May 1838 p. 210

Walker & Lister drinking a bottle. Haven’t found out yet who’s behind the Π (pi) letter in this code, but I’m sure I’ve read it somewhere (probably Mariana Lawton):

We had drunk our bottle of (?) and A(nn) tipsyish without her knowing it and I not inclined for writing – (a line not in code: Mr Moets champagne very good, very fine day F65 at 9.40) – Incurred a cross thinking of Π sitting on chair in my dressing room.

May 1838 p. 192

A tired Lister makes another note on Walker:

A(nn) lay on the sofa. Poorly. Busy getting the boiler to heat water and (?) her… /…/ Then hearing her crying, went to her and gave her cherry brandy. She said her head and neck were bad. She wants more than I can give her. A good strong fellow.

April 1838 p. 141

Anne makes another note on Walker:

Heard her in her room and just went to say I had come to ask her how she was. Poor thing. Her temper had given way and all got right again. All this tiresome wearying work to me, but my mind is made up. I will be the faster (?) or be off (?). She promised to be a good little one and do as I told her. Poor thing. She is little fit to be left to herself.

Dec. 1837 p. 28

Coded entry about Walker. Melvile is probably the Scotish theologian Andrew Melville (1545-1622):

A(nn) came up and because I had got two of Melville’s sermons that she wanted. All wrong and went out in tears. What shall I do with her?

Dec. 1837 page 25

Diary entry in code concerning business of the estate:

As last winter owing to the locality so much wood or the water about should all live well. I am right to take brandy and water at night. A teaspoon full with three or four waters.


Dec. 1837 p. 26

Coded section from December 1837. Lister’s eager to follow her plans for a longer travel abroad. She also hesitate about bringing Walker on this trip. The Sutherlands mentioned in the code were Walkers relatives. Her sister Elizabeth was married to a Sutherland.

A(nns) mind will succumb I must wind up my own attairs and be off. I thought of this yesterday. Let the gardener manage all and make what he can of the garden and land and live in the house. I all owing him for (?) with Washington. Gone (?) July or August and take only Oddy (servant girl) send the carriage back from Leeds to be taken care of at home and Oddy  (?) at (?) for Rotterdam. Then be off to Paris and then……as circumstances may direct  surely at the (?) without (?) or colliery I shall have five hundred a year clear after paying interest and keeping up the place and I could keep up my (?) on this till times (?). I cannot go with poor A(nn) what will the Sutherlands do with her? How melancholy, but it is not my fault. 

March 1837 p. 57

Lister made many coded notes on Walker’s behaviour, this one is from March 1837:

A goodish one last night. She came fondling, said in the midst I had never tire her so little. She had been out of sorts the latter part of dinner. I took no notice at all. Read aloud parts of the paper just as I shall (?) was right and she came round. What temper, I must keep her sufficiently at distance, have her in order and perhaps I shall manage her. I get out of her way now when she is wrong. —

Old photos from Astrakhan

In February 1840 Lister & Walker left Moscow to travel further into the Russian empire. Lister would keep very detailed information about weather conditions and distance between places. She also makes note on the state of condition of cultural places. Most of the time they seem to have followed the Volga river. They also visit the city of Astrakhan.
**Old photos of Astrakhan – This site is in Russian.

***Photos from Astrakhan – From TrekEarth gallery.

Notes on Ann Walker of Lightcliffe

Ann Walker was a close neighbour of Anne Lister, but they didn’t socialize before 1832. They knew of each others existence, but still moved in different circles. Lister and Walker got together in September 1832. Ann was 29 and Lister 41 years old. To old-fashioned and Conservative Tory Lister the Walker family were upcomers with no prestigious heraldic family history like her own. However, the Walkers were pretty successful manufactures and Ann Walker had inherited the family property together with her older sister Elizabeth (1801-1844) in 1830 when the last male heir – a brother died. Compared to the landowning Anne Lister, young miss Walker was indeed a rich girl.

According to a memorial plate in Old St. Matthew’s Church, Ann Walker was born the 20th of May in 1803. She was the youngest daughter of merchant John Walker (1754-1823) and his wife Mary, née Edwards (1763-1823) from Pye Nest. They lived at Crow nest, Lightcliffe.  Not all their children would survive to become adults. There was also a son in the marriage, John Walker who died 26 years old in 1830.

