Ann’s People

George Sackville Sutherland

George Sackville Sutherland was Ann Walker’s eldest nephew and the second child of George Mackay Sutherland and Elizabeth Sutherland (née Walker).

He was often known as Sackville, and to avoid confusion with his father, George Mackay Sutherland, I will refer to him as Sackville throughout this blog.

Birth and Baptism

Sackville was born on 11 March 1831 – the date is mentioned in a letter between Ann and her sister Elizabeth, and twice mentioned in Anne Lister’s journal.1

Sackville was likely born in Crow Nest, Lightcliffe, as the Sutherlands had returned there in January 1831.2 He was later baptised in St Matthew’s Church in Lightcliffe (Now Old St Matthew’s Churchyard) on 19 April 1831.3

West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; New Reference Number: WDP47/1/2/1 – Accessed Ancestry.co.uk on 26/02/23

While the Sutherlands were in Lightcliffe when Sackville was an infant, Anne Lister met him on 12 June 1831 whilst calling on the family.

“staid perhaps near ½ hour with Miss Walker [of Cliff Hill], then about the same at Crownest – saw Captain and Mrs. Sutherland and their 2 children and 2 visitors and cousins the Miss Atkinsons – drank tea at Lightcliffe in 55 minutes”

West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/14/0070. Transcription by Kerstin Holzgraebe

Early Life

Most of the insight we have into Sackville’s early life comes from the letters exchanged between Ann Walker and Elizabeth Sutherland.

In these letters, Ann often affectionately referred to her numerous nieces and nephews as “dear little pets”. But as well as the sweet endearment, Sackville was often known simply as “Sack”.4

We know that Sackville had a period of illness due to the measles throughout January 1833. This obviously worried Elizabeth and George Mackay Sutherland, not just for the health of their (at this time,) only son, but their daughter too. GMS writes to Anne Lister on 6 January:

“I would without delay or hesitation urge my Wife to go into Yorkshire to visit her Sister, but at present she is Nursing – and her health is not in other respects so robust, as to enable her to undertake so long a Journey so recently after her confinement, at this inclement season of the Year, besides our little Boy was two days ago attacked with Measles – I hope he is doing well, but it will be some time ere he could accompany us, and my Wife would not feel comfortable in leaving him at present, and besides also there is every reasonable presumption that his Sister can not escape the infection.”

GMS to AL – 6 Jan 1833, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/648 Transcription by Leila Straub

On the 28th of January, Elizabeth asks Anne Lister to accompany Ann Walker to Edinburgh, where Captain Sutherland will meet Ann. They are to meet in Edinburgh rather than journey down to Yorkshire on account of “the reduced state in which our little boy is”.5

The boy’s sickness keeps Elizabeth from travelling to meet Ann in Edinburgh. It also comes at an inopportune moment as the family has recently moved to Udale, Scotland.

“I never had the slightest idea of your meeting me in Edinbro, and in such weather it would be quite hasardous on your own account even if poor Sack were better. I had no idea he was so poorly still; but I fervently trust he will gradually regain his strength, I fear you have been much harassed in attending upon him, and removing to Udale, I should be truly thankful to hear you are safely settled there.”

AW to ES – 2 Feb 1833, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/20 Transcription by Leila Straub & Kerstin Holzgraebe

Despite the bouts of ill health as a toddler, Sackville seems to grow into a well-mannered and attentive boy, at least in this letter from Ann to her sister Elizabeth:

“I am quite amused at Mary’s communicativeness, as well as at Sack’s patience and politeness waiting till she had said her say before he began his”.

AW to ES – 1 September 1834, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/27. Transcription by Leila Straub

Like a true Scot, Sackville has a penchant for a kilt, sporting it often enough that Ann felt the need to remark in winter 1835, “I think Sackville will now be glad of his trousers instead of the kilt.”6

Sackville was also learning a few gentlemanly pursuits, such as horse riding. 

“if you have not written before you receive this, pray let me have a line as soon as you can, saying how you all are. How is little Mary getting on with her lessons? And does Sackville ride on his pony now?”

AW letter to GMS 3 April 1836, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:107/2. Transcription by Leila Straub

In 1841, per the census, Sackville is living with his family at Udale House in Cromarty, Scotland. There are 15 people living in the household at the time. Including the Sutherland family, made up of George and Elizabeth and their 5 children, Mary, Sackville, Elizabeth Jr, Evan, and Ann. Other members of the household are staff, including housekeeper Hannah Heap.

