With a general election in January, Anne Lister needed to keep a sharp eye on her enfranchised tenants. Especially in the new Halifax constituency, every vote counted. She extracted every single Halifax vote that she could. Her Blue candidate, Wortley, won by just one single vote. The reaction of the Whig and the Radical mob was quite violent. Later it became known as ‘the window-breaking election’. There were protests about the legality of the tactics used by Wortley’s supporters. Anne and Ann, up at Shibden, were not immune. The West Riding newspapers printed among their marriage announcements that of Captain Tom Lister to Miss Ann Walker. Anne took this public lampooning in her stride; but Ann found it more difficult. Meanwhile, Anne continued with her coalmining developments at Shibden. High up, isolated Walker pit (named in honour of Ann) would always be small-scale; below Shibden, however, Anne planned her larger and more ambitious Listerwick pit. And she did not stop there: she wanted to obtain a licence for Northgate, the imposing house in Halifax she had inherited. She wanted to run it as a profitable town-centre inn (then known as a ’casino’).
Bouyed up by a loan from Ann, Anne Lister now had a rush of entrepreneurial energy, employing male experts on her estate and consulting them about a water-wheel at Listerwick. With such a burst of economic activity at Shibden, local tongues again wagged about how exactly she was funding it all. This was heightened when their coalmining rivals, the Rawsons, stirred up local opposition. This involved accusations of poisoning a well at Water Lane mill on the industrial edge of Halifax, inherited by Ann Walker. Stories reached Shibden that ‘Mr Rawson set the people on…and the people burnt Ann and me in effigy’. Matters grew even more torrid when Anne Lister was told that Rawson’s men had been burning devil’s dung, to smother her master miner out of the Walker pit.
After the death of their brother, Ann Walker and her sister Elizabeth had inherited the large and sprawling Crow Nest estate. The division of their property was always going to be complex. Especially when Captain Sutherland, Elizabeth’s husband, grew suspicious of Anne Lister’s motives in dividing the estate. Luckily, the transactions were handled by smooth-talking lawyers. September ended with a public stone-laying ceremony at Anne’s Northgate Casino in Halifax. Given the recent newspaper lampooning, this was a brave move. It went off without incident, and helped establish a public respectability for Anne and Ann’s relationship. But of course, behind some of the smiles, real tensions remained.
Anne Lister’s cash-flow problems meant that investments on the Shibden estate had to in part rely on Ann Walker’s comparative wealth. But Ann was upset by this and cried. Why should she be expected to cover so much expense for Shibden (like a carriage and male servants’ formal livery)? Anne’s diary might note that ‘the less I pother my head about her the better’; but her account book told a different story, with Anne still dependent on borrowing money from Ann.
Anne’s elderly father, Jeremy Lister, grew weaker. Sitting by his death-bed, friction mounted between the two sisters. After he died, it was of course Anne who organized the formal funeral with all its required ceremony. They then visited York, for help from their lawyer in tidying up the complex final details in the wills of both Anne and Ann. Then, within days of their father’s death, Marian Lister departed from Shibden for good. Anne’s focus was on the two wills, rather than on saying goodbye to her irksome sister.