The father was indeed successful with his buisness and the family became one of the most important within that area. The Walker family owned the Crow Nest Mansion and the Cliffe Hill Mansion. The Latin motto of the Walker family was Iustum perficito nihil timeto meaning ‘do what is right and fear nothing’.

Little is known about Ann Walker’s early years and education. In her teens Ann’s mental problems begun to surface and she suffered all her life from depressions. As an adult she’s described as being very shy and withdrawn. Lister often makes notes in code about Ann’s health. She would spend many days in apathy, resting on the sofa, doing nothing. Ann hade also problems with her back. Her depressions also included symptoms of religious mania and perhaps even anorexia. Lister contacted (by mail) Ann Walker’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Sutherland in Scotland in 1834 being concerned about Walker’s mental health.

Lister tried to make a daily schedule for Walker at Shibden Hall which included French studies, drawing lessons and walks. She also consulted Mariana Lawton’s brother Dr. Henry Stephen Belcombe (ca. 1790-1856) on Ann’s health and sometimes sent her to his private asylum in York. To the doctors Lister would sometimes remark that Walker was feeling much better when her bowels were right and when out travelling. While on travel Walker would sometimes do some drawings in Lister’s company.

Ann Walker moved to Shibden Hall to live with Lister in 1834. She sometimes went back to Cliff Hill mansion on her pony to visit her old aunt who still lived there. She also took part in church charity as religion was something very important to her. Walker also started a local school.

The Lister scholars has described their union as a not very happy one. Lister often remark on how tired she is of Ann’s behaviour, yet I still find Lister being very patient with Walker’s heavy mood-swings. For sure Lister was the one who had to manage both household work and estate business and complains about Ann’s lack of initiative. She also wrote many times about being hurted by Ann’s harsh language.

We don’t know what Ann Walker herself thought of the relationship because Ann Walker’s diary hasn’t survived, but even if their relationship had ups-and-downs she choose to stay with Anne to the end. We don’t know what Walker thought of Anne Lister, but it’s clear from Anne’s diaries that Walker seemed to take everything Lister said “for Gospel”. Evidently that she did indeed trust and even admire Lister. Walker’s own strong will may show in the fact that she did hesitate rather than dither about including Lister in her will.

Anne Lister did pressure Walker many times about being included in Walker’s will. Before leaving for their last trip to Russia they seemed to have agreed and during their long stay abroad Walker did connect her accounts to Lister’s. They had lawyers in London to help them with this.  Walker’s decision to bring home the dead Lister from Russia may also reveal a stronger side of her personality. In the newspaper obituary Walker is indeed described as Anne Lister’s friend and companion.

I still haven’t found out why Lister finally agreed to bring Walker on their last trip to Russia. Lister was also a powerful protector of Ann. Little could Ann’s own family members do to end their relation. When left alone Ann’s mental health began to decline and she was finally declared insane and removed by trickery from Shibden Hall. Her Red Room at Shibden Hall was found, according to the visiting policeman in Parker’s memorandum, in an extreme filthy state with papers and bloody napkins over the floor. She also had loaded pistols on the table. The bloody napkins suggests that Ann may have been infected with tuberculosis. Her sister Elizabeth Sutherland had died of the disease in 1844. A description on whatever happened to Ann Walker after the trip to Russia has been given to the public by historian Jill Liddington in the minor research Presenting the Past: Anne Lister of Halifax 1791-1830.  Liddington also quote from Parker’s memorandum concerning Walker’s mental health.

We really don’t know the real circumstances behind the family’s wish to have her declared insane.  I guess the Walkers became eager to have her removed from Shibden maybe wanting her money or fear her mental problems would finally shame the family name in public. She then spent some years in the care of Dr. Belcombe before she was to return for a short time to Shibden Hall. She was later transferred back to her childhood home at Cliff Hill, Lightcliffe where she died on February 25, 1854 at the age of 50 years. During the rest of her life Ann Walker did claim Shibden Hall as her own and she did receive the rents from the estate as promised in Anne Lister’s will. The fact that Anne Lister had left everything to Ann Walker caused much hatred in the Lister’s of Swansea. There was not much good to say about Anne Lister according to them.

