An ancestral blog by Terrell Ledbetter the 11th g-grandson of Sir John Thomas Walker and the 11th g-grandson of Chief Eagle Plume Opechancanough
I had originally written a blog about the Mystery of Samuel Thomas Walker (who I previously incorrectly indicated) was among those massacred in the Virginia Colony on March 22, 1622. After much research, I have found that Samuel Thomas Walker did not perish that day but lived in the colony until his death in 1654. However, it is possible that four of his brothers died that day of the massacre.
During research of my own Walker ancestors, I found that many family trees, internet articles and ancestral sites tended to wrongfully record the Walker ancestry across the board. Generally, many sites incorrectly used D.D. George Walker of Ireland as the patriarch of the Scottish John Alexander Walker clan. In additon, many sites incorrectly used D.D. George Walker as the patriarch of the Pennsylvania Walkers. The ancestry trees of hordes of people are incorrect. This blog attempts to clarify the different Walker trees.
The Walker lines to be discussed are as follows:
Ruddington Walkers who immigrated in two waves, 1607 to Virginia and 1720 to Delaware
Wigtown Walkers who immigrated to Pennsylvania (and Rockbridge County, Virginia) in 1726
Ayreshire Walkers who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1720
Senator Walkers who immigrated to Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1652
The story begins with the origins of one Walker line that began in Devon, England and prospered in Ruddington, England and Donoughmore, Ireland. This tree is the line to both my mother and father, so I take recording of the facts and information seriously. I will call this line the Ruddington Walkers.
Membury, Devon, England
The first Ruddington Walker in my tree, and countless others worldwide, was Robert Le Walker born about 1260 in England.
After the Normans conquered England in 1066, the French custom of using surnames began to be used throughout England. In 1285, a son was born to Robert Le Walker in Membury, Devon, England named John Thomas Walker. This was the first use of the Walker surname in our line. Traditionally Walkers were found in middle to northern England but in this line the Walkers were from southeast England, a rare occurrence. John Thomas was dubbed a knight for his deeds and took the name Sir Thomas Walker before his death. England during this time was ruled by Edward I Longshanks, the monarch featured in the film “Braveheart” as it related to the battles with Scotland and the capture and torturing of William Wallace. King Edward, I went on a Crusade to Acre in 1270 with about 1000 knights and the king found many battles with the Scots with William Wallace being captured in 1305.
A knight could be dubbed by another knight but usually was dubbed by a monarch. Once a knight, he proudly wore a white belt and golden spurs. In the Middle Ages, a knight was synonymous with warrior or nobleman. There were a strict set of rules for the knights.
mercy-humility-honor-sacrifice-fear of God-faithfulness-courage-civility
Considering the events of the time, I imagine John Thomas Walker earned his knighthood fighting for his monarch against the Scots.
Devon, England (Membury is near the south coast)
During this time the Court of the King’s Bench began to hear petitions for justice instead of the King himself. Also, Edward I Longshanks started using drawing and quartering for punishment of traitors.
This Walker line went as follows for two hundred fifty years: Sir John Thomas Walker born 1285; William John Walker 1305; Sir Simon Walker 1325; William Walker 1355; Sir William Walker 1400; Sir William Walker 1424; Sir William Walker 1454; Sir George Townshend Walker 1490; Ruddington Walker 1513 and Dr. John Thomas Walker 1535.
John Thomas Walker born in 1535 had several sons, two of which are in my family ancestral line. Gervase Walker was born in 1556 in Ruddington, England, married Mary Olivia Ealiffe and gave birth to a son Rev. George Walker who became the patriarch of my mother’s Walker ancestors. See my blog about Col. John Walker (1728-1796) concerning this family and the immigration to America in 1720. The blog about Col. John Walker outlines the story of the family line from the year 1690 until present day. Another of son of Sir John Thomas Walker was Samuel Thomas Walker and was the patriarch of my father’s Walker line.
