By Ashleigh Kobevko and Deb Woolson
Birth & Family
William Walker was born in Halifax in 1748 to William Walker and Elizabeth Caygill. He was baptised in Lightcliffe on 3rd March 1748.1 Elizabeth Caygill was William’s father’s second wife, as his father’s first wife, Mary Wainhouse of Pye Nest, died after 7 or 8 weeks of marriage.2 Elizabeth Caygill was the sister of John Caygill, who donated the land where the Piece Hall was built. William Walker Junior had siblings; Mary born 1747, Elizabeth born 1750, John born 1753 and Ann born 1757. He was Ann Walker’s uncle.
His father William Walker Sr (1713 – 1786) was a wealthy merchant and owner of Crow Nest who largely funded the building of St. Matthew’s old church as noted here: “In 1775, William Walker wanted a large amount of timber for the rebuilding of Crow Nest, Cliff Hill and Lightcliffe Church. He chartered a vessel in Hull, went to the Baltic shore of Russia, brought the timber back to Hull and then conveyed it by canal to Brighouse.”3 In 1786, upon his father’s death, William Walker Junior inherited a large part of the Lightcliffe estate. William lived at Crow Nest, while his brother John Walker and his family lived at Cliffe Hill.
William served as the treasurer of Calder & Hebble Navigation4 (also known as the Calder & Hebble Canal), which was constructed between 1758 and 1834 and ran 27 miles in length.5 Read more about the canal here.
William also served as a member of the Grand Jury for the Assizes in July 1798 and August 1803, as seen from local newspaper articles. Assizes was a regional court circuit dealing with serious offences, held twice a year in England.
In 1779, William Walker Junior was also appointed Deputy Lieutenant of West Riding in the County of York, an unpaid position that supported the Lord Lieutenant in a county. He would represent the monarch and attend important events and perform public duties. See the image at the top of the blog for his certificate of appointment. Here also is the 1804 newspaper announcement of William becoming Deputy Lieutenant of Morley (a division of West Riding, Yorkshire at the time).
In 1803 William Walker purchased the High Sunderland Hall manor house from Sir Watts Horton. William gave this property, upon his death in 1809 to his nephew William Priestley. William then gave the property to his nephew John Rawson of Brockwell in 1858. In 1861, by Indenture of that date, John Rawson conveyed the property to Evan Charles Sutherland-Walker, of Crow Nest (Ann Walker’s heir) who sold it in 1866.6
High Sunderland Hall is now mostly famous for Emily Brontë, as aspects of the building’s architecture are believed by many to have been an inspiration for the remote moorland farmhouse Wuthering Heights, which is the setting of the book of the same name. Read more here.
Though Sunderland Hall no longer stands, there are some surviving photographs which show columns on the main doorway with strange, muscular, naked figures. It is thought that these figures might be the ‘shameless little boys’ that Bronte described in her book. There are various other carvings and figures around the building including Griffins, angels, and other mythological creatures.
Sunderland Hall was roughly a 25-minute walk from Shibden Hall.
The photos below are stones from High Sunderland that have been stored on the property of Shibden Hall since it was demolished in 1951. Photos were taken by Kate Lycett, the artist who created the cover for The Moss House book by Clara Barley and was commissioned to do a painting by Shibden Hall. View her artwork here. These stones are now on public display in the Folk Museum yard behind Shibden Hall where anyone can view and photograph them though they are not identified as being from High Sunderland, per David Glover, President of the Halifax Antiquarian Society.
