Walker, John (1674-1747) (DNB00)

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WALKER, JOHN (1674–1747), ecclesiastical historian, son of Endymion Walker, was baptised at St. Kerrian's, Exeter, 21 Jan. 1673–4. His father was mayor of Exeter in 1682. On 19 Nov. 1691 he matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, was admitted fellow on 3 July 1695, and became full fellow on 4 July 1696 (vacated 1700). On 16 Jan. 1697–8 he was ordained deacon by Sir Jonathan Trelawny [q. v.], then bishop of Exeter; he graduated B.A. on 4 July, and was instituted to the rectory of St. Mary Major, Exeter, on 22 Aug. 1698. On 13 Oct. 1699 he graduated M.A. (apparently incorporated at Cambridge, 1702).

The publication of Calamy's ‘Account’ (1702–1713) of nonconformist ministers silenced and ejected after the Restoration [see Calamy, Edmund] suggested simultaneously to Charles Goodall [q. v.] and to Walker the idea of rendering a similar service to the memory of the deprived and sequestered clergy. Goodall advertised for information in the ‘London Gazette;’ finding that Walker was engaged on a similar task, he gave him the materials he had collected. Walker collected particulars by help of query sheets, circulated in various dioceses; those for Exeter (very minute) and Canterbury are printed by Calamy (Church and Dissenters Compar'd, 1719, pp. 4, 10). Among his helpers was Mary Astell [q. v.] His diligence in amassing materials may be estimated from the detailed account given in his preface, and still more from examination of his large and valuable manuscript collections, presented to the Bodleian Library in 1754 by Walker's son William, a druggist in Exeter, and rebound in 1869 in twelve folio and eleven quarto volumes; the lost ‘Minutes of the Bury Presbyterian Classis’ (Chetham Society, 1896) have been edited from the transcript in the Walker manuscripts.

Walker's book appeared in 1714, folio, with title ‘An Attempt towards recovering an Account of the Numbers and Sufferings of the Clergy of the Church of England, Heads of Colleges, Fellows, Scholars, &c., who were Sequester'd, Harrass'd, &c. in the late Times of the Grand Rebellion: Occasion'd by the Ninth Chapter (now the second volume) of Dr. Calamy's Abridgment of the Life of Mr. Baxter. Together with an Examination of That Chapter.’ A remarkable subscription list contains over thirteen hundred names. The work consists of two parts: (1) a history of ecclesiastical affairs from 1640 to 1660, the object being to show that the ejection of the puritans at the Restoration was a just reprisal for their actions when in power; (2) a catalogue, well arranged and fairly well indexed, of the deprived clergy with particulars of their sufferings. The plan falls short of Calamy's, as it does not profess to give biographies; the list of names adds up to 3,334 (Calamy's ejected add up to 2,465), but if all the names of the suffering clergy could be recovered, Walker thinks they might reach ten thousand (i. 200). A third part, announced in the title-page as an examination of Calamy's work, was deferred (pref. p. li), and never appeared, though Calamy is plentifully attacked in the preface.

The work was hailed by Thomas Bisse [q. v.] in a sermon before the sons of the clergy (6 Dec. 1716) as a ‘book of martyrology’ and ‘a record which ought to be kept in every sanctuary.’ John Lewis [q. v.], whom Calamy calls a ‘chumm’ of Walker's, and who had formed high expectations of the book, disparages it, in ‘Remarks’ on Bisse, as ‘a farrago of false and senseless legends.’ It was criticised, from the nonconformist side, by John Withers (d. 1729) of Exeter, in an appendix to his ‘Reply,’ 1714, 8vo, to two pamphlets by John Agate, an Exeter clergyman; and by Calamy in ‘The Church and the Dissenters Compar'd as to Persecution,’ 1719, 8vo. With all deductions, the value of Walker's work is great; he writes with virulence and without dignity, but he is careful to distinguish doubtful from authenticated matter, and he does not suppress the charges brought against some of his sufferers. His tone, however, has done much to foster the impression (on the whole unjust) that the legislative treatment of nonconformity after the Restoration was vindictive. An ‘Epitome’ of the ‘Attempt’ was published at Oxford, 1862, 8vo. A small abridgment of the ‘Attempt,’ with biographical additions and an introduction by Robert Whittaker, was published under the title ‘The Sufferings of the Clergy,’ 1863, 8vo.

By diploma of 7 Dec. 1714 Walker was made D.D. at Oxford, and on 20 Dec. he was appointed to a prebend at Exeter. On 17 Oct. 1720 he was instituted to the rectory of Upton Pyne, Devonshire, on the presentation of Hugh Stafford, and here he ended his days. He died in June 1747, and was buried (20 June) in his churchyard, near the east end of the north aisle of the church. His tombstone bears only this inscription: ‘Underneath was buried a late Rector of this Parish, 1747.’ He married at Exeter Cathedral, on 17 Nov. 1704, Martha Brooking, who died on 12 Sept. 1748, aged 67 (tombstone). In 1874 the north aisle of the church was extended, and the gravestones of Walker and his wife are now in the floor of the new portion, called the ‘organ aisle.’

[No life of Walker exists; some particulars contributed by George Oliver (1781–1861) [q. v.] to Trewman's Exeter Flying Post were reproduced with additions (partly from Boase's Register of Exeter College, 1879) by Mr. Winslow Jones in a letter to the Devon and Exeter Daily Gazette, 19 Feb. 1887; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xii. 435, 4th ser. iii. 566; Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Libr. 1868, p. 167; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Boase's Register of Exeter College (Oxford Hist. Soc.), 1894, pp. 127, 272.]

A. G.