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Families of Note

The Walker Family

William Walker, b.1650, a resident of the parish of Ecclesfield, York, married Mary, daughter of Joseph Wood, of Ecclesfield, who died 1708, leaving a son, Joseph Walker (1673-1729), who married twice. By his 1st wife he had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin; and by the 2nd wife, Anne, daughter of Jonathan Hargreave, three sons and three daughters.

Joseph Walker and his second wife Ann Hargreaves lived at Grenoside, in the parish of Ecclesfield. Joseph was a nailmaker and farmer. They lived at Hollin House, Hill Top, Grenoside after their marriage in 1710. Later they moved to Stubbing House, and continued to lease Hollin House as well as two cottages in Grenoside.

Joseph died in 1729 and Ann in 1741.


Aaron Walker, the youngest son of Joseph and Ann, was born at Hollin House in February, 1718. He began to experiment with metal founding in the spring of 1741 with his step-cousin John Crawshaw in a smithy at Grenoside, without much success. At this time he worked on local farms, mowing hay and shearing sheep. He married Rhoda, daughter of Bartholomew Wood. They had one son John and one daughter. Aaron died at Masbrough in 1777. John left the family firm in 1783 and is thought to have died in Russia without issue.

Jonathan Walker (1710-1778), the eldest son of Joseph and Ann, was born at Hollin House, in 1710. He married first, Sarah Platt, they had a son and two daughters:

Jonathan Walker Snr. later married Elizabeth Hodgkinson.

While continuing to manage the farms at Grenoside, he became a partner in 1746 in the ironworks at Masbrough where he was in charge of transport.

He died at Grenoside in 1778 and was buried in Ecclesfield parish churchyard.

Samuel Walker (1715-1782) was born in November 1715, also at Hollin House. The second son of Joseph and Ann, was only 13 when his father died. He qualified himself for keeping a School at Grenoside, until 1746, where he taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. In addition, Samuel supplemented his living by land surveying, and making sun dials.

He married Mary (d. 1793), the daughter of Thomas Sykes, in March 1742. They had four sons and three daughters:

The Walkers all married into families with similar industrial and nonconformist backgrounds.

Samuel Walker,(17421792). Probate documents dated 1792 state : to his wife Sarah, son Samuel and daughters Mary and Margaret - devises houses and land at Masbrough to his brothers Joshua, Joseph and Thomas Walker in trust for his son Samuel - his property at Eastwood, to his brother Joshua charged with the payment of 500 to his son Samuel - his share of their partnership to his brothers, charged with the payment of 4,000 to his personal estate - other pecuniary legacies.Will dated 14th July 1792.

Sarah Walker, widow of Samual (above) : Probate of Sarah Walker of Masbrough,date 1820 - refers to her daughters Elizabeth, wife of George Lempriere, Sarah Booth (by her first marriage), Mary wife of Hugh Parker and Margaret, wife of William Walker and her son Samuel Walker (by her marriage to Samuel Walker).

Joshua Walker,1786-1862
Joshua Walker of Clifton House and Blythe Hall married Susannah Need 2nd daughter of Samuel Need. They had 2 sons, Henry Walker (1785-1860) of Clifton, who married Elizabeth Abney (died 1850) _Henry was noted as living at Blythe Hall in 1829, and in 1831 was living at Clifton House, Rotherham; and Joshua Walker (1786-1862) living at Red Bull Wharf in London in 1829, Abchurch Lane, London in 1841, who married Ann Holford (d 1861). Susanna, his daughter was born in 1792, she married Jebediah Strutt. She died in 1846.

Thomas Walker (17561828) of Berry Hill, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire Esq. His will dated April, 1827, refers to his wife Mary and to various nieces and nephews. His estate at Eastwood, Rotherham was left to his nephew Joseph Need Walker, his mansion house at Berry Hill, to his wife Mary for her life or until remarriage, with remainder to his residuary devisees - his messuages etc. at Masbrough to his niece, Mary Ann Walker for her life.