In 1807, Revd H.W. Couldhurst D. D., Vicar of Halifax held a meeting at the Talbot Inn, Woolshops to discuss medical care for those in need. A plan was made to help the sick poor receive physicians care free of cost. There would be two physicians, two surgeons and an apothecary. A physician would examine and prescribe for out-patients and visit home patients every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.7 In 1808 the Halifax General Dispensary opened, for which William Walker donated £10.10.0 (10 pounds, 10 shillings and zero pence).8
"The Halifax General Dispensary was opened in 1808 to provide medical assistance to the poor, and was the institution which eventually became the Calderdale Royal Hospital. It was originally located in the vicinity of today's Dispensary Walk, before moving to Causey Head and later, in 1838, to Blackwall, in Harrison Road."9
William died on 2nd September 1809, unmarried, at the age of 60. On his death the family estate passed on to his younger brother John (Ann Walker’s father) at which time, at the age of six years old, Ann Walker moved into Crow Nest, from Cliffe Hill, with her parents and her siblings Mary, Elizabeth and John. It is likely that William and John’s sisters Ann and Mary moved out of Crow Nest at this point, to Cliffe Hill.
Newspaper death notices for William Walker.
William Walker was the last of his family to be buried in St. John the Baptist Church, Halifax (now the Minster),10 though some sources incorrectly report his burial in St. Matthews Churchyard. There is no stone now to be seen. The Walker vault was located inside the church on the south side. In 1864 Elizabeth Walker’s son Evan Charles Sutherland Walker paid for a stained-glass window and brass plaque to commemorate the many Walkers buried nearby. The plaque and stained-glass window are still there, seen below. Read more about the Walker family and the Minster here.
William’s estate was estimated at £12,500 which is equivalent to over £1m today.11 The majority of his estate went to his brother John Walker (Ann’s father) though he did leave family items, annuities and funds to his sisters and other family members. He left High Sunderland to his nephew William Priestley. In addition, he remembered the poor in his will:
"William Walker of Crownest, esquire, by his will, dated the 19th August 1809, gave to his executors and trustees, and their heirs, an annuity, clear yearly rent or sum of £10, upon trust, that they or the survivors or survivor of them, and his heirs, should distribute the same at the chapel at Lightcliffe, on Christmas day, in every year, amongst such poor persons of the township of Hipperholme, as they see fit:"12
£10 is the equivalent of c£860 today.13 More on his charity here.
Ann Walker honoured her uncle’s wishes throughout her life and even after her death. In accordance to her Last Will & Testament, these gifts were still being made until the 1970’s when it was no longer financially feasible to do so. In 2020, In Search of Ann Walker raised over £1000 for a local food bank to continue the charitable tradition begun by William and continued by his niece Ann Walker.
1- Findmypast- a paid service
2- The Nonconformist Register Of Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, Compiled by the Revs Oliver Heywoood & T. Dickensen, 1644-1702, 1702-1752, Generally known as the Northowram or Coley Register, Edited by J Horfall Turner, 1881.
3- The Story of Old Halifax by Thomas William Hanson
Forgotten Books, page 224
4- Obituary reported Treasurer in Lancaster Gazette 16 September 1809- Is a paid service
5- Calder and Hebble Navigation history – Engole the Elven for Knowledge
6- High Sunderland history – Yorkshire Notes and Queries, Sixty Illustrations
Vol 1, 1888, pages 71 & 72
7- Donation to the Halifax General Dispensary
WYC:1525/10/1/3/19/5 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale
8- Halifax Antiquarian Society
Origins and Development of the Royal Halifax infirmary
Washington J.G 1996
9- Weaver to Web
Halifax General Dispensary
10- Burial at St John the Baptist, Halifax- Ancestry.com a paid service
11- CPI Inflation Calculator used in conversion
12 – William’s charity – Concise History of the Parish and Vicarage, Halifax, By John Crabtree, Gent. Published by Hartley and Walker, London
13- CPI Inflation Calculator used in conversion
British Newspapers Archives is a paid service
William Walker – Deputy Lieutenant
WYC:1525/7/1/2/1 West Yorkshire Archive Service, Calderdale
Calder and Hebble Navigation
Skirtcoat Green Directory
High on a Hill Stood a Lonely Mansion
By David C. Glover
Skircoat Green Directory
The ‘Missing’ Walker Window at Halifax Minster
By David C. Glover
Operations Manager, Halifax Minster
Caroline Maillard – Editing
Louise Godley – Editing
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:
Ashleigh Kobevko & Deb Woolson (2022) “William Walker, Junior”: In Search of Ann Walker [Accessed “add date”]