When Walker passed away the Lister’s of Swansea finally moved in at Shibden Hall. In her will Ann Walker left all her Lightcliffe estates to her sister Elizabeth’s son on the legal condition that he include his mother’s maiden name (Walker) to his own,  Evan Charles Sutherland (d. 1913). He did so but later dropped the name Walker and sold off the Lightcliffe estates in 1867.

Ann Walker is buried under the pulpit in Old St Matthew’s Church at Lightcliffe.

Ann Walker


Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion (dates and biography). (dates and biography).

Liddington, J. (1994). Presenting the past: Anne Lister of Halifax (1791-1840). Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire: Pennine Pens.

Lister, Anne, and Muriel M. Green. 1992. Miss Lister of Shibden Hall [Halifax] selected letters (1800-1840). Sussex: BG The Book Guild.

Lister, Anne, and Helena Whitbread. 2010. The secret diaries of Miss Anne Lister (1791-1840). London: Virago.

Coded section from Febr. 1833

On page 19 in a diary entry from February 1833:

She had a very good night, the best she has ever had with me and I slept better than I usually do with her. Good deal of cousin (i.e period) but no inconvenience or stains and put I put paper over the soiled towel which afterwards chafed me a little in walking.


September 1833

1833 page 208:

I behave very kindly to her glad enough to see her but should do overly well without her and shall be gladly enough in reality to be without her. She sat on my knee this evening. I tell her she is not ugly (?) and she is well enough inclined to flirt with me but I am very prudent. 

Alan Bray’s chapter on Anne Lister…

I’m looking into Alan Bray’s book The Friend which has an interesting chapter on Lister’s ethics and Religion (p. 261). I’ve often noticed how writers like to comment in favour of Anne’s strong support of the Anglican Church. A further study on Lister and Christianity would be interesting. Especially concerning Walker’s & Lister’s agreement to a very personal form of wedding ceremony at Goodramgate Holy Trinity Church in York. This solitude event took place in Easter 1834  may be the very first recorded gay wedding in British history. Lister wrote about it in her diary, telling about the exchange of rings which probably occurred while the priest was facing the altar or not taking notice. A servant of the Shibden Household was also present.

About clothes…

Anne’s 26yrs and this is a coded section from 1817 diary, PAGE 1. Entry for the 21 of March:

Mending my black silk petticoat and my black worsted stocking.

Things concerning personal clothes, or how to handle and care for personal clothes  are very often put up in code and seldom mentioned directly in the entries.

1840 p. 276

Coded section from 1840:

A[nn] low today, queertempered now since tea and that I have told her the change upon Paris. Why do I ever mention anything on importance to her. Why ever forfeit my ** into fancying her companionable without reserve.

Coded section from the 1837 diary

November 1837 page 399:

A(nn) quite wrong that I had spoken to Mrs **** this morning. Said I very **en consulted her so it endin my not writing tonight.

November 1837 page 400:

I hardly spoke at dinner and came upstairs for twentyfive minutes and soon after my going down she came and said she was sorry for the said (—)

Apr. 1839 p. 20

Lister sometimes made very detailed report on her own health, the health of family members and even in some cases commented on the servants health. These entries are almost always made up in code. Lister makes a remark on Walker’s health in a coded section from April 1839 page 20:

A[nn] had a large loose motion on getting up. Seems rather better. Low last night after getting into bed, but I roused her.

Walker & Lister in Russia

A scene from the last Diary of 1840 page 43. I interpreted the code as following:

A(nn) queerish and I’m patient so shut my door and had no more of her.

A(nn) tolerably right again took not ice on last night. She wrong at my spending the money on (????) them. Her mind is not large as to little matters.

