Title: (Ann Lister and) Ann Walker’s In-Laws, The Sutherlands of Scotland

Speaker: David Glover, President of Halifax Antiquarian Society

Venue: St John’s In The Wilderness Church, Cragg Vale, 20th Feb 2020

Attendance: 24 Members; 6 Visitors


David has given us a number of very interesting and varied talks over the years. This time it was a fascinating talk that covered much ground geographically and time, while illustrating the twists and turns of fortunes. It centred on Ann Walker, the partner of Anne Lister, and her In-laws, the Sutherlands of Scotland. However, it began with the murder of “The Red Fox” in Scotland in 1752, moved to Lightcliffe in 1828, covered the connection with Anne Lister, touched on the loss of the Walker-Sutherland fortunes and ended with the link to June Whitfield, the British Actress.


The Appin Murder of 14 May 1752, the shooting of Colin Campbell of Glenure, resulted in what is held to be one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice. It occurred in the tumultuous aftermath of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 and is said to have inspired events in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped.


The scene then moved on to Halifax in 1828 and a direct descendant of Colin Campbell, Captain George Mackay Sutherland and his marriage to Elizabeth Walker, an heiress of Crow Nest, Lightcliffe. Elizabeth was the sister of Ann Walker, the partner of Anne Lister. With the marriage, Elizabeth’s inheritance in Lightcliffe passed over to her husband. However George and Elizabeth made their home in his property in Scotland, as those who have watched the BBC TV series “Gentleman Jack” will know.


In 1834, Ann Walker moved into Shibden Hall with Anne Lister, and when Anne L died in 1840, she left Ann W. a life interest in the house. Ann W had had a history of “mental illness” and her relatives had her declared “mad” and she was sent to an asylum in York before going back to her Cliffe Hill home where she died in 1854. In the meantime, George Mackay Sutherland had come back to West Yorkshire and had taken up the tenancy of Shibden Hall so that he could “look after” Ann. Elizabeth died in 1844. George died in 1847.


The eldest surviving son of Elizabeth and George became the heir to the Walker estate. In 1854, Evan wanted to move into Crow Nest himself so ordered the eviction of the tenant, one Titus Salt. By 1867, Evan had designs on becoming a Scottish Laird and the whole of the Lightcliffe estate was put up for sale. Titus Salt was able to move back into Crow Nest when he bought the property at auction. The Sutherland family moved to Skibo Castle, Sutherland, Scotland, a move that started a series of unfortunate events that left the family in very much reduced circumstances, and with no estates. Evan moved to London SW7 where he died in 1913. His descendants included a Betty Sutherland who married her second husband, Commander Aitchison in 1919. They had a son, Tim, who married June Whitfield, actress, in 1955.