Ann Raney was born in Whitehaven, England, a daughter of John Raney, a prosperous landowner and banker. Her father went bankrupt and traveled to Texas in 1829 to make a new start. Ann, her mother, and sister joined him in 1832, after a harrowing sea voyage during which pirates attacked and ransacked their ship. Both her parents died within a few months after the family was reunited. In Texas, Ann participated in the battle of Velasco between the settlers and Mexico, making bullets and patches and carrying the supplies 15 miles on horseback. In 1833, she married John Thomas, a cotton planter with whom she had several children, and lived with him on his plantation. During the Runaway Scrape in 1836, the couple fled to Louisiana, where Thomas was hired to oversee the Bayou Grosse Tete plantations and Ann was put in charge of allotting clothing and provisions to the slaves. After several years, the Thomases bought their own plantation at Pointe Coupee on the Mississippi. After her husband died in 1847, Ann was forced to accept a loan from John Coleman, a local storekeeper, to prevent the plantation from being sold. Coleman pressured her into marrying him a few months later. He proved a shiftless and abusive husband who ran the estate into debt, and then it was sold. They went to New Orleans, where Coleman abandoned Ann, and she took a job as a hotel housekeeper to support herself and her daughter.
After a fruitless trip back to her homeland seekings funds in 1854, she rejoined Coleman in Texas for a year and supported the family by sewing. In 1855, she divorced Coleman and moved to Matagorda, where she kept school, and then to Lavaca. Caught up in the Civil War and plagued by poverty, Ann spent the remaining years of her life moving from town to town, wherever she could get a job as a teacher or housekeeper. In the 1870s and 1880s she compiled a history of her life at the urging of her sister's daughter, Alice Smith; it was edited and published in 1970 as Victorian Lady on the Texas Frontier: The Journal of Ann Raney Coleman.