Walker, Richard (DNB00)

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WALKER, RICHARD (1679–1764), professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge University, was born in 1679. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1706, M.A. in 1710, B.D. in 1724, and D.D. per regias literas in 1728. He was elected a fellow of Trinity College, but in 1708 left Cambridge to serve a curacy at Upwell in Norfolk. In 1717 Richard Bentley, who had a difference with the junior bursar, John Myers, removed him, and recalled Walker to Cambridge to fill his place. From this time an intimacy began between Walker and Bentley which increased from year to year. He devoted his best energies to sustaining Bentley in his struggle with the fellows of the college, and rendered him invaluable aid. On 27 April 1734 Bentley was sentenced by the college visitor, Thomas Green (1658-1738) [q. v.], bishop of Ely, to be deprived of the mastership of Trinity College. On the resignation of John Hacket, the vice-master, on 17 May 1734, Walker was appointed to his place, and resolutely refused to carry out the bishop's sentence. On 25 June 1735, at the instance of John Colbatch, a senior fellow, the court of king's bench granted a mandamus addressed to Walker, requiring him to execute the sentence or to show cause for not doing so. Walker, in reply, questioned the title of the bishop to the office of general visitor, and the affair dragged on until 1736, when Green's death put an end to the attempts of Bentley's opponents. Walker was the constant companion of Bentley's old age, and was introduced by Pope into the 'Dunciad' with his patron (Pope, Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, iv. 201-5).

In 1744 Walker was appointed professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge, and in 1745 he was nominated rector of Thorpland in Norfolk, a living which he exchanged in 1757 for that of Upwell in the same county. He was devoted to horticulture, and had a small garden within the precincts of Trinity College which was famous for exotic plants, including the pineapple, banana, coffee shrub, logwood tree, and torch thistle, which, with the aid of a hothouse, he was able to bring to perfection. On 16 July 1760 he purchased the principal part of the land now forming the botanic garden at Cambridge from Richard Whish, a vintner, and on 25 Aug. 1762 conveyed it to the university in trust for its present purpose. In 1763 he published anonymously 'A Short Account of the late Donation of a Botanic Garden to the University of Cambridge' (Cambridge, 4to). He died at Cambridge, unmarried, on 15 Dec. 1764.

[Monk's Life of Bentley, 1833, ii. 26, 81, 349-56, 379-84,400-6; Scots Mag. 1764, p. 687; Annual Reg. 1760, i. 103; Willis's Architectural Hist. of Cambridge, 1886, ii. 582-3, 646, iii. 145, 151; Blomefield's Hist. of Norfolk, 1807, vii. 99, 470.]

E. I. C.