Elizabeth Sunderland, née Walker wrote her will in 1842; it can be found in her son-in-law’s (Stansfeld) family archive in Wakefield.1
Elizabeth Sutherland died on December 28, 1844, leaving husband George Mackay Sutherland and four surviving children: Mary (who would die the following year), Elizabeth (1832-1872), Ann Walker “Annie” (1837-1917), and Evan Charles (1835-1913), the eventual heir to the Walker Estates.
She was buried on January 5, 1845 in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church in Wimbledon, then in Surrey, now in the London Borough of Merton. The church at St Mary’s was completed in 1843, and is the fourth to stand on the site; there has been a church there since the 11th century. St Mary’s is a magnificent early-Victorian church built in the English Gothic Revival style, and is well worth a visit.
Several of Ann Walker’s Dyson cousins are also buried in the churchyard. See this blog for more details: https://insearchofannwalker.com/anns-aunts-uncles-and-cousins/.
John Walker Senior’s will
John Walker senior, Elizabeth, Ann and John’s father, died in 1823. His will stipulated that in the absence of a male heir Elizabeth would inherit the Crow Nest estate while Ann would have Cliff Hill. (Both would additionally inherit many and various other “Messuages, Dwelling Houses, Cottages, Tenements, Closes or Parcels of Land or Ground” that would otherwise have gone to brother John, but Crow Nest and Cliff Hill were the major assets.)
Elizabeth’s personal wealth came from her inheritance of the Walker estates, which she famously shared with sister Ann on the death of their brother in 1830. John Walker died intestate and without an heir, so the division of the estate depended on the terms of their father’s will. The division of the real estate was made according to Elizabeth and Ann’s father’s will, as this February-1830 letter from William Priestley to George Sutherland shows:
“[…] the entail will now take effect, the Crownest Estate devolving to your Wife and the Cliffhill Estate to Ann […] under these circumstances, all [John junior] Walker’s Real Estates that are not entailed, as well as his Personal Property will devolve upon your Wife, and Ann Walker, as Co-heiresses“
(Excerpt from blog by Leila Straub: insearchofannwalker.com/my-dearest-elizabeth)
(John Walker the younger’s personal property did not devolve to the co-heiresses, but to his widow, Fanny Penfold Walker. The story of her feud with the Walker sisters is described in this blog by Caroline Maillard: https://insearchofannwalker.com/frances-penfold-walker/.)
John Walker’s will explicitly stated that, whether or not a male heir should survive, Elizabeth would inherit New House in Lightcliffe (the house occupied by William and Eliza Priestley in 1832), “the Sum of One thousand Pounds (part of my Stock in the Calder and Hebble Navigation)” and a total of £7,000 to be received in yearly installments between the ages of 21 and 26. (Ann was left the same amount of cash and stock on exactly the same terms.)
John Walker also made provision for any children of both Elizabeth and Ann:
“[…] the Sum of three thousand Pound[s] of lawful money of Great Britain for the portion or Portions of all and every or any of the Children of my said Daughter Elizabeth lawfully to be begotten (not being any of them an eldest or only Child for the time being in entitled to the said Hereditaments for an Estate tail in possession or in remainder expectant upon the decease of my said Daughter Elizabeth [Ann])”
Elizabeth had married George Sutherland in 1828, and she came into possession of the Crow Nest estate after the death of her brother John in 1830. Her father’s will stipulated that the stock in the Calder and Hebble Navigation and the New House property would be for “her own Sole separate and peculiar use and benefit exclusive of any Husband and without being liable to his controul debts or engagement“. From Elizabeth’s will, we can see that her father’s directions were followed, and it seems that she maintained full control of everything she inherited before her marriage, but on her marriage signed over everything she might inherit afterwards to her husband.2
On her marriage, Elizabeth had transferred, “with the consent of the said George Mackay Sutherland,” the Calder and Hebble Navigation stock into a trust administered by brother John Walker, cousin William Priestley, and George Lewis Sinclair of Edinburgh, who was George Sutherland’s cousin.
Elizabeth wrote her will in January 1842; the only assets referred to are New House and the stock in the Calder and Hebble Navigation, which was then worth £2,816.13.5. On her death, this stock was to be transferred into a trust administered by “my said Husband George Mackay Sutherland my dear Sister Ann Walker and my friend Robert Parker“. Elizabeth only makes one non-family bequest, to Hannah Heap: “during the natural life of my faithful servant Hannah Heap with and out of the said interest dividends and annual proceeds of the said trust monies stocks funds and securities levy and raise the annual sum of ten pounds“. (Ten pounds is only about 1,000 inflation-adjusted pounds today, but actually represented approximately 40% of the annual income of a skilled manual worker in 1841.)
