manor School and is tutored by Mr. Knight in Halifax (SH:7/ML/E/26/1). In 1805 Anne would have been 14, Mariana 17, and Tib 20 years of age.
Monday 5th July, 1819 Anne writes that Tib and her sisters had a governess in the past, Miss Fryer. A governess served as a live-in tutor for children whose family could afford such a luxury. Although not impossible that they would have attended the Manor School at some point , it is unlikely without verification.
Fact check by Shantel Smith. Updated on 23 December 2020
The door of the Red Room was taken down to remove Ann from Shibden Hall.
This statement is false. This quote implies Ann Walker locked herself in the room to avoid removal and that she was forcibly removed after the doors were taken down from the hinges. There is no evidence of either occurrence, so where does this idea come from?
In her 2017 book, Gentleman Jack: A Biography of Anne Lister, Angela Steidele states:
This statement is not consistent with the documented evidence of how Ann Walker was removed from Shibden Hall, which exists in the form of letters and memoranda from Robert Parker, the Halifax solicitor employed by Captain Sutherland.
According to his memorandum (transcript) dated 9 September 1843 describing what he witnessed at Shibden Hall, Ann Walker had already left when he arrived at 10:30 in the morning with Captain Sutherland.
Captain Sutherland left Shibden for Pye Nest and returned with his wife Elizabeth (Ann’s sister). After hearing about Ann's removal earlier in the day, they decided to enter the Red Room (Ann’s room). Most rooms in the house were locked (including Ann's room) so they asked Jennings, the constable of Southowram, to remove the hinges, which he did.
In conclusion, no doors were taken down to remove Ann Walker away from her home. While doors needed to be taken down at Shibden Hall to access locked rooms for which keys were not available, both events are unrelated.
Fact check by Livia Labate and Marlene Oliveira. Updated on 18 May 2020
Ann Walker was taken to Dr Belcombe’s asylum after she was removed from Shibden Hall.
This statement is false.
In her 2017 book, Gentleman Jack: A Biography of Anne Lister, Angela Steidele writes:
There is no evidence that Ann Walker was taken to Dr. Belcombe’s asylum, Clifton House (or Clifton Green as it is often referred to). There is evidence, however, of her whereabouts at different points in time and clues as to where she might have been. Let’s take a look:
On the 8th of September, the day before Ann’s removal, Dr. Belcombe tells Parker in a letter (transcription), that he has decided to take Ann to Terrace House, which was run by Mrs. Tose in Osbaldwick:
Later records containing Terrace House’s list of patients show Ann being admitted on the 12th of September. No other evidence has emerged yet proving Ann’s actual whereabouts from the 9th to the 12th of September, but Osbalwick is the likely location given Dr. Belcombe’s documented decision.
For a patient to be admitted, two medical certificates are required. One was provided by Dr. Short at the time of Ann’s removal from York on the 9th (see Parker’s memo), and the second was provided by Dr. Goldie (as shown in the list of patients) on the 12th.
It is possible Dr. Goldie wasn’t available to provide the certificate until the 12th or some other reason that caused the delay, but given all available evidence, Ann Walker was most likely at Terrace House in Osbaldwick.
In conclusion, there is no evidence Ann Walker went to Clifton House after she was removed from Shibden Hall.
Fact check by Marlene Oliveira and Livia Labate. Updated on 20 July 2020
Charles outlived Mariana.
This statement is false. In her 2017 book, Gentleman Jack: A Biography of Anne Lister, Angela Steidele states:
This is not consistent with the information in Charles' death records.
According to the England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index information via FreeBMD/Ancestry.com (paid access), Charles Bourne Lawton died on 7 February 1860 at Lawton Hall, in Cheshire, while Mariana Lawton (née Belcombe), died at Belsize Park, London over 8 years later, on 31 October 1868.
In short, Mariana outlived Charles, not the other way around. Both outlived Anne Lister (who died while traveling in Russia in 22 September 1840) by two decades.
Fact check by Shantel Smith. Updated on 19 May 2020
The entry for Saratov induces the reader in error by listing Anne’s and Ann’s arrival there as “March 3 Saratov”. This is incorrect. Anne and Ann reached this city on the 28th of February 1840 and left the town on the 3rd of March, per Anne's journal.
The entry for Sarepta induces the reader in error. Anne and Ann reach this town on the 5th of March and only leave on the 7th of March and not on the 6th, as the timeline states.
The entry for Astrakhan induces the reader in error. Anne and Anne left the city on the 22nd of March and not on the 21st, as Ramsden mentions.
The entry for Kizlyar induces the reader in error. Anne and Anne left the city on the 29th of March and not on the 30th, as Ramsden mentions.
The entry for Vladikavkas induces the reader in error. Per Anne's journal, Anne and Anne left the city on the 8th of March and not on the 7th, as Ramsden mentions.
In Gentleman Jack: A Biography of Anne Lister, Angela Steidele claims that Anne met the Calmuck Prince at Tumen using a letter of introduction of Professor Kasembeck from Kazan. The journal pages around this event, however, don’t mention that letter. No letter from Prof Kazembeck to this Prince is mentioned in the pages from Kazan.
In Jill Liddington’s Female Fortune (pp 5), Anne Lister siblings are listed in order of birth, however Marian should be second to last before Jeremy, who was the youngest. Additionally, there is another Lister missing: an infant, sibling of Anne Lister, who was buried at the Minster in April 1806 (WYAS, SH:7/ML/E/26/1/0036).