Mary Walker, the eldest daughter of Samuel Walker (17421792) of Masborough was married to Hugh Parker (died. 1861) of Tickhill, near Doncaster. Their eldest son, John Parker (1799-1881),was a politician, born at Woodthorpe, near Sheffield, on 21 October 1799, and was educated at Repton School. He matriculated from Brasenose College, Oxford, on 6 March 1817, graduated BA 1820, and MA 1823. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 1 July 1824, and went on the northern circuit. Parker was whig MP for Sheffield from December 1832 until July 1852, when he was defeated by J. A. Roebuck and George Hadfield. He served as a lord of the Treasury from 18 July 1837 to 23 June 1841, as first secretary of the Admiralty from 9 June 1841 to 10 September 1841, as joint secretary of the Treasury from 7 July 1846 to 22 May 1849, and again as secretary of the Admiralty from 21 May 1849 to 3 March 1852. He was sworn of the privy council in 1854. Parker married, on 8 February 1853, Charlotte Eliza, the second daughter of George Vernon of Clontarf Castle, Dublin. No children have been traced. He died at his home, 71 Onslow Square, London, on 5 September 1881, and was buried at Healaugh, near Tadcaster. His wife survived him. SourceOxford DNB.

Joseph Walker of Eastwood (17521801) married in 1785 to Elizabeth (d.1823), 3rd daughter of Samuel Need of Nottingham. Children:

Sir Edward Samuel Walker, was born at Aston Hall on 17/2/1799, Educated at Rugby and St. John's College Cambridge. He was a partner in the "Lead House" of Walker, Parker & Co., Chester, managing their factory there and at Baglit. He was Mayor of Chester in 1838, being knighted while in office, in 1841 and 1848. JP for Chester and Cheshire: Deputy Lieutenant for Nottingham and Flint; High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. His first wife was Frances Valentine Stevens, daughter of George Stevens of Old Windsor Lodge. They had two sons, Edward, and Frederick and four daughters Marion, Fanny, Sophia, and Harriet. Frances died in 1864. Sir Edward died on 15/1/1874 at Berry Hill; his will was proven at Nottingham 23/2/1874. In it he left substantial annuities not only to his wife but also to her mother, Mary Hallowes, who survived him by less than two years.

Thomas Walker of Woodlands
Thomas Walker, son of William Walker (1773-1830) of Killingbeck Hall, Leeds, and grandson of Samuel(1742-1792) and Sarah Walker (Nee Nutt) of Masborough, born 19th October, 1908, was a J.P. and Deputy Lieutenant for Yorkshire. He married 8th January, 1841 Anna daughter of John Stephenson Ferguson of Ballykinnon House, Country Antrim. At some stage he lived at The Woodlands, Rotherham, now Woodlands Club Doncaster Road.

The following images show a Cannon wall, made out of faulty castings at Woodlands.

Canon Wall, Woodlands

Canon Wall, Woodlands   Canon Wall, Woodlands

Canon Wall, Woodlands   Canon Wall, Woodlands

Iron Foundries

Extract from Samuel Walker's journals from 1741 to 1760

Samuel resigned his teaching post in 1745 to concentrate on expanding a business started in 1741 in the nailers smithy at the back of the house at Grenoside with his brother Aaron. They built an air furnace and were successful in remelting pig iron and scrap cast-iron, and in casting pots. In 1746, he and Aaron moved to Masbrough, and built a casting house alongside the newly navigable River Don.

1748 saw the three Walker brothers forming a partnership with John Booth, a nail chapman, and they built a cementation steel furnace at Masbrough, followed the following year by a similar furnace at Grenoside.

By 1787 the Walkers had five cementation steel furnaces at Masbrough, though the production of iron products remained their chief concern. The Masbrough site was expanded in 17536 by the purchase of adjacent property in 17579 by leases of the Holmes estate. In 1766 they built their first crucible steel furnace, in Masbrough. The business was boosted by government orders for cannon obtained through the patronage of the local landowner, Charles Watson-Wentworth, second marquess of Rockingham, when he was prime minister. The Walkers' business expanded rapidly and they became the leading ironmasters in the north, concentrating on cast and bar iron, as well as sheet, slit iron, tin plate, and many articles of wrought iron. Their fame spread when they built bridges at Yarm and Sunderland. The Southwark Bridge gave them a national reputation.

In 1778 Samuel Walker, in partnership with Richard Fishwick and Archer Ward of Hull, began a white lead manufacturing business at Elswick, near Newcastle upon Tyne. Samuel Walker provided most of the capital, while his partners contributed business and practical expertise. Rising prices for lead encouraged many others to enter this trade about this time.

After the death of Samuel Walker at Masbrough, in 1782, his four sons succeeded him as partners. They opened premises at London (1785), new works at Derby (1792) and Chester (1800), and a warehouse at Liverpool (18012).

