Walkden, Peter (DNB00)

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WALKDEN, PETER (1684–1769), presbyterian minister and diarist, born at Flixton, near Manchester, on 16 Oct. 1684, was educated at a village school, then at the academy of James Coningham, minister of the presbyterian chapel at Manchester, and finally at some Scottish university, where he graduated M.A. He entered his first ministerial charge on 1 May 1709 at Garsdale, Yorkshire, which he quitted at the end of 1711 to become minister of two small congregations at Newton-in-Bowland and Hesketh Lane, near Chipping, in a poor and sparsely inhabited agricultural part of Lancashire. There he remained until 1738, when he removed to Holcombe, near Bury in the same county. In 1744 he was appointed to the pastorate of the tabernacle, Stockport, Cheshire, and remained there until his death on 5 Nov. 1769. He was buried in his own chapel, and his son Henry wrote a Latin epitaph for his gravestone.

His diary for the years 1725, 1729, and 1730, the only portion which has survived, was published in 1866 by William Dobson of Preston. It presents a vivid and curious picture of the hard life of a poor country minister of the period, and has suggested to Mr. Hall Caine some features of his character of Parson Christian in the ‘Son of Hagar.’ Passages from his correspondence and commonplace books have also been printed by Mr. James Bromley in the ‘Transactions’ of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (vols. xxxii. xxxvi. xxxvii.).

He was twice married: first, to Margaret Woodworth, who died in December 1715; his second wife's name is not known. He had eight children, of whom one, Henry, was a minister at Clitheroe, and died there on 2 April 1795.

[Works cited above; E. Kirk in Manchester Literary Club Papers, v. 56; Heginbotham's Stockport, ii. 300; Smith's History of Chipping, 1894; Nightingale's Lancashire Nonconformity.]

C. W. S.