Udale House, Cromarty. Image courtesy of the Kirkmichael Trust

Education

By June 1834, Sackville has received the start of his education, as Ann wonders if he can “say his alphabet” when writing from her honeymoon in France.7

By February 1835, Sackville has begun a more formal form of schooling or tutelage. He learns at a rapid pace, as Ann marvels at his “much greater progress” and ability to write in her letter dated 3 February 1835.8

By the end of the month, we know he is taking lessons with his older sister, Mary.9 Whilst invested in their education, Ann feels the lessons are just as important to be a good distraction for the siblings in the poor weather.

“And how go on the lessons, during this weather. they must be a nice occupation, for I don’t think either Mary or Sackville would like to stay quietly in the house if they were not busy about one thing or other.”

AW to ES 25 February 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/37. Transcription by Leila Straub

Sackville’s Trip to Halifax

Four-year-old Sackville would later accompany his mother and father to Halifax in September 1835, while his parents conducted the division of the Walker estate. The other Sutherland children remained in Scotland.

The Sutherlands had been due to arrive on the 15th as Anne Lister notes the comings and goings at Cliff Hill on 2 September. “her aunt asked her to stay at Cliff Hill during the Sutherlands’ visit – they come on the 15th instant”.11 However, come Wednesday, 15 September, “The Sutherlands not arrived”.12

The family is only delayed by a few hours however, as Anne notes on the 16th, “Captain and Mrs. Sutherland and their oldest son, ætatis 4, Sackville, arrived last night at 7”.13 Ann Walker then goes to stay at Cliff Hill “till 1 a.m. on Saturday”.14

Although Anne notes some of the goings-on with Ann and the Sutherlands, Sackville is unmentioned until Sunday, 20 September, when Ann and Anne meet the Sutherlands at church and then take Sackville back with them to Cliff Hill. She makes a point of noting her civility to the Sutherlands, “particularly to little Sackville”.

“very civil to the S-s and would have little Sackville to go back with us, which he did – at Cliff hill – A- had a tête à tête 1st with her sister then with Captain S- then came to us all, and we sat till after 6 – I had talked 19 knots an hour – very civil to the S-‘s and particularly to little Sackville, so was A-“

West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/18/0100. Transcription by Jane Kendall

Not everyone shares this civility. Within a week, Aunt Ann Walker has become tired of the Sutherlands, and little Sackville doesn’t escape her frustration either. Which warranted a note by Anne Lister in her diary on Monday, 28 September:

“Mrs. Ann Walker in very good sorts with A– but fatiguée de ces Sutherlands ils la gênent par eux mêmes et par leur petit garçon [tired of these Sutherlands; they annoy her by themselves, and by their little boy]”

West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/18/0105. Transcription by Jane Kendall

The Sutherlands then left Cliff Hill on 2 October.15

Birthdays

The nieces and nephews obviously took up a great deal of Ann’s thoughts and affections. This is apparent in how diligent she is about remembering their birthdays, Sackville’s especially. 

Ann and Elizabeth correspond very regularly in late February and early March 1835, owing to the grave illness of their uncle. Despite the gloomy reasoning for the letters, Ann adds a line about Sackville and his upcoming birthday in each letter.

In the evening of 25 February 1835, she writes:

“And be assured I shall not forget to wish Sack many many happy returns on his birthday”

AW to ES 25 February 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/37. Transcription by Leila Straub

Then on the 2 March:

“I shall not forget to drink his health and wish him very sincerely many many happy returns of the day on wednesday week – I suppose they will have a holiday and display all the little cups and saucers, and Mary will have to preside”

AW to ES 2 March 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/38. Transcription by Leila Straub & Kerstin Holzgraebe

And finally on the night of 7 March:

“Pray give my best love and a great many kisses to Sackville, and tell him, I wish him many many happy returns of the day, for I conclude you will get this one on the 11th [of March] –  I shall not forget to drink his health, and think how busy he and all the little ones will be with tea cups and saucers etc etc.”.

AW to ES 7 March 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/39. Transcription by Leila Straub

Ann’s note about the letter arriving on the 11th is why we may deduce the date to be Sackville’s birthday. We can corroborate this with a note from Anne Lister’s journal on Friday, 11 March 1836:

“a bottle of claret today out of which I drank Sackville’s health on his 5th birthday and drank near 3 glasses”

West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/19/0010. Transcription by Francesca Raia

This special diligence Ann pays to her nephew’s birthday is most remarkable in 1840. On the 11 March 1840, when Ann and Anne are touring Russia, they don’t fail to pause and toast to Sackville on his birthday, “and we drank Sackvilles health etc. on his 8th birthday”.16

Other mentions of Sackville in the diaries

Most mentions of Sackville in Anne Lister’s diaries are when she is detailing the changing of her and Ann Walker’s wills. However, on 6 September 1838, she writes of Ann receiving a letter from her sister, where the Sutherlands have put off a trip to London then the Rhine because “Sackville poorly”, and “Sackville to be taken to London per steam from Cromarty”.17

Further Illness and Death

Sackville becomes worryingly sick again in late 1842 when Georgina Sutherland writes to George Mackay Sutherland:

“I am thankful to hear from yourself that your dear Sackville (tho’ not recovering so speedily as his friends could wish) is on the mending hands, and your own and Mrs. Sutherland’s deep anxiety must naturally be great, but I hope the Wise disposer of all Human events will soon be pleased to usher him to perfect health, and strength ongoing, and spare him to be a Comfort to you, and all his other friends.”

