[taken from Chapter 1 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

WILLIAM WALKER (b. 1679, d. 1729)

, was a son of Thomas Walker, of Lezayre 1 Nothing is known of Thomas Walker, except that he died soon after his son's birth, leaving his widow in very straitened circumstances. Notwithstanding this, the lad's education was not neglected. That he was a zealous and eager student, the following anecdote will show: " When about twelve or thirteen years of age, he was employed as a servant in the family of John Stevenson, Esq., of Balladoole; and in the harvest his business was to drive one of the cars,2which was used at that time for carrying home corn. The boy's passion for books began to show itself at this early period. One day in autumn, whilst sitting on his empty car, he took his book out of his pocket, and began to read with such profound attention that the horse, taking advantage of the inattention of the driver, and getting the halter off his neck, ran furiously down the lawn before the parlour windows. Mr Stevenson, standing at one of the windows, saw what had happened, and hastened to stop the progress of the horse. When he came up to the car, he soon perceived the occasion of the mistake. The little reader still had his book in his hand. This circumstance appeared to the master to mark the character of the boy, and, therefore, instead of rebuking him for his neglect, he turned round to him and said: " Since thou art so fond of reading, thou shalt have enough of it." Accordingly the next day he sent him to the Castletown Academy, where, by his diligence and good conduct, he made rapid progress in classical and academical learning, and, at a proper age, offered himself a candidate for the Holy Ministry.* He was ordained deacon by Bishop Wilson in March, 1700, being then just two years below the canonical age, and he appointed him to the mastership of the Douglas Grammar School at the same time. So highly did the bishop think of him that, when the Rectory of Ballaugh became vacant, he held it open for him until he was of age to be admitted to the priesthood, which was not for three years after this. In 1712, he was appointed vicar general, and, from that time till his death, he was most intimately connected with the bishop, being " very high in his confidence and friendship, the chief of his fellow workmen and fellow sufferers."+ He entered heartily into his plans for building and beautifying churches, and himself contributed offerrings to that end. In 1722, Bishop Wilson and his two vicar-generals — Curghey and Walker — were committed to Castle Rushen by order of Governor Horne, for declining to submit to his jurisdiction in appeals from the ecclesiastical courts. They remained there for nine weeks, employing their time in translating the Bible into Manx.+ WALKER afterwards went to London several times in connection with the lawsuit which arose out of his imprisonment. The suit was ultimately decided in the bishop's favour. During one of these visits, Archbishop Wake conferred on him the degree of LL.D., being urged thereto, as Stowell says, by the zeal and ability with which he had pleaded his diocesan's cause.§ On his return home, when he saw his mother in the midst of the crowd that came to welcome him, " he dropped upon his knees to receive her blessing,"** thus showing that, notwithstanding the honours conferred upon him. he had retained the simplicity of his character. He was evidently far above the rest of his countrymen in intellectual attainments, being no doubt the " one clergyman;" alluded to by a contemporary observer as " indeed a man of letters."** In the following year he died, in the very midst of his usefulness and popularity, " to the great grief of all good men who had been witness to his great virtue."

He possessed " a true judicial mind, an imperturbable temper, sagacity, and courage ever ready for emergencies, and the. gift of sympathising with all sorts and conditions of men "* Bishop Wilson, who preached his funeral sermon, closed it with the following words "Would to God that every one who attends his funeral may leave the world with the same fair, unstained character." + in accordance with his will, he was buried in the chancel of his church, but, the walls of the chancel having been since then taken down, his tomb is now in. the old churchyard. On it is an inscription written by Bishop Wilson. His mother, who survived him, wrote a ballad in Manx descriptive of his virtues and those of her other son. Of its 23 stanzas, it will suffice to quote the following: — 12

Bannaght ny moght, scan ny mraane hreoghe,
Fendeilagh cloan gyn ayr;
Da ny hannoonee drecym, nagh goghe
Veih treanee ghewill aggair.

The poor's blessing, the widow's help,13
Guard of the fatherless
Supporter of the weak, he'd not
Bear from tyrants a wrong.

1 Ballaugh Register.
2 Low carte without wheels
3 Stowell's Life of Bishop Wilson, pp. 415/16
4 Keble's Life of Bishop Wilson p. 151.
5 The four Gospels, the acts and part of the Prayer Book are said to have been translated by them at this time
§ Stowell, pp. 416
+., Ibid, p. 417
** Waldron. Manx Soc., Vol. XI, p. 26.
+ Keble, p. 696.
* Keble, p. 705.
+ Ibid, p. 707.
Manx Ballads (A W. Moore), PP. 202-7.
13 literally screen

For Will see Fam Hist Soc vol 7 #1 pp18-20; see also Manx Note Book vol i p90



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