Anne Lister at The National Archives

When this blog existed as a website (many years ago), I had posted some of Anne Lister’s comments, as one of the Visitors to the Ladies of Llangollen at Plas Newydd. I never re-linked all of the extended pages. Of course Anne’s own words can be read in the book I Know My Own Heart (edited by Helena Whitbread; 1988).

An extract is listed, with thanks to Michael in Aberystwyth, in A Plas Newydd Timeline, which features visitor and other comments from the 1780s to the 1830s and beyond. Hover over the menu link (above) for a drop down menu, by date. Anne Lister’s comments are under ‘1820-1824‘; she visited Llangollen in the summer of 1822.

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With the popularity of the TV series Gentleman Jack, featuring Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, The National Archives, in Kew, have blogged about their holdings of Lister-related documents.

I will do as they did – and say SPOILER ALERT! – for anyone finding their way here because of the TV series. We deal with the inevitable ‘end,’ for TNA holds the handwritten wills of Anne Lister and Ann Walker. Their blog post will also ‘catch you up’ on some of the backstory, Anne’s years before Gentleman Jack.

Anne Lister

A caveat to keep in mind, not specifically mentioned in TNA’s blog post: At the time, if a woman married her property became the property of her husband. In leaving Ann Walker Shibden Hall for her lifetime, Anne Lister would NOT have wanted the property to devolve to anyone Ann Walker decided to share her own wealth with.

  • (A marriage settlement might have stipulated, if both parties agreed, to separate out the property. But who would take that chance?)

I have a couple of old wills, original wills, related to my research of the family of Emma Austen and Mary Smith. Folded, they look JUST LIKE those pictured in TNA’s blog! It’s thrilling to see Anne and Ann’s ‘last wishes’ represented, and to know The National Archives has such a cache of originals (probated wills are my bête noire; some are horrible to decipher due to the hand used, and swirls inserted to cover ‘blank’ space; while microfilm also does them NO favor).

I believe the link the blog provides – going to PROB 11, whereby you can purchase (for £3.50) a PDF download, rather than PROB 10 – brings you to the PROBATED copy, not the original of Ann Walker’s will. The blog does provide one photograph (alas: can’t enlarge it!) of a section of Anne Lister’s will.

Like my own research materials at The National Archives, other items exist because of a dispute. You will be amazed over the “end” of the story…

Note also their link to the DIGITAL copies of Anne Lister’s diaries, online (since April 2019) at West Yorkshire Archive.

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