Georgina Sutherland to GMS 12 November 1842, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:107/4. Transcription by Leila Straub
Kirkmichael, Resolis, Rosshire

George Sackville Sutherland died on 1 February 1843, aged just 11 years old.18 He was buried in Kirkmichael, Rosshire, in the highlands of Scotland where his younger brother John was also buried.19 The church still exists today and the churchyard overlooks Udale Bay and Cromarty Firth.

01/02/1843 Sutherland, George, L, (Old Parish Registers Deaths 061/20/277 Cromarty) Page 277 of 295 © Crown copyright, National Records of Scotland.
18 February 1843 from the Halifax Guardian ©The British Library Board

Despite the moment of great family tragedy, George Mackay Sutherland was reminded by his brother to trust in God’s will, and to focus on his remaining children.

“Believe that we deeply sympathize with you. Your loss is indeed irreparable and for a time you will feel no consolation. Do not my dear Brother indulge this feeling too far, check, and conquer it. Rebel not against the will of the Almighty lest further affliction follow, but reflect, and with deep gratitude to Providence, on the numerous and promising family still left, on your home where peace and affection dwell”

Robert Sutherland letter to GMS 1 April 1843, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:107/4. Transcription by Leila Straub

Sackville is mentioned on the Walker memorial plaque that is housed in St Matthew’s Churchyard tower, the same church where he had been baptised. 

The Sutherland family did not remain in Scotland long after Sackville’s passing. They later resided in St John’s Wood, London and in Merton, Surrey, in the South East of England. It was in Merton where Elizabeth, Sackville’s mother and Ann Walker’s sister, died of tuberculosis in December 1844.20


Sources

  1. AW to ES 7 March 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/39. Transcription by Leila Straub & West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/19/0010. Transcription by Francesca Raia
  2. West Yorkshire Archies, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/14/0014. Transcription by Erin Resso
  3. West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; New Reference Number: WDP47/1/2/1 – Accessed Ancestry.co.uk on 26/02/23 & <https://www.lightcliffechurchyard.org.uk/attachments/article/137/4.%20The%20Sutherland%20Walkers.pdf>
  4. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/27. Transcription by Leila Straub
  5. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/16/0013. Transcription by JY Jiang
  6. AW to ES 2 March 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/38. Transcription by Leila Straub & Kerstin Holzgraebe
  7. AW to ES 21 June 1834, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/26. Transcription by Leila Straub
  8. AW to ES 3 February 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/36. Transcription by Leila Straub
  9. AW to ES 25 February 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/37. Transcription by Leila Straub
  10. AW to ES 25 February 1835, West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, CN:103/4/37. Transcription by Leila Straub
  11. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/18/0092. Transcription by Francesca Raia
  12. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/18/0097. Transcription by Jane Kendall
  13. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/18/0097. Transcription by Jane Kendall
  14. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/18/0097. Transcription by Jane Kendall
  15. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/18/0108. Transcription by Jane Kendall
  16. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/24/0043. Transcription by Francesca Raia
  17. West Yorkshire Archives, Calderdale, SH:7/ML/E/22/0013. Transcription by Francesca Raia
  18. 18 February 1843 from the Halifax Guardian ©The British Library Board
  19. <https://www.lightcliffechurchyard.org.uk/attachments/article/137/4.%20The%20Sutherland%20Walkers.pdf> & <https://kirkmichael.info/SutherlandEnclosure.html>
  20. <https://www.lightcliffechurchyard.org.uk/attachments/article/137/4.%20The%20Sutherland%20Walkers.pdf>

Special thanks

Diane Halford and Deb Woolson – In Search of Ann Walker

Leila Straub – Editor

Friends of Lightcliffe Churchyard

The Kirkmichael Trust

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.


How to cite this article:

Quilliam, Erin. “George Sackville Sutherland”, In Search of Ann Walker,<https://insearchofannwalker.com/anns-associates/george-sackville-sutherland>. Accessed [add date].

Erin Quilliam

Used to tread the boards a bit, now writes about dogs for a living. Passionate about storytelling, whether it’s reading, D&D, video games, or putting historic people in the spotlight.