• From Anne’s diary, Friday 10th August 1832 (age 42)

    [The first time that Anne Lister put her thoughts in writing about the possibility of courting Ann Walker, the young heiress who lived at Lidgate in the neighbourhood of Shibden.]

    ‘… Thought I, as I have several times done of late, shall I try & make up to her?’

  • From Anne’s diary, Sunday 5th January 1834 (age 43)

    [After eighteen months of an on-and-off courtship, Anne was unsure about whether or not there could be a permanent relationship between them.]

    ‘…Miss W[alker] talks as if she would be glad to take me – then if I say anything decisive she hesitates to. I tell her it is all her money which is in the way. The fact is, she is as she was before [i.e. indecisive], but determined to get away from the Sutherlands and feels the want of me. But [I need to] take someone with more mind and less money. Steph [Belcombe – i.e. Mariana’s brother] is right: she would be a great pother [sic]. [I] have nothing serious to say to her – she wants better manning than I can manage.’

    [See also Jill Liddington’s Female Fortune. Rivers Oram Press. 1998. p.85.]

Anne Lister and same-sex marriage

One of the hottest topics of the day in the gay community is that of same-sex marriages. Almost two hundred years earlier Anne Lister, in the two serious relationships of her adult years, firstly with Mariana Lawton and then with Ann Walker, tried to emulate, so far as was possible, the rituals performed in the heterosexual world.

Making vows to each other, exchanging rings and, most importantly, taking the sacrament at the altar together. In the early spring of 1834 Anne and her partner Ann Walker were paying a visit to friends in York. They had just become newly engaged …

‘Miss W[alker] & I are positively engaged.’ [Journal entry 27.3.1834]

On Sunday 30th March they attended the morning service at Holy Trinity Church in Goodramgate, York and stayed on to take the Sacrament together, thus, in Anne’s eyes, completing the rituals necessary for their marriage to be deemed valid. The little medieval church of the Holy Trinity is an oasis of calm amid the bustling streets of the city of York. Nestling quietly in its hallowed spot, the little church has slumbered its way through six centuries of history but in recent years there has been a spark of interest which adds an intriguingly romantic story to its history.

The church is becoming an icon for what is being interpreted as the site of the first lesbian marriage to be held in Britain – and for that we have to thank the journals of Anne Lister, the ‘Regency dyke’ who has been hailed as the first modern lesbian.

This entry was posted in blog. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>