Walker Surname Genealogy


The surname Walker is an occupational name that derives
from the term used to describe a fuller of cloth. Wool was cleaned and
thickened by being soaked in water and then trampled underfoot, the
“walking” on the wool. This “walking” is manly a north of England
Elsewhere in England, different
occupational names for a walker developed, Fuller in southern and
England, Tucker in the southwest.

Walker Resources on

England. In the traditional textile heartland of
northern England, the workers – from the Old English wealcan
walkers. A Robert le Walker was recorded in the Yorkshire assize
rolls of
1260. Records of a Walker family at Birstall,
and Nidderdale
began with the birth of William Walker around
the year 1468.

The Walker name has been most common in Yorkshire and
have been particularly numerous as a surname on Teesside and in the
towns of Leeds and Wakefield (which had the largest number of Walkers
in 1881):

  • Thomas
    Walker was vicar of Wakefield in 1655.
  • William Walker around this time bought Walterclough Hall near Halifax
    and the family
    remained there
    through four generations.
  • the
    family in Whitby

    was Quaker and
    many of them were merchants and shipowners. Captain
    Cook the famous explorer was an apprentice to John Walker in the 1720’s.
  • Robert Walker married Rachel Spence in Leeds in
    1779 and they were part of a Quaker community at Netherdale in which
    Walkers played a part for over 150 years.
  • while another family history began
    with Richard and Ann Walker who were married around 1740 and lived in
    Yarm, a
    small village near Stockton-on-Tees. Son James was a flax
    merchant and
    mayor of Stockton in 1809.

James Walker was a merchant in
Manchester whose son of the same name moved in the 1750’s to Cottingham
in the
East Ridings. His family became
landowners and country gentry there.

The Rev. Robert Walker, born in Seathwaite
in 1706, was a parish priest in the Lake District until his death in
1799. The poet Wordsworth wrote his
praises in his Duddon Sonnet. His
sons through four generations were called
Zaccheus Walker.

Scotland. The surname in Scotland
originated from Waulker, “son of the Fuller or cloth maker.”

There are
waulking songs (from the Gaelic orainluiadh) that were sung in
the Outer
Hebrides during the “walking” process for tweed-making and which are
still performed today. A Highland clan, initially called
McNaucator and based in
the forested area of Knapdale in Argyllshire, changed their name to
Walker in
the 18th century.

There were also Lowland Walkers. Johnnie Walker, a
Kilmarnock grocer, was the inspiration behind the Johnnie
Walker Black Label
whisky blend created by his son
Alexander in 1867 which became world-famous.
By the time of the 1881 census Glasgow and its environs were
where most
Walkers were to be found.

Ireland. Walkers had arrived in Ulster by the 17th century, the
most famous of them being the Rev.
George Walker
. Born in county Tyrone of English parents,
he became
governor of Derry. He led the successful defense of Londonderry
the siege in 1689. A year later he was
slain at the Battle of the Boyne

at Carnew in county Wicklow go back to 1713 when Yorkshireman John
arrived there to work on the Shillelagh estate.
The talk show host Graham Norton, whose real name is Graham
Walker, has
family roots in Carnew.

America. Captain
Richard Walker from London is the earliest known Walker immigrant to
arriving in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1630.
He was a malster by trade and later kept a tavern in Woburn. Captain Samuel Walker who arrived in 1637 was
found in the same towns, but the two Walkers were not related.

Thomas Walker had immigrated to
Boston from England and his son Thomas settled in Sudbury,
Massachusetts around
1660. He was an inn-keeper there with the
only liquor license in town.
His line led after six generations to Hiram Walker who was born
on a
family farm in Douglas, Massachusetts in 1816.
Hiram Walker was to make his mark in Detroit as a whisky
distiller whose
business boomed during the Civil War

Walkers from Londonderry later came to America:

  • John
    Walker, grandson of the
    Rev. George Walker, arrived in Delaware in 1720. His
    son John was a well-known Indian fighter.
  • Robert
    Walker was in Baltimore by 1725. His
    descendants migrated to Pennsylvania, then Ohio, before heading west
    again to
    Johnson county, Iowa
    in 1840.

from county Down came to Chester county,
Pennsylvania in 1730. Their descendants
were to be found in Virginia and Alabama.

T.B. Walker’s start to life in 1840 in
Xenia, Ohio did not promise much for the future.

Walkers had bought a ranch
near Lexington in Missouri. On the way
there, the family and their servants were stricken with malaria and
Platt Walker
was obliged to sell out and return to Xenia.
When gold fever came in 1849, Walker left for California after
$75,000 on covered wagons and horses. He
died on the way.”

In 1863 he came out to Minnesota and began to acquire
timberlands and set up sawmills throughout the state.
He later expanded into northern California
and his company became one of the largest forest products companies in
country. Descendants of his son Clinton
Walker have continued to live in northern California.
They own 140,000 acres of timberland
there known as Shasta Forests

Canada. A
Walker family of Orange
county, North Carolina was divided in its loyalties during the American
Revolutionary War. Many stayed there
after the war. But William Walker brought
his family to Lincoln county, Ontario in 1794.
In his application for a land grant he stated:

“He had been in the army
of Lord Cornwallis and had just arrived with his family from North
Carolina. He had eight hundred acres of
land taken from him and sold by the rebels.
He had suffered everything but death by the American Revolution.”

He did get a land grant, at Grimsby township
on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Walker was a maker of watchcases in London who, after the loss of his
wife and
four children, decided to emigrate to Canada.
He came to Ontario with his remaining children in 1834. His grandson Edmund made his mark as a banker and was
President of the Canadian Bank of Commerce from 1907 to 1924.

Walker Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Walker Names


a professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University,
was one of the leading lights of the 18th century Scottish
John Walker of Stockton on Tees
invented the friction match in 1827.
Hiram Walker began the production of Canadian Club whisky at Walkerville
in Canada in 1858
Johnnie Walker a
Kilmarnock grocer, was the inspiration behind the famous Johnnie Walker whisky brand.  Jack

developed Walker Steel as
the largest steel stockholder in Britain by the 1980’s.
He owned and invested in his home-town
football club, Blackburn Rovers.

Alice Walker is an acclaimed
American writer and feminist, best known for her novel The Color Purple.

Select Walkers Today
  • 195,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 180,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 82,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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