Read all about Hannah here: insearchofannwalker.com/hannah-heap-not-just-a-servant
Elizabeth stipulated that on her husband’s death, her personal assets (i.e. New House & associated lands and the Calder and Hebble Navigation stock) would be put into a new trust, naming “my present and future born child and children” as beneficiaries, with each to receive their share on reaching their majority, or, in the case of daughters, on marriage should they marry under that age. She stipulated that her children would all own New House as tenants in common, meaning that on the death of any of them, ownership would automatically pass to any survivors.
Elizabeth’s decision to leave New House to all her children as tenants in common affected another bequest of her father’s will: the £3,000 to be shared by all her children other than the inheritor of New House – but as she had decided to divide the real estate between all her children rather than just the eldest, she stipulated that “I have the power of charging with the payment of the sum of three thousand pounds which power I do not intend to exercise“.
And like her father before her, Elizabeth made sure that these assets would be to her daughters’ “sole and separate use and benefit (independently and exclusively of any husband) she may marry and without being in any wise subject to his debts controul or engagements“.
As mentioned above, the administrators of Elizabeth’s Calder and Hebble Navigation stock trust were brother John Walker, cousin William Priestley, and husband George Sutherland’s cousin George Lewis Sinclair.
George Lewis Sinclair (1802-1876) was the son of George Sutherland’s maternal aunt Johanna McKay. Johanna married James Sinclair, 11th Laird of Forss, in 1801. George became the 12th laird and in 1828 married his 17-year-old cousin Janet (Jessie), daughter of William Sinclair Wemyss of Southdun.3 Janet was the brother of David Sinclair Wemyss, who would go on to marry Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth in 1850.
Elizabeth’s will was witnessed by “Thomas Adam of Halifax Solicitor – Sarah Haswell Cook to Mr Parker Sol[icito]r Halifax“.
Thomas Adam was born in 1800 to Halifax ironmonger William Adam and Alice Lister (1773-1812). He was in partnership with Robert Parker as Adam & Parker in Halifax and worked for both Ann Walker and Anne Lister. He was a member of the Halifax Literary and Philosophical Society, and most likely a philanthropist, being a subscriber to “The Oastler Liberation Fund”.4 (Richard Oastler opposed the Poor Law Amendment of 1834 and as a result found himself in a debtor’s prison from 1840-1844). Thomas Adam died in 1873.
In 1841 the census records Sarah Haswell as living in Robert Parker’s house Barum Top as a female servant. By 1851 she is 42 and Robert Parker’s Clare Hall housekeeper. If the recorded census details are correct, she must have been born around 1809, in Kirkby Stephen (then in Westmoreland, now in Cumbria). Robert Parker died in 1856, and in 1861 the census places unmarried Sarah, now 51, at 15 Lister Lane, the only permanent resident. We don’t know when she died.
When Elizabeth died in 1844 the designated heir to Walker estates, her brother John, was dead, and she and Ann had become co-heiresses to all the Walker property. We know that on her marriage in 1828 – before John Walker died – she signed an indenture that transferred her property to her husband. Crucially, this transfer did not include assets she had inherited before her marriage, and her will gives detailed instructions on how her personal wealth should be distributed. The instructions are very clear that the assets should be shared equally between her children, and that her daughters’ share should be to their benefit “exclusive of any Husband“. She even went as far as to disregard the entail on the New House property (by which it would have passed to her eldest son or eldest daughter) and instead left it in equal shares to all her children.
Even though Elizabeth married at a time when a woman and all her belongings, income, etc. automatically became her husband’s property, she was able to maintain control over the assets that were hers before the marriage – most probably with the support of George Mackay Sutherland.
- Probate of the Will of Mrs Elizabeth Sutherland, dated 18 Dec 1845. West Yorkshire Archive Service ref: WYW1630.
- Indenture mentioned in the probate of the will of Mrs Elizabeth Sutherland. West Yorkshire Archive Service ref: WYW1630.
- A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, by Bernard Burke, 1871.
- The Fleet Papers, January 6, 1844.
Elizabeth Sutherland’s will transcribed by Louise Godley.
John Walker senior’s (enormous) will transcribed by an In Search Of Ann Walker team led by Louise Godley.
Ancestry – UK census, baptism, marriage & burial records: www.ancestry.co.uk (paid subscription)
“My dearest Elizabeth”, by Leila Straub. Letters from Ann Walker to Elizabeth: https://insearchofannwalker.com/my-dearest-elizabeth/
“Hannah Heap”, by Erin Quilliam, Vicki Clark and Catriona Findlay: https://insearchofannwalker.com/hannah-heap-not-just-a-servant/
“Frances Penfold Walker Clarke (1803-1838) A Consequential Life“, by Caroline Maillard: https://insearchofannwalker.com/frances-penfold-walker/
With thanks to
In Search of Ann Walker’s research into Ann’s life is ongoing, therefore new discoveries may change the way we chronicle her life in the future.