The Lister Family

Lister family portrait

The building which is now Wilberforce House Museum was built in the 17th century by the Lister family. The original building dated from around 1590 when John Lister acquired a plot of land on the High Street.

The Lister Family


The Lister family were known lead merchants and the house looked onto the River Hull. At this time these plots were used as quays, known as staithes. Ships would dock along the River Hull adjacent to the High Street. John Lister was married to Anne, daughter of Robert Gayton and his family would have lived and traded on site.

John Lister served on the Hull Corporation (old council) and became an Alderman (senior councillor). He was Mayor of Hull in 1592 and 1612 and served as Member of Parliament for the town in 1612.

The Lister Flagons

John's Son


After John Lister's death in 1616, his son, also John followed in his father's footsteps. He was Mayor of Hull in 1618 and 1629 and became Member of Parliament in 1620 until his death in 1640. He was knighted in 1632. As the Lister family became more prestigious they were granted a coat of arms and they purchased a country estate at South Frodingham. The coat of arms and a portrait of Sir John Lister are displayed in the Banqueting Room in Wilberforce House Museum.

Charles I visit


In 1639 King Charles I stayed in the house on this site. The King was'sumptuously entertained' by the Lister family. Only three years later the King was refused entry to Hull, marking the start of the English Civil War. Sir John Lister did not live to see this significant act of defiance to the monarch.