Eliza Raine
"Miss Lister likes trouble"

Eliza Raine - "the most beautiful girl I ever saw"

Like Anne, Eliza Raine was born in 1791; they met at the Manor School, York, in 1804, when they were 12 or 13. Eliza was the daughter of an East India Company surgeon, one of two daughters born to his Indian wife. In 1800 James Raine became seriously ill, and left his wife and daughters to return to England, having made provision for them in his will before he left. He died before reaching home. An East India Company colleague, William Duffin of York, became one of Raine's trustees. On hearing of the Raine girls' situation, he sailed for India in order to bring Eliza and her elder sister Jane to England, and they arrived in 1802. After two years in a London school, both girls moved to York under the Duffins' guardianship. At the beginning of 1804 both started at the Manor School; Jane living with the Duffins and Eliza a boarder at school.

Anne had been given a room of her own at the top of the building - possibly because she was considered too disruptive to share a dormitory with the other girls. Eliza, although well educated and ladylike, was a problem for the school: she was of mixed race with dark skin, an orphan, and, under English law, illegitimate, as her parents' marriage had not been registered outside of India. The two difficult girls shared a room, and a bed. The relationship soon turned sexual, and before 1804 was over they had pledged themselves to each other as husband and wife.

In 1806 Anne left the Manor School - whether she was expelled or left for other reasons is not certain. It has been suggested that she had to leave because of her relationship with Eliza; in any case she returned after Eliza had finished her studies. Eliza spent the summer of 1806 with Anne in Halifax, returning to York on 11 August. She returned to Halifax in 1808, spending the summer with the Listers again. Both girls' diary entries suggest that the summer was happy, but after Eliza returned to York in November, Anne was turning noticeable cooler towards Eliza. Eliza's feelings, however, had not changed, writing: "How my heart throbs for thee. Here I turn my eyes to my bed. This I hope after a few years... you will share with me". "after a few years" is a reference to the fact that Anne had already put off their living together for ten years.

Anne's brother John died of influenza in Halifax in January 1810. Eliza had left the Manor School at the end of the previous year, and Anne arranged to return, living in Eliza's room at the Duffins in York. Eliza wnet to live with her cousin, a Lady Crawfurd, in Doncaster. Eliza and her cousin did not get on; this only made the pain of separation from Anne worse. In a letter in May Eliza writes to Anne mentioning a "Miss Norcliffe". This is Isabella Norcliffe, a new friend Anne had met in York; the meeting marks the beginning of the end of Anne & Eliza's intimate relationship.

From about this time onwards Eliza's life seems to spiral out of control. She turned down - at Anne's request - an offer of marriage from an eligible naval officer, Captain John Aleaxnder of Halifax. She gradually bcame more and more irrascible, falling out with various people in her social circle. She particularly took against Miss Marsh (who would become the second Mrs Duffin), eventually falling out with Mr Duffin himself. In 1813 Anne's brother Sam drowned in Ireland: Eliza had been very close to him and his death affected her relationship with Anne's family in Halifax. Anne became more and more distant as she pursued her connections with Isabella Norcliffe and Mariana Belcombe; Eliza became isolated and felt completely betrayed by Anne. From the end of 1814 and through 1815 her mental state declined; she was admitted several times to Dr Belcombe's (Mariana's father) asylum.

In 1816 Eliza was permanently committed to Dr Belcombe's asylum. Anne continued to visit her intermittently until her death in 1840.

The Belcombes' asylum closed in 1853 when the younger Dr Belcombe, Mariana's brother, retired. Eliza was moved to a house[1] in the village of Osbaldwick, North Yorkshire, with her nurse. She died there on New Year's Eve, 1860, without friends or relatives. She was 68.

Eliza is buried in St Thomas Churchyard, Osbaldwick.


Footnotes: 
[1] I believe this to be "Terrace House", run by Elizabeth Tose. It is the same house that Ann Walker moved to in 1843 after leaving Shibden.
Page updated 5-Oct-2020
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