[Rev.] George Walker (1618-90)


b. prob. Co. Tyrone [poss. Stratford-upon-Avon]; son of George Walker of Yorkshire who was appt. Chancellor of Armagh through infl. of his wife, Ursula Stanhope [see Earls of Chesterfield]; ed. prob. Glasgow Univ.; m. Isabella Maxwell of Finebrogue; held parishes of Lissan, Desterlyn and and Donoghmore [Donoughmore], 1669; raised regiment in Dungannon and visited Lundy in Derry, 1688-69;

stationed at Omagh; reached Derry after evacuation of Dungannon; made joint-Governor with Major Henry Baker, on the flight of Lundy, 19 April; charged with commissariat; house saved from rough handling by intervention of Baker when his private house stock of ‘beer, mum, and butter’ was raided by an irate crowd whom Baker quietened; shared governorship with Michelburne on death of Baker; kept diary of events subsequently issued A True Account of the Siege of Londonderry (1689);
sent to London to report to king and parliament and carried loyal address to King William in London [var., to petition for widows and orphans]; honoured at Glasgow and Edinburgh; raised 16,000 for relief and repair of city muniments; meets William III at Barnet, nr. London; preferred by William to bishopric of Derry during life of incumbent; returned to Ireland via Dublin; fought at the Boyne before taking up his see; said to have died from a shot through the body when going to the assistance of Gen. Schomberg at the Boyne passage (‘What took him there?’ said William III);
bur. on battle-field but latter reinterred by his widow; his Account, attributing the central role in the defence of Derry to himself, was hotly disputed by Rev. John MacKenzie [q.v.] in his Narrative of the Seige of Londonderry (1690), charging him with overlooking the actions of the Presbyterians and pretending to the rank of Governor; Walker replied in Champion Foyl’d [or] Vindication (1689), purporting to be the witness of a friend though actually by himself, while Dr. John Vesey supplied The False Libel (1690) in his defence;
the Account translated into several European languages; Walker is the chief villain of John Banim’s The Boyne Water (1826) and a central character in John Buckstone’s Relief of Londonderry (1831), as well as ‘that holy man of Bible and bullet’ in J. S. le Fanu’s The Fortunes of Colonel Torlogh O’Brien (1847); a contemporary portrait was made by Sir Godfrey Kneller on the king’s command in London, showing Walker with the Bible open at the 20th chapter of Exodus in one hand and a sword in the other, garbed in purple folds with a crimson sash with a pistol at his waist; the 90 ft. “Walker Monument”, on which he holds a bible and points out across the Foyle, was erected in 1828 and blown up by IRA in 1973; prominently featured in Ulster Museum “Kings” exhibition, 1990. RR ODNB DIB OCIL

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  • True Account of the Siege of London-Derry. By the Rev. Mr. George Walker, Rector of Donoghmoore in the county of Tirone, and late governour of Derry in Ireland. (London: Robert Clavel & Ralph Simpson , in St. Paul's Church-yard 1689), 59pp., 4°; Do. [The second corrected edition] (London: Clavel & Simpson 1689), 48, 41-59, [1]pp. [i.e., 67pp.], 19cm./4° [Wing W352]; Do. [Third corrected edition], 59pp.;
  • Vindication ... [&c.] (London: Clavel & Simpson 1689), 225pp. [Wing W350];
  • Nicholas Bernard & George Walker [respect.], The Whole Proceedings of the Siege of Drogheda to Which is Added a True Account of the Siege of Londonderry (Dublin: printed by R. Reilly on Cork Hill for S. Hyde bookseller Dame Street M.DCC XXXVI), 178pp.
Minor writings
  • A new letter from London-Derry: giving a farther account of the late good success, obtain'd by the protestants in Ireland, against the French and Irish papists: with the speech of that reverend divine, and protestant champion, Mr. VValker, to the soldiers of that garrison, before they made that last great sally upon the enemy (London: W. Downing 1689), 1 sh.; 2 cols. [copy in Bodleian; Early English Books Online].
  • The Christian champion, or, A second sermon preach'd to the besieged Protestant soldiers in London-Derry / by that learned and loyal Christian commander Collonel Walker; before a vigorous sally against the French & Irish enemies ([London?]: printed for P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, 1689), 10 pp. [21cm.; license by Stat. Off., July 30th 1689 - on t.p. verso].
  • A Sermon [on Judges 20, vii.] Being an Incouragement for Protestants: or a happy prospect of glorious success: with exhortations to be valiant against our enemies, in opposing the bloody principle of papists, and errors of popery, &c. Occasionally on the Protestants victory over the French and Irish papists before London-Derry, in raising that desperate siege, a glorious prospect of the Protestants happiness, &c. By Mr. Walker minister, and governor of the city. (Printed at London and re-printed at Edinburgh 1689), 11pp.
  • Hallelujah, or a thanksgiving-sermon : preached in St. Maries, the cathedral church of London-Derry, on the miraculous deliverance, and timely relieving that city, by Major General Kirk, to which is added, a letter to Count Schomberg: with speeches and prayers, by that eminent Protestant and divine champion, Col. Walker. Licensed and entred according to order (London: printed for Michael Johnson in Litchfield, MDCLXXXIX. [1689]), 8, [4]pp., 4° [ESTC R188905].
  • A True Account of the Present State of Ireland: giving a full relation of the new establishment made by the late King James, as it was presented to the right honble [sic] the Earl of Shrewsbury, His Majesties most honourable Privy Council : with an account of what sums of money, arms, and number of officers arrived there from France : together with the state of Derry and Enniskilling and several other affairs relating to that kingdom, particularly of the proceedings of their Parliament there / by a person that with great difficulty left Dublin, June the 8th 1689 (London: Edward Jones for Robert Clavel [...] MDCLXXXIX [1689]), [4], 36pp. [Wing W349; original in Huntington Library signed: G. Walker].
Contemporary translations
  • Kurtze Beschreibung der hart belagerten Stadt London-Derry in Irrland ... Durch den darinn gewesenen Commendanten G. W. ... beschrieben ... Nebenst dessen Conterfait wie auch der Stadt Situation und Belagerung. Nach dem zu Londen gedruckten Exemplar (Hamburg 1689).  
Reprint Editions
  • A True Account of the Siege of London-derry: By the Rev. Mr. George Walker, rector of Donaghmore in the county of Tyrone, and late governor of Derry in Ireland (Dublin: Printed for S. Hyde, Bookseller, Dame-Street, M.DCC.XXXVI [1736; i.e. 1791]) , 2, iii, [1], 58pp., 8° [Preface dates Derry 1791; in fact a rep. by George Douglas, in Derriana: a collection of papers relative to the siege of Derry, Londonderry, 1794].
  • Walker’s Diary of the Siege of Derry, in 1688-89 [rep. of True account of the Siege of London-Derry] (Londonderry: James Hempton 1887), 103pp., ill. [1 lf. of pls.], 17cm. [from corrected 2nd edition of 1689, with reprint of original t.-p.]; Do., with preface by Hempton (Londonderry: Hempton 1895) [Pref. p11.], and Do. (James Hempton 1907), with “The Siege of Derry” by Mrs. Alexander, pp.99-103.
  • Philip Dwyer, ed. The Siege of Londonderry in 1689: As Set Forth in the Literary Remains of George Walker, D.D., which are now first collected, and comprise [... &c., see details] (London: E. Stock 1893), 225pp., ill. [5 pls., inc. ports., map.; 23cm.]; Do. (Hempton 1895), 103pp,.; Do., viz., Account &c. [rep. of 1689 edn.], 63pp., with Vindication, pp.67-83 and notes [by Dwyer], pp.117-249; and Do., with a new intro. by E. R. R. Green [Philip Dwyer, ed.] (Belfast: QUB/IIS 1971), vii,[1], 255pp., ill. [5 pls., 1 fold., geneal. table, map, ports.]

Philip Dwyer, ed. The Siege of Londonderry in 1689: As Set Forth in the Literary Remains of George Walker, D.D., which are now first collected, and comprise [... &c.] (London: E. Stock 1893), 225pp - Contents:

1. A True Account of the Siege; 2. A Vindication of the True Account; 3. A Letter on the Treachery of Lundy; 4. Other official letters; 5. Sermons, prayers, and speeches during the siege. With notes, original, and selected from the best authorities on the subject. Note: Dwyer’s edition reprints two original title-pages: 1. A True Account of the Siege of London-Derry ... The second edition corrected. London, Printed for R. Clavel, and R. Simpson, 1689 [imprimatur on facing page]; 2. A Vindication of the True Account of the Siege of Derry in Ireland ... London, Printed for R. Clavel, 1689.

Related texts
  • An Apology for the ailures sharg'd on the Reverend Mr. George Walker's printed Account of the late siege of Derry (London 1689) [addressed to John Mackenzie].
  • John Vesey, Mr McKenzye’s Narrative of The Siege Of London Derry, A False Libel, in Defence of Dr. G. Walker, Written by His Friend in His Absence (London 1690).
  • The power of Protestant religious principle in producing a national spirit of defence, exemplified in a diary of the siege of London-Derry: Written by the Rev. George Walker, D.D. who commanded the garrison during the siege. Now published, as a useful lesson to the present times, to which is prefixed, a prefatory address to the public, by the editor. (London: Printed for L. Davis and C. Reymers, against Gray's-Inn, Holborn, MDCCLVIII. [1758]), xii, x, 73 [1]pp.
  • The Protestant's crums of comfort: containing I. Prayers and meditations; with ejaculations for every day in the week, and other occasions. II. Thanksgivings for deliverances from Popery, tyranny, and arbitrary power. III. The rebellion in Ireland and massacre of Paris. IV. The learned Bishop Usher's prophecy, concerning Ireland, and the downfall of Rome. V. Advice to the late besieged in London-Derry, under that reverend divine and valiant commander, Coll. George Walker. (London : printed for N. Boddington, at the Golden Ball in Duck-lane 1690), [6], 155, [7]pp., ill [3 lvs. of pls., port.], 12°; and Do. [4th edn.] (1700).
Adversus Walker
  • Mr J. Mackenzye's Narrative of the Siege of London Derry a false libel: in defence of Dr G. Walker. Written by his friend in his absence (London 1690) [A Narrative of the Siege of London-Derry: or, the late memorable transactions of that city, faithfully represented, to rectifie the mistakes, and supply the omissions of Mr. Walker's account. ... Passages relating to other parts of Ulster and Sligo are also inserted, &c.], 4°.  

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Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica, Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, pp.617-20; Thomas Witherow, Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 [1873] (4th edn. Belfast: William Mullan 1913) [infra]; W. S. Kerrr, George Walker, Governor of Derry: A Vindication (Belfast: Erskine Mayne 1907), 48pp.; W. S. Kerr, Walker of Derry (for the author 1938), ills.

See also Karen A. Holland, ‘Disputed Heroes: Early Accounts of the Siege of Londonderry’, in New Hibernia Review, 18, 2 (Summer 2014), pp. 21-41.

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Thomas Witherow, Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 [orig. pref. 1873] (4th edn. Belfast: William Mullan 1913); ‘The Jacobite army did not upon the whole behave in a very cruel or discreditable manner, considering the power in their hands and the amount of provocation they received’ [362]; ‘No massacre [such as might have] took place’ [363]; ‘Walker blew his own horn ... designedly shuffles Mitchelburne aside’; ‘The False Libel attributed to Dr John Vesey, from Coleraine [became Anglican minister] whom Walker had as friend in London, and whose encouragement dictated the form of the True Account.’

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Letter dedicatory to William and Mary’: ‘[...] safety of those Protestants, whom the fury of the Papists drove into Londonderry’. Text, ‘a true account of the present state of Ireland’, being a letter [with papers] from one lately arrived with difficulty from Dublin, pp.85-104, ending with note referring to ‘Apology [which] discovered so much ignorance, malice, and falsehood that it is not worth the notice’; A Sermon, to the text ‘the Sword of the Lord of Gideon’ (Judges, 7:20), preached at end of siege and printed London and Edinburgh [here pp.105-116]; refers to ‘popish cruelty in the poor Kingdom of Ireland ... anno 1641 ... Hellish rage and the natural cruelty of the Papist, they by inhuman torments massacred no less than 200,000 English Protestants of all sexes, in so much that the dead bodies, not being suffered by the Priests to be buried, created a contagion and in some measure took revenge on the murderers ... rape, deflowerment ... &c.’ (Diary of Siege in 1688-89, ed. Philip Dwyer, Derry: James Hempton 1895, pp.117-249.) [Concludes with notes by Dwyer.]

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Diary: On facing the problem of feeding the 30,000, exclusive of the garrison, shut up in Derry - and facing an army of 10,000: ‘It did beget some disorder among us, and confusion, when we looked about us, and saw what we were doing; our enemies all about us, and our friends running away from us. A garrison we had, composed of a number of poor people frightened from their own homes, who seemed more fit to hide themselves than to face an enemy. When we considered that we had no persons of any experience in war among us, and those very persons that were sent to assist us had so little confidence in the place, that they no sooner saw it than they thought fit to leave it; that we had but few horse to sally out with, and no forage; no engineers to instruct us in our works; no fire-works, not so much as a hand-granado to annoy the enemy; not a gun well mounted in the whole town; that we had so many mouths to feed, and not above ten days' provisions for them in the opinion of our former governors; that every day several left us, and gave constant intelligence to the enemy ; that they had so many opportunities to divide us, and so often endeavoured it, and to betray the governors; that they were so numerous, so powerful and well-appointed an army, that, in all human proba- bility, we could not think ourselves in less danger than the Israelites at the Red Sea. When we considered all this, it was obvious enough what a dangerous undertaking we had ventured upon. But the resolution and courage of our people, and the necessity we were under, and the great confidence and dependence amongst us on God Almighty, that he would take care of us and preserve us, made us overlook all those difficulties.’ (Quoted in T. Crofton Croker, Historical Songs of Ireland, 1841; citing John O’Driscol, History of Ireland [Longman Rees Orme Brown and Green], 2 vols., 1827, Vol. II [p.14ff.]; Croker, op. cit., p.35.)

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No more doubt: ‘Mr Walker easily saw the Danger of this, and finding it was occasioned by Discourses of Mr Cole, he ordered him immediately to be confined; and being examined, he unriddles the Mystery, and gave all People Satisfaction, so that they remained in no more doubt about their Governor.’ (p.146.) (Account of the Siege of Londonderry, extacted from The Whole Proceedings of the Siege of Drogheda to Which is Added a True Account of the Siege of Londonderry, by Nicholas Bernard and George Walker [respect.] (Dublin: printed by R Reilly on Cork Hill for S Hyde bookseller Dame Street M.DCC XXXVI), 178pp., of which Part II (from p.108) is Account of the Siege of Londonderry [1689], by the Rev. Mr George Walker, Rector of Donoghmoore [sic] in the County of Tyrone and late Governor of Derry in Ireland, Dublin MDDCCXXXVI). Note: Hyde’s booklist comprises some 50 titles incl. Irish Historical Library, Clarendon’s History, Old Irish Statutes.

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Dictionary of National Biography [ODNB] gives dates as 1618-1690; son of George Walker, of Yorkshire, made chancellor of Armagh through infl. of his wife, Ursula Stanhope; b. prob. Co. Tyrone though some say Stratford-upon-Avon (Ware, Irish Writers, ed., Harris; Wood, Life, ed. Clark, iii, p.327); ed. Glasgow (name not recorded in Muniments); m. Isabella Maxwell of Finebrogue; parishes of Lissan and Desterlyn, 1669; Donghmore, nr. Dungannon, 1674; church rased in civil war; built large thatched cottage, 1683; visited London 1686; raised regt. at Dungannon and visited Lundy in Derry, winter 1688-89; Lundy evacuates Dungannon, Walker stationed in Omagh; reaches Derry and with difficulty enters; Lundy’s escape connived in, 19 April; Walker joint-gov. with Baker, rank of Col. over 900 men, though chiefly in charge of Commissariat; records that the Presbyterian ministers ‘kept the people very obedient and quiet’; Baker ill, appoints Michelburne, who shares Governorship with Walker on Baker’s death; after the siege, Walker carries loyal address to King William in London; at Glasgow and Edinburgh honoured; met [King] at Barnet near London; honoured and granted moneys; made bishop of Derry though the incumbent (to be translated) still living for some months; returned to Ireland via Dublin; fell at the Boyne river passage, the King reputedly saying ‘What took him there?’ (though other accounts say not, and that he went to the help of Schomberg when wounded); buried there, but his bones later transfer to another grave and church by his widow [unless other bones]; a monument raised in Derry 1828, with his statue, holding a bible and point out to Lough Foyle; True Account, in diary form, 3 edns. from Sept. 1689; trans. German (Hamburg) and Dutch (Antwerp) [BL; Mackenzie’s answer in the Narrative goes so far as to say that Walker was not governor at all; does not name Presbyterian ministers whom he says took a larger part than acknowledged; Walker omits giving credit to Murray and others who acted heroically; Bibliography: Philip Dwyer (Siege, 1893); Thomas Witherow DD, Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 (3rd edn. 1885).]

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R. F. Foster, Modern Ireland (London: Allen Lane 1988), gives bio-note: b. Co. Tyrone, ed. Glasgow, rector of Donoughmore, 1674; raised regt. at Dungannon, 1688; joint-Gov. of Derry with Major Henry Baker on deposition of Lundy. Received as hero in London after raising the siege. True Account (1690) provoked alternative versions. Died at b. of Boyne before taking up bishopric of Londonderry.

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Library catalogues

University of Ulster Library holds Rev. Phillip Dwyer, ed., Siege of Derry 1689/1893, with Vindication (Stock 1893); facs. Account, 2nd ed. (London: Clavel and Simpson 1689), and Vindication (Clavel & Simpson 1689), MOR DA945; Do., new intro. E. R. R. Green (Wakefield 1907), vii [1], 255, 5 pl., 1 fold. ill; genealogical table, maps, ports; facs. of Stock ed. 1893; also facs. 1971 for Institute of Irish Studies, COL DA945; Walker, Diary of Siege in 1688-89 (Derry: James Hempton 1895), 103pp, rep. from A True Account (London: Robert Clavel & Ralph Simpson 1689), MOR DA945. Walker, Diary of Siege in 1688-89 (Derry: James Hempton 1895), 103pp, rep. from A True Account (London: Robert Clavel & Ralph Simpson 1689), MOR DA945. Also, John MacKenzie ?1648-1696, Memorial of the Siege of Derry [and] its Vindication, with intro. and notes by W. D. Killen (Belfast & London: Aitchison, Hamilton, Adams, 1861), facs. of A Narrative of the Siege of London-derry to rectify the mistakes and supply the omissions of ‘Mr Walker’s Account’ and ‘Dr Walker’s invisible champion foil’d, or an app[endix] to the late narrative of the Siege of Derry’, MAGEE, Irish I/670.

University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds reprint of Walker’s Diary of the Siege of Derry in 1688-89 (Derry 1887, 1907); The Siege of Londonderry in 1689 ... as set forth in the literary remains of George Walker [ed. Dwyer] (1893).

Belfast Linen Hall Library holds a literature surrounding the True Account, incl. Apology for the failures charged on the Rev. George Walker’s printed account of the late Siege of Derry in a letter to the Undertaker of a more accurate narrative of the Siege.

Marsh’s Library, Dublin, holds a copy of True Account of the Siege of London-Derry (London: Robert Clavel & Ralph Simpson 1689), 4o [Wing W350].


Hyland Books (Cat.; Dec. 1996) lists Phillip Dwyer, Siege of Derry in 1689 as Set Forth in the Literary Remains of ... George Walker, with new intro. by E. R. R. Green [1st iss. 1971; but note err. given Green’s obit. 1958] [Hyland 219; 1995]. Siege of Londonderry in 1689, As Set Forth in the Litererary Remains of George Walker (1893); W. S. Kerr, Walker of Derry (for the author 1938), ills.

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: Walker appears as an inset (left upper) in the tapestry of the Relief of Londonderry in the Irish House of Lords (now Bank of Ireland), College Green; he is also a character in Banim’s Boyne Water. A medal of Walker was struck by William Stephen Mossop for the for Prentice Boys Club. A portrait of Walker in oil by an unknown hand is held in the National Portrait Gallery (UK). See Anne Crookshank and the Knight of Glin, Irish Portraits Exhibition (Ulster Museum 1965).

E. E. R. Green, ed., facs. rep. Irish Studies Institute (1971). Note that the narrative is in the third person; the Vindication, purporting to be by one who can say, ‘I have been so often with Mr Walker ... &c.,’ [1], is plainly by him also. True Account [Diary], pp.11-63; Vindication, pp.69-104; Sermon, pp.105-116.

James Cahalan, Great Hatred, Little Room, The Irish Historical Novel (Syracuse UP/Gill 1983), George Walker, the chief villain of The Boyne Water [by John Banim], is for [J. S.] le Fanu in The Fortunes of Colonel Torlogh O’Brien, A Tale of the Wars of King James (M’Glashen 1847), ‘that holy man of Bible and bullet’. (p.75.)

Variant dates: 1618-1690 & ?1645-1690 (UULib. Catalogue); b.1618 (ODNB).

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