Lister in Russia

Diary entry of November 1839 page 242, a coded section. I’ve not searched too deep into this code string so I don’t know who she’s talking about because it’s not concerning Ann Walker. Probably a Russian lady they’ve met in Moscow:

She said she was struck with me. The feeling mutual [mutual]. I have not praised her more than she liked. She is certainly a charming person. We talked on her health [?] and is gradually (—) 

Old map of Georgia

Anne Lister spent her last 6 months alive on travel in Georgia. Three cities marked with red are Nakalhalevi, Kutaisi in the Middle where Anne died and Tiflis, the old name on Tiblisi. Many places on this map are recorded in Lister’s diary.
Places visited by Lister & Walker in red

May 1839 p. 68

Lister & Walker having a drink:

Had A[nn] bottle of Rheims Champagne Quall between us A[nn] tipsy and lay down I got her a cup of tea too and unloosed her clothes and left her about nine and then slept on the sofa till half past eleven.

Lister’s preparing for travelling abroad

I’m looking into the Diary of 1839 [SH:7/ML/E/23]. In the Month of April Ann Walker seem to have many bad days as Lister has written about Ann’s temper in code. On page 26 there’s a code string telling about Ann preparing a visit to York “and get it done” so they can travel in June or July. Probably it refers to seeing a  doctor. Lister writes a lot of code about Walker’s stomach problems. A code on page 37 reveal Walker on medication: I doubt whether she will take it. She doesn’t like his medicine nor him. Lister & Walker did indeed leave England in the end of June 1839.

April 1838 p. 136

A domestic scene from the 1838 year Diary. Sample of code string:


unluckilyjustbeforeleavin [g]

Rest of the code (not shown here) translated as following:

the dining room laughed and said nobody flattered me so little or scolded me so much as she did. She said I had said enough. She would consider it got wrong from that.

On the Last Months of Anne Lister

1839.06.20: Anne Lister and Ann Walker leave Shibden Hall and Halifax to begin their long journey to Russia. In her diary Anne records that Ann Walker “dreads the journey”. Lister also make a fatal remark, expressed by thoughts in secret code only: “But what does she fear? death?” Little did Anne know then, how prophetic her words would be. It was not Walker who would die – but Anne herself. They first make a stop in London and leave their last Wills with their lawyers. This was important. During their travels Ann Walker’s accounts are connected to Lister’s. Anne kept a separate Travel Journal while visiting several places in Sweden, Norway and Finland before entering Russia. Back in these days Norway was a part of the Swedish Kingdom, Finland was lost to Russia in 1809. Anne’s Russian Passport has survived. These notes show she took a keen interest in the new surroundings – making notes on the Swedish language and history. She also bought a lot of books while abroad. Sadly, all of Anne Lister’s books was sold on auction after her death. She did keep an inventory of all her books.

1839.10.08: Lister & Walker arrive in S:t Petersburg.

1839.10.12: Lister & Walker arrive in Moscow. Anne make a note in her diary that Mrs Howard’s Hotel is “comfy”. I’ve done some research  and found out from a book named  Domestic scenes in Russia, in a series of letters describing a year’s residence in that country, chiefly in the interior, by  Richard L. Venables (1839) that Mrs. Howard’s place is recommended. Venables write: “There is one, however, of which we heard while we were there, kept by an Englishwoman, Mrs. Howard, which we were told was far superior to any of the others in comfort and cleanliness.” (Venables 1839, page 263)

1840.02.05: Lister & Walker leave Moscow to travel further into the Russian Empire. Most of the time they follow the frozen Volga river. They will also visit Astrakhan (Астрахань).

1840.04.09: Travels with Walker in Kobi, Georgia.

1840.04.12: Arrival in Tiflis (Tiblisi), Georgia.

1840.04.29: Lister writes a letter from Tiflis (p. 361 in the Diary)

1840.05.04: Lister writes a letter to Mariana Lawton.

1840.06.20: Lister writes a letter from Tiflis (p.364) Need to check upon this once more!

1840.08.??: Lister’s bitten by a venomous thick, since antibiotics or any other proper medication doesn’t exist to help her fight the infection, Anne Lister’s last illness proved fatal.

1840.08.11: The very last entry in the Diary made by Lister’s hand. I’ve found no information about the last weeks of Anne’s life.

1840.09.22: A Tuesday marks the death of Anne Lister in the city of Kutaisi, Georgia. Even back in these days Kutaisi was a big city in the area. It will take weeks before the news of her death reach Britain. Some weeks before her death while travelling in the Mingrelia region of Georgia its been reported that Anne was bitten by a venomous tick carrying a fever. The venom got into her bloods and caused and infection. She dies of a fever.