The Holmes Works were sold in 1832 to Peter Stubs. The Masbrough Works were sold as a number of varied factories by 1829.

Masbrough Meeting House and Mausoleum

Walker Mausoleum at Masbrough
Samuel and Aaron were early converts to Methodism, and about 1758 led the Calvinistic split from the Rotherham Methodist meeting. They built a meeting-house, for dissenters of the independent denomination, at Masbrough in 1762 and later a family mausoleum chiefly at their own expense. In the meeting house , is a monument to Samuel's memory, with an inscription composed by the celebrated poet, the Rev. William Mason , his intimate friend.

Rotherham Independent Academy

In 1795 Jonathan's son, also Jonathan, founded an Independent College at Masbrough to train students for the ministry; the college proved influential in the evangelical revival in the north. The academy was opened on the 5th November, 1795 under the pastoral care of Dr. Edward Williams. Read More »

Sheffield and Rotherham Bank

In 1833, after a period of uncertain trade, the Walkers' iron and steel partnership was dissolved. Some capital was invested in a Rotherham bank

During the latter half of the 18th century, the cutlery and silver-plate industry was thriving in Sheffield and Rotherham was the main centre for the manufacture of iron and steel. There was urgent need of a financial institution. Sheffield's first bank was founded in 1770 and by 1794 there were three banks; financial difficulties meant that only one survived serving an area of six miles.


On 1st December 1791 an agreement was signed to form the firm of bankers known as Messrs Walkers, Eyre and Stanley. Five of the original partners were from the Walker family; Joshua,Thomas, Samuel, Jonathan and Henry ,who were joined in the partnership by William Stanley,(later Richard) a Rotherham merchant, and Vincent Eyre, employed by the Duke of Norfolk as steward covering the northern part of his estate.

Sheffield and Rotherham Bank with offices in Sheffield and Rotherham, officially opened for business on 2nd January, 1792. The new company, known from the start by the additional title Sheffield and Rotherham Bank, conducted its business from offices in both towns, and was open daily from ten to one and three until five. Vincent Eyre provided the Sheffield premises on the corner of Fargate and Norfolk Row, and the Rotherham office opened in a building in High Street, which was leased by Joshua Walker in December 1791.

In 1836 it was transferred to a joint stock company, the Sheffield and Rotherham Joint Stock Banking Company Limited which had large establishments in Rotherham, Sheffield and Derbyshire.

Next Generations

Arthur Abney Walker, the son of Henry and grandson of Joshua, was born in 1820. He gained an interest in photography while he was studying at Edinburgh University where he met the pioneering photographer, William Henry Fox Talbot. A photography room was set up at Clifton House and he gave his collection to Clifton Museum when it opened in 1893. His second wife was Isabella Robertson. They had a daughter, Ethel, born in 1861. Arthur died in 1894.

Edith Walker
Dame Ethel Walker (18611951), painter and sculptress, was born in Edinburgh on 9th June 1861, the daughter of Arthur Abney Walker and his second wife, Isabella Robertson. Her father was a member of the firm of iron founders which built Southwark Bridge. About 1870 he settled in Wimbledon where Ethel Walker attended a private school. She had a studio in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, and a cottage at Robin Hood's Bay, where she painted in the summer, notably a series of pictures of the sea in all its moods. She attended Putney Art School in her late 20s and later she attended the School of Art at Westminster where Frederick Brown, later a professor at University College recognized her talent. She followed him to University College about 1892 for two years. About this time she visited Spain and Paris and met George Moore who introduced her to the Impressionists.

Her early painting owes a great deal to Brown and to the New English Art Club. Typical of her work at this time is Angela, 1899, her first exhibited work. In the early 1900s she broke away from the New English tradition, and developed a new and individual style inspired by her study of Impressionism and her poetic vision of the golden age. Perhaps her most individual work,inspired by her vision of a golden age, notably the Zone of Hate and the Zone of Love which she presented to the Tate Gallery in 1946.

During her lifetime she exhibited a great deal at the New English Art Club, and at the Royal Academy She was one of the most distinguished women artists of her day in England and was appointed C.B.E. in 1938 and D.B.E. in 1943. Her work is well represented in the Tate Gallery, wwhere there is a self-portrait, and in many provincial museums. She died in London 2 March 1951.

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Masbrough Chapel and Walker Mausoleum »

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