Sons of John Thomas Walker immigrated to Virginia in 1607 and great-great grandsons of Sir John Thomas Walker immigrated to Delaware in 1720. These two lines are Ruddington Walkers and can be traced using a family tree which I have created, added to Ancestry and entitled “Descendants of Sir John Thomas Walker.” It should be noted that Sir John Thomas Walker and his wife Isabelle died in year 1592 from the plague. Dr. John and Isabelle contacted the disease from treating others with the plague. Over 20,000 Englishmen died of the plague that year.
John Thomas Walker’s son, Samuel Thomas Walker, was born in 1570 and immigrated to Colonial Virginia. It has been shown on Geni and Wiki trees that this Samuel Thomas Walker was killed by Indians at the infamous massacre at the James City Colony on March 22, 1622. This was the Walker line to my father. I originally entitled this blog “The Mystery of Samuel Thomas Walker,” However I have discovered that Samuel Thomas Walker did not die in the attacks on March 22,1622 but lived in the colony until 1654.
Oddly enough, the leader of the Powhattan Indian Confederacy attack on March 22,1622 was Chief Opechancanough (1554-1646) and he was the leader of the Pamunkey tribe. Chief Opechancanough was my 11th great-grandfather whose descendants were Cordell’s who married into my Reese tree. The Chief was captured twenty-four years later and was killed by guards while in captivity. The Pamunkey tribe was only about 1000 strong and spoke Algonquin language. His great-granddaughter, Mary Ann “Little Flower” Basket (1662-1737) married Thomas Caldwell II.
Little is known of Sir John Thomas Walker’s son, Samuel Thomas Walker, other than he was a Presbyterian Minister at the Mongegy Chapel in Ruddington. He married Elizabeth Serrell in 1605. A Roots web source stated that Thomas Walker was listed as an adventurer by the Virginia Company of London. According to some trees and information, Thomas Walker was listed as killed at Martin’s Hundred on that fateful day of March 22, 1622, along with the other 346 killed that day. Accurate reports show that Samuel Thomas Walker lived in Virginia until his death in 1654.
A supposed son of Samuel Thomas Walker, William Alexander Walker, has been often listed as a Captain; he married Elizabeth Warren who also had been born in England (1612). In some trees and information, William Alexander and Elizabeth had a daughter, Elizabeth Sarah (1657), who married Edward Johnson in 1677. Elizabeth and Edward gave birth to a son in 1697 who would be called Lord William Johnson, a Burgess who married into the family of Burgess Larkin Chew. This is the line to my father. I don’t believe there should be a “Captain” associated with William Alexander Walker. The absolute lineage for William Alexander Walker could be viewed as questionable. There was a Captain Alexander Walker in the same time period in Virginia but the lineage for him was Scottish. I will discuss the Wigtown, Scotland Walkers later in this blog. This information needs to more scrutiny.
A total of six sons of Sir John Thomas Walker and Isabel Abell immigrated to colonial Virginia in 1607 or closely thereabouts. Listing of immigrants doesn’t necessarily confirm but family history does. One son arrived on the “Godspeed” in 1607 with Captain John Smith.
Son Williiam Joseph Walker born in Ruddington, England in 1565 married Mary Briggs (1580-1607). William immigrated to Virginia in 1607 but Mary died in England just before the voyage. The family recorded that William was killed in James City during the attack of March 22, 1622. Reports from the authorities in Virginia after the massacre did indicate that William Walker perished at Weyanoke while working for George Yeardley. Weyanoke was on the James River downstream of Berkeley Hundred.
Son John Samuel Walker born in 1566 in Ruddington, England arrived in Virginia in 1607 and was killed at the Henrico Settlement on March 22, 1622. The Henrico settlement was located on a neck of land called Farrar’s Island. The neck was created by a loop in the James River and was only about 700 feet wide. There is no report of John Samuel’s death but the official report at the time was erroneous. Some of those listed as dead had been taken prisoner for ransom. Some deaths were reported as “six men and four boys” dead.
