John Johnston WALKER, 1848 – 1891

This is one in a series of blog posts about some old papers of the WALKER family, from Kirkliston, West Lothian, Scotland. You can see a list of these papers HERE.

John Johnston WALKER
Photo of John Johnston WALKER, taken (I think) shortly before he left for New Zealand in 1869.

Having mentioned him, and included his photo, in a previous piece, I want to post a bit more about this 2x Gt-Uncle, John Johnston WALKER. To my present knowledge, at least on the WALKER side of my family, John is the closest relative to my direct ancestry (i.e. a son/daughter, brother/sister, uncle/aunt) to have emigrated from the British Isles.

What little I know about him is mostly contained in the WALKER family history, first written by my Granddad (John’s nephew) in the 1950’s. I copy the little section written about John, here;

John Johnston Walker was born 21st January 1848. He went to New Zealand in 1869 [aged 21] and was manager of a large Sheep Station at Edendale until 1877, when he decided to start on his own, and took up a virgin block of land on the Otamakapua Block. In 1891 he went to Feilding to have treatment for a severe attack of fever and was treated by a Doctor Charlton without success, and died on 19th November 1891. On his retirement from the sheep station, where he was most popular, he was presented with a very handsome gold watch and chain.

I’m not 100% sure about the locations mentioned, particularly “Edendale”, of which I can find 3 identified places with that name, around New Zealand! (Search for “Edendale”, HERE)

On a trip to New Zealand in 2013, my uncle, David, visited Feilding and took the following photos (note; these are scans of the prints I have from him);

The gravestone at Feilding cemetery reads;

“In Memory of
John J. Walker,
born at Kilpunt, Linlithgowshire,
Scotland.
Died at Feilding, N.Z., 19th Nov. 1891,
Aged 44 Years”

scan0003John’s death is also recorded on a gravestone in Kirkliston churchyard, West Lothian, Scotland, along with his parents, infant brother, and 3 of his sisters.

I have found just one document about John Johnston WALKER among the WALKER family papers; a letter home from him, responding to news of his father’s death in 1881. (See below for transcription and notes).

Page 1; letter-home-from-john-j-walker_july-1881_p1_300dpiTranscription of Page 1 (right side);

Lyndhurst*
July 15th 1881
My Dear Mother,
I am in receipt of ~ Tom’s letter conveying the ~ sad news of my Father’s death. ~ It is certainly a very solemn ~ [invitation] we have received ~ from Him with whom we ~ have to do. I feel the loss ~ very much for your sake ~ & for mine but we must ~ bow ourselves submissively ~ before Almighty God and ~ say ‘Thy will be done’.

Regarding the estate of ~ my late Father, I do not ^[think] it ~ would be prudent to advise ~ you, as I lack a knowledge ~ of circumstances. One thing ~

Page 1 (left side);

and that is ? would Kilpunt ~ be worth keeping seeing so ~ much money has been lost ~ by farming it of late years. ~ So far as I am concerned ~[treat] me as if I was not, at ~ the same time if I can help ~ you in any way depend upon ~ me. I too have lost [heavily] ~ at farming. two years ago – ~ £800 went. but what of ~ that.

If Tom is inclined to farm the ~old place so as to keep the ~ family together let him do ~ so. But before [signing] any ~ lease, don’t forget to be pre~pared against foreign com~petition.

Now Tom*, I as your elder ~ brother would kindly advise

Page 2; letter-home-from-john-j-walker_july-1881_p2_300dpiTranscription of Page 2 (left side);

to look well to our Mother’s ~ ## comfort & happiness & ~ also to that of our sisters. ~ Don’t go hunting, or pleasure ~ seeking, but seldom: remem~ber we must try to discharge ~ our late Father’s debts, for ~ I think it is a duty of ours ~ if we com by [God’s] help ~ perform.

Some one here sent word ~ I was ill. He was mistaken ~ I kindly bid you ad[..] ~ [m…le_] Am writing in ~ haste to post for mail_

Yours Aff-ly
J. Walker
P.S. Will write next mail
for sure___
put in [p…ite] for me

Page 2 (right side);

address as formerly-

*Notes; I’m not sure of the location given at the top of the letter! There is a “Lyndhurst” west of Christchurch, on the east side of South Island. (See NZ Topo Map ).

* “Tom” – was John’s youngest brother; Thomas George WALKER (my Great-Grandfather).

Searching the internet, I have found two other documents of interest;

First; a newspaper report of John Johnston WALKER’s death, from The Feilding Star newspaper, Thurs, 19th November 1891 (via Past Papers; National Library of New Zealand);

Report in the Feilding Star newspaper, NZ, 19 Nov 1891
Newspaper report

This morning there died at Buckingham Palace, (Mr Worsfold’s boardinghouse). a settler named John Johnston Walker, who was one of the first selectors on the Otamakapua Block. Some months ago he came to Feilding for medical treatment as he was suffering from fever. Dr Charlton was unremitting in his attention and managed to cure his patient so far, but Mr Walker suffered a relapse, and lung disease rapidly developed. From the beginning Dr Charlton held ont no hopes of recovery, and the deceased was quite prepared for the fatal termination of his complaint. Mr and Mrs Worsfold showed every possible kindness and provided all that was necessary to insure the most perfect comfort of the invalid. The funeral will take place tomorrow at 10:30 am.

Second; in just the last few days (Dec. 2016) I’ve found details of John Johnston WALKER’s Will in New Zealand’s Probate records, available through FamilySearch.org. (I am unsure of FamilySearch’s copyright policy, so I won’t copy the images here! But I will add links to the page images – please click on the numbers – and I type up my own transcription of the text);

Image no. 154;

38290 ~ Dated 24 Sep 1891 ~ WILL ~ of ~ Mr John. J. Walker ~ John Prior ~ Solicitor ~ Feilding

Image 155;

A
This is the last Will and Testament of me ~ John Johnston Walker of Otamakapua in the ~ Provincial District of Wellington and Colony of ~ New Zealand. Farmer. I appoint Ernest Albert ~ Barton of Feilding in the Provincial District of ~ Wellington, Bank Agent (hereafter called “my ~ Trustee”) to be the Executer and Trustee of this ~ my will. I give devise and bequeath the ~ whole of my Real and personal property of ~ whatsoever nature or kind and wheresoever ~ situate including amongst other things my ~ interest in a perpetual Lease, moneys at the ~ Bank on deposit and open account into my ~ Trustee Upon trust that my Trustee shall sell ~ call in and convert into money the same or such ~ part thereof as shall not consist of money and ~ shall with and out of the monies produced by ~ such sale calling in and conversion and with ~ and out of such part of my personal Estate as ~ shall consist of money pay my funeral and ~ testamentary expenses and debts and shall stand ~ possessed of the residue of the said monies in ~ [burial] for my Uncle Thomas Johnston* of No.25 ~ Athol Gardens*, Glasgow, Scotland absolutely.

In Witness whereof I have to this my last Will ~ and Testament – set my hand this twenty fourth ~ day of September one Thousand Eight hundred ~ and ninety one.

Signed by the above named John ~ Johnston Walker as his last Will ~ and Testimony in the presence of ~ us both being present at the ~ same time who at his request ~ in his presence and in the ~ presence of Each other have ~ here[unto] subscribed our names ~ as witnesses.

John. J. Walker (signature)

[Clifton] [Chaelton] MB. [Clu.] […] ~ Feilding (signature)

John Prior ~ Solicitor, Feilding. (signature)

Note on Left side of the page (img.155), at 90°.;

This is the paper [w…] marked “a” referred [to] in the ~ Affidavit of Ernest Albert Barton […] this 29th day of ~ December 1891 Before me ~ […(signature)…] ~ A Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

In addition to the Will, there are 7 further images of related Supreme Court documents, which are worth a look at, but which I won’t transcribe here because they seem to yield few additional details of note!

See; Image 156; Image 157; Image 158; Image 159; Image 160; Image 161; & Image 162.

*Note; “John JOHNSTON” was a brother of John Johnston WALKER’s mother, Margaret. I think that “Athol Gardens” might be “Athole Gardens, Glasgow, G12 9BQ

I would be interested to find more details about John Johnston WALKER; like where he lived/travelled in New Zealand, and the passenger records for when he moved out there in 1869 (which I’ve started having a little look for, but not yet found anything!).

If you know of anything more about John Johnston WALKER, that you could direct me towards, then please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch. Thanks.

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