I’ve also read that she died of the plague so I’m not sure about the final cause. Sadly, it seem that very little is known about the very last weeks of Anne’s life. After her death in Kutaisi Ann Walker had her body embalmed in Moscow. Perhaps it was intended that ms. Lister should be buried in Moscow, but Ann Walker had her body brought back to England by Constantinople.

In april 1841 its reported in the local paper Halifax Guardian that the body of ms. Anne Lister is buried in the local Parish Church in Halifax. The list of people attending her burial is lost.

To be continued!

Anne Lister of Shibden Hall

Since december 2010 I’ve read a lot about an English gentlewoman named Anne Lister (1791-1840) who kept a 4,000,000 word diary between 1806-1840. She belonged to a well-known landowning family in Halifax. Since the age of 15 Anne Lister wrote almost daily in her diary. Sharing her thoughts on everyday life and her interests. In many aspects she lived a very privileged lifestyle, very different from any other woman’s lifestyle of Regency and pre-victorian days when women had no political rights and was destined for a good match marriage. In many ways Anne Lister did exactly as she wanted to do about deciding her  life and business. She refused marriage and was self-educated. She had ha keen interest in Languages and Maths. With the vicar she studied classical Greek and Algebra. Lister was also fluent in French. Lister read constantly, everything from papers to correspondence.

Her most secret diary entry’s was hidden through the use of a secret alphabet. A code which she also used in her correspondence and letter writing. She developed the code in her late teenage years and they consists of various symbols from Greek alphabet and Algebra. Friend and lover Eliza Raine most certainly had her own copy of Lister’s Code, so had Mariana Lawton (née Belcombe) and possible Isabella Norcliffe (d.1846). I have no info. whether Ann Walker (1803-1854) ever learned about the Code.

The Walker’s lived nearby at Lidgate and also had an impressive estate called Cliff Hill. With no male heirs alive a daughter named Ann Walker had inherited the property. Walker is described as a very shy and withdrawn person. Walker also had  some mental problems and Anne sometimes needed to consult a doctor about her health.  Lister & Walker had known about each other for a long time as neighbours. In 1832 when Ann Walker was 29 and Lister 41 they became lovers. In 1834 they sanctified their union in York and exchanged rings during a communion at Church. According to the information in Lister’s diary they did indeed get married. In September 1834 Walker finally agreed to move in with Lister and living with her at Shibden Hall. This caused much grief among Walker’s relatives.

Also a convinced Anglican, Christianity was important as well as getting up to date with the latest in Theology. She also made comments to the Sermons at the church. Geology wasalso an important interest. While in Paris Anne also studied some anatomy & medicine with a physician who also gave her human remains to study. Anne Lister’s other interests were mountain climbing, walking and riding. She did many unusual things which were not common for women to do. She also played the flute, wore mens bracelets and rode a horse. Gardening and improving her estates around Shibden Hall was also a major interest. One these few pages I intend to give some facts about her life and heritage. Thanks to local historians and serious scholars the life & times of Anne Lister has been preserved and interpreted into our modern age.

Anne Lister was born in Halifax, Western Yorkshire on the 3rd of April 1791. She was the eldest daughter of Jeremy Lister, a military man who served as Lieutenant in the American War of Independence. Her mother was Rebecca Battle, a local woman. Jeremy & Rebecca had many sons but only their daughters Anne & Marian Lister (d. 1882) would survive them. As an adult Anne Lister would do much to promote her ancient family history and improve the estate. Except from her longer travels in Europe and  Russia, Halifax was the town she lived most of her years at the Lister family estate Shibden Hall. She added a tower to the house building and started coal mining to get more money from the estate. She was very proud of her heritage but also very curious person who enjoyed her life and to learn about new things all the time.

In May 2011 I was happy to visit both Halifax and Shibden Hall. You can see some of the photos om my flickr site. I intend to post more on Anne Lister. I do hope the scholary research will continue concerning the life & times of Anne Lister. Including a critical edition of the 27 volumes diary.

A short 10 min. documentary on Lister’s life: