George William Walker
St Bees Dead of the First World War
George William Walker
Killed by sniper France 1916, aged 18
Mr. lan Daglish of Moor Row owns a bound set of copies of “Boy’s Own Paper” which once belonged to Private George Walker. They are dated from October 1909, when George would have been eleven, and the inscription inside records that they were given to Mr. Daglish’s father John Daglish by Mrs. B.W. Walker, who was George’s step-mother. Evidently she had also been John Daglish’s mother’s teacher.
On the flyleaf Mrs. Walker has written – “This Book belonged to George W Walker, my dear little stepson. He bought the paper weekly out of his pocket money which I gave him and I got it bound for him – to his delight. George fell in the War June 15th 1916. He was then only 18 years of age – Private G. Walker 8th Seaforths – and was shot by a Sniper one moonlight night when repairing the wire round the Trenches.”
Members of the Walker family in Australia have researched the family’s connection with Rottington.
I am indebted to the Australian branch of the family for these notes.
The first Walker known to have farmed at Rottington was William, born 1708. He originated in Haile, moving to Rottington in or shortly after the 1740s. His son Henry (born 1731) inherited, to be followed in succeeding generations by three more Henrys, born 1764, 1797 and 1854.
Our George William Walker was the youngest of the five sons of the 1854 Henry. They were an enterprising family: the eldest son (yet another Henry, born 1885) settled in Canada, and Alfred (1890) and Rupert (1894) in Australia. The second son, Daniel (1886), visited both Canada and Australia, but returned to St. Bees to become (amongst other things) lighthouse-keeper and a member of the Coastguard. He lived for a time at Tomlin View.
George William Walker’s mother was Dora Armitage Smith, whose father the Rev. Daniel Smith had spent some time in St. Bees prior to Dora’s marriage to Henry in 1883. Dora was 19 when she married, and 40 when in 1904 she died of peritonitis. At that time George William Walker would have been 5 or 6.
Before 1909 Henry Walker remarried, his second wife being Elizabeth Watson, a schoolteacher at either St. Bees or Sandwith school. From then on she was known as Betty Watson Walker, or “Bee”. It is her inscription that we have in her stepson’s “Boys’ Own Annual”. Family members in Australia have always believed that George William Walker misrepresented his age in order to enlist. They still hold a number of family letters and papers.