Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1836

Monday 10 October 1836

Aunt Anne’s death

Someone in one of the Facebook groups I’m a member of was wondering how Anne Lister reacted to the death of her beloved aunt Anne, and I ended up reading and transcribing the diary entry. It’s a long one and a very sad one.

Here it is:

No kiss. Very rainy morning. Ready in ¾ hour. As long as if I had regularly undressed & dressed again.[1] But I [nevertheless?] washed & made myself comfortable as well as I could & changed my pelisse. Went to my aunt at 8 20. The house maid had sat up till 4 a.m. & Oddy had had no sleep. My aunt had been restless aIl the night & had been up 3 times since I had left her. Still restless & would be got up 3 times from my going to her at 8 20 to my going down to breakfast at 9 10. I had lifted her into bed again the 1st of the 3 times without her seeming incommoded. The 2nd & 3rd times Oddy thought it best for one to lift her shoulders while the other raised her legs. After the 3rd time of getting up she seemed so exhausted I thought she was gone but she rallied before I went to breakfast. Perhaps I was so much as 20 minutes at breakfast. Frith the glazer brought his bill…

“Shibden Hall, Monday evening 10 Oct 1836. Surely my dearest Lady Stuart you are still with Vere and I hope, much the better for all her kind attention & for the change of air. I trust the weather had been better with you the with us & that you at least, & those around, you have not suffered from this sickly season. You will not be surprised to hear that my poor dear aunt is no more. For the last week her suffering have seemed to decrease with her strength and she expires at five minutes past one this afternoon, so quietly that I was hardly hardly aware of it at the moment. My greatest anxiety is removed. Its removal is a blessing to her, but with me it leaves a strange feeling of bereavement. Vere will excuse my writing just now. You will tell her that I am well, and always & [yet?], Lady Stuart, very truly & very affectionately yours, A Lister.”

…for the lead piping (the 2nd batch) and A- paid him £59.11.0 in gold including one £5 county note. I had [illegible] John Booth at nine for Mr Jubb and he came about 10 or 10 10. My aunt had been up while I was at breakfast and was getting up again as I went back into the room at 9 ½, but Oddy & I lifted her gently back into bed & she soon became more settled. By 10 she seemed quiet and composed & Mr Jubb as he sat by her bedside said (at 10 20) that her pulse was gone. Her feet were getting cold. I told him she was warm all over an hour before. She never attempted to get out of bed after 10. Mr Jubb sat by her ¼ hour or 20 minutes. Tried to give her brandy & water but she could not swallow it. He said if we could keep her mouth moist it would be a relief to her but what could we do? The last thing she took & that with difficulty was a [jelly?] about noon just.

I took Mr Jubb down to see A-. Much better. Now wants good nourishing things to get up her strength. Cookson better, going on well. Must take bark (quinine). Sarah the kitchen maid not so well this morning. Much fever. Very lucky we sent her home. At 10 50 Oddy called me (Matty had been with my aunt ever since 9 ½ a.m.). She & Matty thought my aunt going. Mr Jubb went up with me & stayed till 10 55 when I said that if he could do no good I would not detain him. He thought my poor aunt could not continue very long. She breathed again & continued breathing rather short but [illegible] [illegible] & not very loud.

A- called me down about 12 ½ to speak to Mr Husband. The hall closet door had come open & left the wine to the mercy of workmen. Mr Husband helped me to move the 19 bottles left there of the York port, which I put in the store room. I had just done when A- came for me and I was just in time to see my poor aunt in her last moment of life in the world. It was just 5 minutes from my return upstairs to her breathing her last at 1 5 p.m. For an instant her mouth had an expression of pain but that expression was gone & when the last breath escaped there was a slight catch but no groan or ‘sigh.’ The last intelligible words were last night, “I don’t know what to do,” and this morning I think it was “I must go out.” My aunt had spoken several times yesterday evening & this morning but not intelligibly.

I should suppose she had not more pain than must necessarily accompany the increasing difficulty of breathing as I think [appreh?]. Her countenance was tranquil when the vital spark was gone. Matty was at dinner & only Oddy & I present. My aunt reminded me of my aunt Martha. I went into the room at 6 50 p.m. with Matty. The knees were not quite straight nor the lips closed. The latter could not close for the upper teeth. It was the same with my aunt Martha.

A- had sat by me some time this morning in my aunt’s room but did not stay while Mr Jubb was there. She has exerted herself & done very well. Took her out & we walked on the flags ¼ hour till 2. Then had Mr Husband. Gave orders for the hall to be boarded up & made decent by Saturday afternoon. The funeral to be on Monday. Then had Robert Mann (Robert + 4 [men] today) in the garden & gave him orders for tomorrow. The gardener & Hemmingway the [Wyskum?] [2] gardener who came to speak to me just morning. Had begun this morning taking off the sod from the untended back Lodge road. Told Robert to look after [garden?], to see that the road was right set out etc etc. I [illegible] him & his man & boy at topping up the dry arch walls. Mark Hepworth & 13 [men?], 2 one-horse carts carting stuff [illegible] for the hall floor & from near the west tower.

From 2 50 to 4 walked (up & down from the hut to [opposite?] chain [illegible]) then in the walk musing. I remembered my feelings on the loss of my uncle, & that of my father is quite recent, but my aunt is the last of the last generation. She was always good and kind to me. None will ever think so highly of me. None was more interested in my interest. None . . . . . I thought till the tears started, My head begun to ache & I came in to write letters. Changed my pelisse etc. A few minutes with A-. At my desk at 4 50 & wrote quickly the letter to Lady S- (vid line 4 it seq of the last page). Then went & sat by A- and wrote the other 3 letters with less care because she talked to me.

“Shibden Hall, Monday evening 10 October 1836. I think my dearest Mary I have not yet thanked you for your kind useful letter of the 22nd of last month. I remember you told me you were going into [place name – D…] on the 27th ult. & would not be very long away. I should at any rate have given you a fortnight. Perhaps you have at the moment the house full of company. Ours is again in mourning. My aunt’s sufferings seem to have decreased with her strength for the last week; yet the fatal change did not possibly appear to be taking place till about noon yesterday, from which time to about mine this morning she was restless, without however seeming to be in great pain. From about 10 she was very quiet & at five minutes after one breathed last so gently that I would not at the moment quite certain she was gone & that her place should know her no more. The last of the last generation is now swept away. Mary! You and I and those we love must now stand forever[?] in the gap. You know how good & kind my poor aunt always was to me. She has not lived to profit by the alterations [3] begun so soon on her account & at her own request. The house is in sad uproar. This makes it look most lonely[?] & casts a deeper shadow over our bereavement. We shall expect you at the end of the month. Surely we shall then be more about to give you the common[?] comforts of home. Cookson is laid up. The kitchen maid is gone away ill. The house keeper we had hired died. Did I not tell you? Very suddenly a few days before she out to have come. So I bless you, Mary. Always very respectfully & affectionately yours, A L-.”

“Shibden Hall, Monday evening 10 Oct 1836. My dear Marion. You would suppose for my not writing again that my aunt continued much in the same state as when I wrote to you last. Her sufferings appeared to decrease with her strength; but we had no reason to suppose she might not have continued longer, till about yeseterday noon or afternoon, when her strength seemed failing faster than it had done before. She took a [jelly?] at noon with difficulty, the last thing she did take. She had a restless night but did not seem to be in great pain. From 8 to 10 this morning she would be got out of bed half a dozen times. After this she became more quiet & breathed her last at 5 minutes past one, so gently that I was not quite certain at the moment that all was over. The sad state of confusion the house is in only adds to our melancholy. Our [remembrances?] to your friend & love to you & believe me my dear Marion always affectionately yours, A L-“

“Shibden Hall, Monday evening 10 October 1836. My dearest Isabella. After my aunts long & severe suffering you will not be surprised to hear of her release. She has been rapidly losing strength for the last week and this afternoon at five minutes past one expired so gently I was scarcely aware at the moment that all was over. The sad confusion the house is in only adds to our melancholy. Alas! She [failed?] when the alterations were so [h..?] on, has not lived to benefit by them! We should have asked you to come now but we have hardly room for ourselves, or people to do the work we are in absolute need of. Cookson is laid up. The kitchen maid is gone home ill. The house keeper is dead. We have only the strange, that is the newly-come house maid & a char woman. We are expecting Mrs Lawton at the end of the month, if we can manage it. Can you tell us of any trustworthy person to come & help us. Give my love to Mr & Mrs Duffin & tell them of our trouble. My great anxiety is gone but it is a great bereavement. Love to Charlotte Ever very faithfully & affectionately yours A L-“

At 6 50 I had sealed & given A- for the letter bag my letters to “The Honorable Lady Stuart, Bradfield House, Oulney, Bucks,” to “Mrs Lawton, Lawton Hall, Lawton, Cheshire,” to “Miss Marian Lister, Market Weighton,” and to “Miss Norcliffe, Petergate, York.” Went with Matty Pollard into my aunt’s room for 10 minutes. How changed since morning! Said Matty “a more respected Lady did not live anywhere here.” All looked solemn. I might have said “It is good for us to be here.”

It is a relief to me to have written my journal. Dinner at 7, coffee upstairs from 8 ½ to 9 55. Wrote all but the copy of the letter to Lady S-. Such I wrote before 6 ¾. Very rainy morning. Fair but damp by 10. Very heavy shower. Better 11 & 12 or about 12. Very showery morning, fine in afternoon from about 1 p.m. A little rain in the evening about 7 p.m. & afterwards. F49o at 10 p.m. Note last night printed circular from Mr [I..?] [Highley?], by order of the committee to arrange a meeting on the 14th of the subscribers in aid of the church rate to determine as to the disposal of the balance of the subscriptions.

[1] She had gone to bed in her clothes the previous night so she would be ‘ready to get up at any moment.’

[2] Wyskum or Wiskum Cottage was a property on the Lister estate.

[3] Alterations to the house

You can see the original diary pages here:

2 thoughts on “Monday 10 October 1836

  1. I have just read this again since you originally transcribed it. Very sad time for AL. The same as losing a mother one supposes. She sounds her ever practical self even in times of bereavement however. Thanks for transcribing it.

    1. You’re welcome. This is indeed a very sad journal entry. 20 August 1823 is another one that brings a tear to my eye.

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