On 17 May 1838 at Launceston, Tasmania, one of my fourth great aunts, Theresa Susannah Eunice Snell Chauncy (1807-1876), married John Walker (1796-1855), a retired officer of the Royal Navy. He was forty-two; she was thirty-one.

The Naval Biographical Dictionary compiled in 1849 by William Richard O’Byrne, has a brief account of Walker’s career.

At the age of ten or so, he entered the Royal Navy on 9 May 1806 as a First class volunteer [cadet] on the Swallow sloop (387 tonnes, 121 men) under Captain Alexander Milner. The Swallow patrolled the Channel and the coasts of Spain and Portugal. He attained the rating of midshipman in early 1809.

In August 1809, five months later, he was transferred to HMS Norge, a 74-gun third rate ship of the line. The Norge was commanded as follows:

  • 1808 – 1809 Captain Edmund Boger
  • 1810 – 1811 Captain John Sprat Rainier
  • 1811 Captain William Waller
  • 1812 – 1814 Captain Samuel Jackson
  • 1814 – 1815 Captain Charles Dashwood

Walker served on the Norge off Lisbon, at the defence of Cadiz, in the Mediterranean, in the North Sea, and on the North American and West India stations. From late 1813 held the rank of Master’s Mate, a midshipman who had passed the exam for Lieutenant, and was eligible for promotion when a vacancy became available. In 1814-15 he took part in the operations against New Orleans. HMS Norge was paid off in August 1815. On leaving the Norge Walker was presented with a commission bearing the date 17 February 1815. He was on half-pay from 1815.

In 1821 the crew of the Norge and other members of an 1814 convoy shared in the distribution of head-money arising from the capture of American gun-boats and sundry bales of cotton. In 1847 the Admiralty issued a clasp (or bar) marked “14 Dec. Boat Service 1814” to survivors of the boat service, including the crew of the Norge, who claimed the clasp to the Naval General Service Medal.

HMS ‘Norge’ (captured from the Danes 1807) off Pendennis Castle. 1811 watercolour by artist W.H.
In the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London Object: PAF5858

When John Walker married Theresa Chauncy on 17 May 1838 in Launceston, Tasmania, the Launceston Advertiser of 24 May 1838 reported:

MARRIED.—At St. John's Church, on the 17th inst., Lieut. JOHN WALKER, R.N., to THERESA, daughter of W.S. CHAUNCY, Esq., of London.

John and Theresa Walker moved to Adelaide, where John Walker carried on business as a general merchant and shipping agent. The Walkers established a farm called Havering on the banks of the River Torrens.

Havering about 1839 pastel on paper by Theresa Walker. Havering was a farm established by the Walkers on the banks of the River Torrens, Adelaide.

John Walker chaired a local landowners meeting and in 1839 the village of Walkerville was named after him.

From The Colonist (Sydney, NSW), Saturday 19 January 1839, page 3:

WALKERVILLE.-At a recent meeting of the proprietors of the preliminary section on the Torrens, immediately adjoining North Adelaide, purchased from Governor Hindmarsh for 1100l,. and now laid out by Messrs, Hindmarsh and Lindsay, surveyors, as a village, containing 100 acre allotments, it was proposed that the name of Walkerville should be given to the property, in compliment to our excellent colonist, Captain Walker, R. N., who is also a considerable proprietor. The proposal was agreed to unanimously; and Walkerville promises speedily to rival Hindmarsh Town, and become the most delightful suburb of Adelaide. Allotments, we are informed, are selling in both villages at from 25l. to 50l. each, according to situation

During the 1840s, John Walker fell victim to overspeculation in land value and a South Australian financial depression. He was imprisoned briefly for debt in 1841. In 1849 he left the colony with wife Theresa to take up a government position in Tasmania.

John Walker painted in 1846 by his sister-in-law Martha Berkeley (Theresa’s sister). The painting is now hanging in the Art Gallery of South Australia.

John Walker died 8 January 1855. From the Hobart Colonial Times of 11 January 1855:

On Monday, the 8th of December, at Government Cottage, Launceston, LIEUT. WALKER, R.N , Port Officer, aged 58 years, deeply lamented by a large circle of friends, whose esteem he had gained by his affability of manner, and his undeviating rectitude in the discharge of his duty The funeral will leave Government Cottage on Wednesday, the 10th instant, at 4 p m. [Should be January but misreported in newspapers.]

From the The Cornwall Chronicle of 10 January 1855 and repeated in the Adelaide Times 27 January 1855 :

DEATH OF LIEUT. JOHN WALKER, R.N.
The death of this gentleman, who was formerly a well known merchant of this city, is thus recorded in the Launceston Cornwall Chronicle of the 10th inst. :—
It is our painful duty to record the death on Monday evening, of Lieutenant John Walker, who for some years past has filled the appointments of Port Officer of Hobart Town, and Harbour Master of this port. Lieutenant Walker, as will be seen by the following extract from O'Byrne, has been on half-pay since 1815. He commanded in the mercantile marine, trading to India and these colonies, until about the year 1839, when he removed to Adelaide, and entered largely into mercantile transactions, in which not being successful he returned to this colony, where he has since been employed in the Port Office department. Lieutenant Walker was of amiable temperament, and accommodating and courteous in the discharge of his official duties. In private life he was the warm hearted friend and excellent companion. He lived respected and died lamented. O'Byrne furnishes the following brief sketch of Lieutenant Walker's naval career :—
WALKER (Lieut. 1815, F-P., 10 ; H-P., 31.) — John Walker, (a) entered the Navy 9th May, 1806, as Fst-cl. Vol. on board the Swallow sloop, Capt. Alex. Milner, employed in the channel, and off the coast of Spain and Portugal. In August, 1809, five months after he had attained the rating of Midshipman, he removed to the Norge, 74; and in that ship commanded by Capts. John Sprat, Rainer, and Chas. Dashwood, he continued to serve off Lisbon, at the defence of Cadiz, in the Mediterranean, and North Sea, and on the North American and West India stations, until August, 1815 —the last 19 months in the capacity of Master's Mate. He took part, in 1814 15, in the operations against New Orleans, including the Battle of Lake Borgne in 1815. On leaving the Norge he was presented with a commission bearing date 17th February, 1815. He has since been on half-pay.

John Walker and his wife had no children, and he appears never to have made a Will. After his death his widow lodged a claim for oustanding half-pay from the navy. She received 28 pounds 5 shillings.

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