George Walker arrived in Jamestown on the “Godspeed” on May 13,1607 with Captain John Smith. His wife, Peregrine Greswell immigrated to Virginia on the third supply. George and Peregrine survived the massacre and George died in Jamestown on July 1, 1642. Colonial records verify this information. George was the first Walker in America.
Samuel Thomas Walker born in 1570 in Ruddington, England arrived in Virginia after 1607 along with his second wife, Elizabeth Serrill (born in 1585). It is believed that Thomas and Elizabeth immigrated in the 2nd Virginia Charter of 1609. Some reports that she died from complications of childbirth in Virginia in the year 1616. Samuel lived in Virginia until his death in 1654.
Robert Walker born in 1576 immigrated to Virginia after 1607 and died in the massacre of March 22,1622 at Henrico settlement.
Henry Walker born in 1578 immigrated to Virginia after 1607 and also perished on March 22, 1622.
Within the Ancestry tree I created in Ancestry entitled “Descendants of Sir John Thomas Walker,” I have included these six sons. There is missing information and is a work in progress. The tree does give a large framework of the family.
Any credible information concerning this family between 1607 and 1622 will be greatly appreciated.
These items are still mysterious, and help is needed to resolve them:
Why did the six Walker brothers immigrate?
Who were all of he children of Samuel Thomas Walker and Elizabeth Serrill?
Were Henry, Robert and John Samuel Walker married and who were their wives and children?
This is a strong example of how trees can be so incorrect and how people can blindly use someone else’s tree when there are errors present. These types of errors abound. If you have Samuel Thomas Walker and Elizabeth Serrill as the parents of Captain Alexander Walker, you are overstepping facts. The title “Captain” should not apply to Samuel’s son. If you have Samuel and Elizabeth as the parents of William Walker, you most likely be correct but further information is needed to cement.
The second part of this story continues with the sons and a daughter of Reverent George Walker who was the Governor of Derry and who died in the Battle of the Boyne. See my previous blog about Colonel John Walker about one branch of that family. Reverent George Walker was the great-grandson of Sir John Thomas Walker discussed above. While Reverent George Walker and his father, George Walker D.D., lived in Ireland for two generations, I will still refer to this family as Ruddington Walkers.
One son of Governor George Walker was John Walker I born in year 1671 in Londonderry, Ireland and died October 10,1726 at his Glebe House in Mullygruen which was adjacent to Donoughmore, County Tyrone, Ireland). John I was said to have immigrated to Delaware, America in 1720. My blog about Colonel John Walker is the story of the family from the 1690 Battle of the Boyne to post American Revolutionary War. The Last Will of John Walker I leads me to believe that he did not immigrate as his will was made on September 12,1726 in Ireland with probate dated December 15, 1726. His son John Walker II did immigrate to Delaware, and I believe this to be in 1720 because he gave birth to a son in1722 in Delaware. John I stated in his will that he wished his son John II to bury him at night in Newry Churchyard, Ireland. Did he think his son would ship to Newry for his burial? Was he of sound mind at that point? The will said he was sound of mind and weak of body. Definitely a strange statement occurred. Perhaps a dying wish to see his first son again.
Note to the effect of the wife of John Walker II: Felix Walker talked about his mother being of Dutch descent, but his mother was not Dutch nor had Dutch ancestry. Elizabeth Watson was from an early Virginia family (her great-grandfather had immigrated to Connecticut around 1650.). I believe that Felix Walker’s grandmother, John Walker II’s wife, was Dutch. The area where John Walker II settled in Delaware had been settled by a large Dutch contingency after the 1680’s. Marriages with Dutch women were not held in churches but in the home of the bride or minister. I believe this to be the reason that no records of the marriage were recorded. In my tree, I will refer to John Walker II’s wife as “Delaware Dutch.”
Immigration records indicate that John Walker II did immigrate in the year 1720 and that he was the sole member of his family. This cements that he was indeed married in Delaware after 1720. His arrival port was Baltimore.
There was a John Walker family in the Appoquinimink River area in the year 1620 with the son, also named John of the years 1643-1695. I have no idea of the origins of this family but the farm of this family was very close to the one of John Walker II who immigrated to Delaware in 1720. I have found a document of the year 1741 stating that John Walker II stood respectfully and peacefully by while he had 300 acres of land seized and transferred to John Wilson. The script, in the old English form, was difficult to read and I am sure my understanding of the document is somewhat unclear. One thing that does make it appear to be associated with John Walker II is that a previous transaction involved James Read. I don’t think this is a coincidence as John Walker II’s sister Ann Walker was married to James Read. This acreage was north of Appoquinimink River, east of Bohemia River, east of Little Back Creek and just northeast of Middleton and Odessa, Delaware (the same as recorded by descendants of John Walker I). This area is was very fertile and had access to volumes of water. John Walker II died in 1742. The complete and true story of this man remains a mystery. A friend and neighbor, William Smart, a Presbyterian Minister, who years later moved to Rutherford County, North Carolina where Felix Walker received information from William Smart concerning his grandfather John Walker II shared some crops with John Walker II. It was said that John Walker was a good, decent, simple farmer with a good reputation. William Smart claimed to be a relative of John Walker II but I have found no connection. Perhaps one to explore is perhaps John married into William’s wife’s family, the McGaughy family from Northern Ireland.
This document mentioned the deed on the land as 1694. This part gives me pause as to whether this John Walker is our John Walker II but the aforementioned date of 1741 makes me believe that this is our John Walker.
Note to all, this family did not have Alexander, nor McKnight, nor Rutherford in their names.
The second Walker line is one that I call the Wigtown (Scotland) Walkers. The geographic area of their beginning was located southwest of Dumfries and Galloway regions of Scotland. I have published a short ancestry/history story on Amazon Prime entitled “The Walker Brothers-Cornerstone of America.” This story is about the ancestry and lives of four brothers, one of which was Joe Walker, the famous Mountain Man, and Jacob Walker, the last defender to fall in the Alamo. This story discusses the entire family history of the Wigtown Walkers.
The patriarch of this family was John Alexander Walker I and his wife Jane McKnight who lived in Wigtown Bay, Wigtownshire, Scotland. He was born in 1655 and died in 1726.
For purposes of this blog, two sons of John Alexander Walker I are referenced.
The first son, John Alexander Walker II was born in 1682 in County Down, Ireland and died in 1734 Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was married to Katherine Rutherford.
The second son, Alexander McKnight Walker died in 1708 in Ireland. However, two of McKnight Walker’s sons immigrated to America along with their Uncle John Alexander Walker II on August 2, 1726, to Chester, Pennsylvania. One of McKnight Walker’s sons was John “Gunstock” Walker and the other Alexander “Swaney” Walker, a wheelwright. These are the two nephews that immigrated with Uncle John Alexander Walker II. Their cousin John Alexander Walker III would become known as “Gunmaker” Walker while in Augusta County, Virgina.
John Alexander Walker II also had four sons that immigrated with their uncle and cousins. These sons are:
John Alexander Walker III and wife Ann Houston. Ann Houston was born in New Castle, Delaware. This Houston family from Atrim, Ireland were the ancestors of General Sam Houston of Texas.
Augusta County, Virginia
John III was called “Gunmaker” and was killed by Cherokees on November 17,1778 at Walker Creek in old Augusta County, Virginia.
James Walker (1707-1787) and wife Mary McGuffey.
Samuel Walker (1714-1793) and wife Jane Patterson.
Joseph Walker (died 1722) and wife Nancy McClung
Stories of this family can be found by researching the early history of Rockbridge County, Virginia.
Here is the THING about a link between the Ruddington Walkers and the Wigtown Walkers: in the year 1705. John Alexander Walker II, wife Katherine Rutherford and children (Wigtown Walkers) moved from Scotland to Newry, Ireland. John’s nephew. John “Gunstock” Walker moved as well. They lived in Ireland for one generation before immigrated to a landing port in Delaware in 1726 before later settling in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
In Newry, Ireland, John Walker I (Ruddington Walker )was the Collector of Customs there. There is belief that John I and family attended church in Newry. In as much as John Walker I (Ruddington Walker) requested to be buried in the churchyard at Newry tells me that the Ruddington Walkers and Wigtown Walkers knew each other from tax business and the Newry Anglican church congregation. It is possible that some Ruddington Walkers and the Wigtown Walkers immigrated together to Delaware but that would be a stretch because John Walker II (Ruddington) gave birth to a son in Delaware in 1722. Upon arrival in Delaware, the Wigtown Walkers soon moved to Pennsylvania while the Ruddington Walkers stayed in Delaware. This is probably the reason why these families are confused. There are people alive today who share DNA from both Walker families.
The Walkers sailed from Strangford Bay around May,1726 and arrived at a port in Delaware on August 2, 1726. The ship was owned by and commanded by Richard Walker, a merchant from Dublin, who may have been a relative of the Wigtown Walkers. John Walker II (Ruddington Walker) appears to have left Donaughmore, Ireland just before his father’s will of September 12, 1726. Newry was only 30 miles from Strangford Bay. William Smart who was born in Middleton, Delaware in 1720 knew the John Walker II family and conveyed information to Felix Walker. I believe that John Walker II did immigrate in 1720 and married a local woman of Dutch descent.
A third Walker line that immigrated to America (Pennsylvania), has an incomplete history. I call this line the Ayrshire Walkers.
James Morgan Walker (1670 Ayrshire, Scotland-May 13,1757 Lancaster, Pennsylvania) immigrated to Pennsylvania around 1720. He lived about 50 miles from my ancestor John Walker II, above. James and two of his sons, James II and Samuel were killed by Indians on May 13,1757 at McCormicks Fort. James was killed and scalped by Indians led by French forces.
Elizabeth Walker Phillips who had married into the Scottish Walker line and had immigrated to Pennsylvania around 1698. Her husband, James Morgan Walker, and sons Sg. William Walker and Robert Walker were also killed at McCormicks Fort. Oddly enough, James Morgan Walker and two sons, James and Henry, had fought at the siege of Londonderry, Ireland in 1690. Governor George Walker had been the leader of the Anglican forces against the Catholic forces of James. It doesn’t appear that these two Walker lines are related other than they had fighters in Londonderry, Ireland. Many trees try to say James Walker, above, and Elizabeth Phillips were offspring of Governor George Walker. This is not true. No one seems to know the parents and lineage of James Walker who was killed on May 13,1757 in Pennsylvania. He is definitely not related to the Governor John Walker family nor the Scottish John Alexander Walker family.
I must state again that given the lack of credible information and the abundance of incorrect family trees shared on the web, the absolute truth of this information is not completed. If you have credible family information about the James Morgan Walker line, please share. Some people believe that this family originated in Letterkenny, Ulster, Northern Ireland. The truth of this line is in question.
Another Walker family that immigrated to America will be called the Senator Walkers. William Walker (1601-1657) and his wife Elizabeth Lacey (1608-1757) immigrated from Lancashire, England in the year 1652 and settled in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
The second generation was Major Thomas Walker (February 19, 1625-1683) and wife Sarah Fleete. They were the parents of fourteen children. One of their sons was Col. John Walker (Oct. 27, 1654-April 17, 1713). He was married to Rachael Croshaw and resided in King and Queen County, Virginia.
A son of the next generation was Col. Thomas Walker (January 12, 1670-1736) and his wife Susannah Peachy of Gloucester County, Virginia. One of their sons was Dr. Thomas Walker (1715-1794) and his wife was Mildred Thornton of King and Queen County, Virginia.
Senator John Walker was born to Dr. Thomas and Mildred in 1744. He was educated at the College of William and Mary and was in the Revolutionary War where he was a Colonel serving as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington. He married Elizabeth Moore (1742-1809) and was elected as a United States Senator. John and Elizabeth (Betsy) resided in Castle Hill, Virginia. This impressive mansion was built by father Dr. Thomas Walker and was located close to where Monticello would be built.
Terrell Ledbetter republished January 26, 2023