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Orchard House at Rottington. The ancestral home of the Walker family. A copy of an original painted by Edith Walker about 1916.


The first Walker we know of at Rottington was William Walker born 1708. This is the first and earliest known of our ancestors at Rottington. We may have had others before him but to date we haven’t been able to link to any. William’s children, William, Henry, Ezekial & Eleanor were all born in Wilton, Haile, which is in a neighbouring parish, and William signed the register as the Church Warden. We are not exactly sure when William relocated to Rottington from Haile, sometime after his daughter Eleanor was born in 1742. He married Eleanor in around 1729 and to date we have been unable to find a suitable marriage for William and Eleanor, so unfortunately we have no information as to who Eleanor was before she married William.

We know that William lived at Rottington by the Manor Court Records we have and a will naming all his children and his wife Eleanor. The Manor Court Rolls or records confirm that William did in actual fact farm the land at Rottington, with his wife Eleanor mentioned and his eldest son Henry. They paid the yearly customary rent of six shillings and eight pence to the then present Lord of the Manor, James Earl of Lonsdale. In the will he gave his eldest son Henry, two fields or parcels of land called Peat Groves and Hassock’s Meadow, the rest of the estate is not named. He gave to his wife Eleanor the rest and residue of his estate and money and all his other goods and chattels to be freely possessed and enjoyed.

We don’t know if the property at Rottington was then called Orchard House and what it was like then, it was only mentioned as the 'dwelling house' in documents. The first actual description was given to the property in 1854 when a later Henry Walker died when it was referred to as ‘the house with the orchard adjoining’ in his will but it is quite possible it could have been always known by this name. William died in 1766 we know this by his will he left and is buried at St.Bees with his wife Eleanor.

1. His first and eldest son Henry Walker was born in 1731, we don’t know much about this Henry, he married Mary Cook at St.John’s Beckermet in 1771 and married into a family of 7 Cook girls. He seems to have been well known and respected in the community, he left a will of his own mentioning his granddaughters by his daughter Eleanor Walker and son in law Richard Wood.

2. William Walker (William of Wilton) his second son by Eleanor born 1734, lived and farmed at Brackenthwaite, Wilton, Haile. He married Mary Bassett in 1767 at Haile and had 3 children by Mary, Nelly, Henry and Anne Walker, Williams' father gave him five pounds of lawful money in his will. The descendants of this family line eventually go full circle through many family connections to back to the Walkers of Orchard House and Mossops of Rottington Hall.

3. Ezekial Walker born 1741 was William’s third son. We never knew anything about him till just recently when we discovered he was the famous lighthouse engineer and expert who started all the others off in the trade and was the forerunner of the famous Stevenson dynasty of lighthouse builders.  He is named in his nephew, Henry Walker’s will as Uncle Ezekial of Lynnewood, Haile and named in his father’s will and left two hundred pounds of lawful money. 

We know about some of Ezekiel's career by what is written about him such as 'Ezekiel Walker of King's Lynn, the designer of improved lighting at Hunstanton Lighthouse on the Norfolk coast' and 'North Ronaldsay was the third lighthouse the Commissioners built, being preceded by Kinnaird Head and Mull of Kintyre.  Thomas Smith, an Edinburgh lampmaker was the engineer with Ezekiel Walker, an English lighthouse designer, to advise in the initial stages. Smith was assisted by his step-son Robert Stevenson, founder of a famous family of lighthouse engineers, and grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson'

1834 - The Mechanics' Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal, and Gazette

'The method of lighting adopted universally in all British Lighthouses, namely by Argand Lamps, with paraholic reflectors was the first exemplified.  The merit of their introduction - if not invention can be is due to Mr Ezekiel Walker of Lynn.  The first lighthouse fitted with this plan was Hunstanton (pronounced by locals as 'Hunston') on the Norfolk coast and was fitted up under Mr. Walker's personal superintendance in 1778 but it was nearly 20 years later before the plan came into universal use'.

Ezekiel died 26 February 1834 at Kings Lynn in Norfolk and left a will himself in this will he names his nephew as Henry Walker of Rottington in Cumberland.  So far we think he was firstly married to Sarah Street in 1770,  then Elisabeth Clarke in 1804 who is named as his 'late wife in his will'.

4. Eleanor Walker was William’s only daughter she married Clement Mossop of Rottington Hall in 1766. A document records that ‘all the niceness came into the family from the Walkers’. Her father William left her two hundred pounds of lawful money in his will. Eleanor married Clement 2 months after her father William died in June 1766.

Henry Walker of Rottington (1731- 1804)

Henry Walker as I have discussed earlier above married Mary Cook at St.John’s Beckermet in 1771. The ‘Henry’s’ seemed to be known as 'elder' or 'younger' down through the generations and every generation had a Henry Walker. We don’t know a great deal about this Henry but we do know he had two children, Henry born 1764 and a daughter Eleanor who married Richard Wood. Henry farmed at Rottington just as his father had before him, he died in 1804, his wife Mary in 1815 and they are buried at St.Bees.

When Henry died in 1804 he gave his son Henry all freehold, leasehold, real and personal estate, which is not mentioned by name. He leaves a legacy of 100 pounds to each of his seven granddaughters by Richard and Eleanor Wood.

1. Son Henry was born 1764, he was also well noted and respected in the community and was a Parish Clerk and Keeper of the Poor. He married Ruth Barwise in 1793, who came from a farming family in Dean, a neighbouring parish and his first cousin from his mother’s side of the family. Ruth’s father married Hannah Cook, who was Mary Cook’s sister. Henry and Ruth had 9 children, lots to carry on the Walker name.

2. His only daughter married Richard Wood a farmer in 1783 at St.Bees, son of Thomas and Frances Wood. Richard Wood seemed to have been farming at that stage at Preston Hows at St.Bees, they had 13 children earlier ones registered at St.Bees later children registered at Low-Leys, Lamplugh. Richard died in 1804, he seemed to have had plenty to leave between his children, which he names in his will and names his brother-in-law Henry Walker of Rottington. To date we don’t know when Eleanor died or where she is buried, I would say at a guess with her husband Richard and children at Lamplugh.

Henry Walker of Rottington (1764 – 1829 ‘The Elder’)

Another Henry Walker as discussed above born 1764 at St.Bees and married Ruth Barwise, they had 9 children, Mary, Ezekial, Henry (below)  William, Eleanor, Hannah, Joseph, Ruth and John Walker. Henry died 1839 and Ruth his wife died 1847 and are both buried at St.Bees with his father and mother, Henry and Mary.

1. Ezekial (Ezechial in the parish registers) was born 1795 at St.Bees and is the author’s ancestor. Ezekial would have been the family’s black sheep no doubt when he threw his inheritance away to elope to Scotland and marry Anne Merry/Merrie in 1816, who by all family accounts was supposed to have been the maid at their home in Rottington and was much older than Ezekial.

2. Mary Walker was born 1796 at St.Bees, married Henry Fleming a farmer of Sandwith. Mary already had a daughter to Henry when she married him in 1835. We don’t know why the couple never married until 1835 as their daughter Elizabeth was born in 1820, maybe circumstances beyond their control kept them from marrying. Elizabeth never married and had a daughter, Eleanor, herself in 1843. They both remained unmarried and where noted on the 1991 census as living alone and both spinsters in Sandwith.

Henry and Mary had a second child Henry born in 1836, a few months after they were married. Henry married Elizabeth Peel in 1869, Henry was noted as a widow at the time. They had 6 children, William 1870, Fred 1872, Julian 1874, Adrian 1876, Harold 1878, and Mary Ellen.

William Zetland DeGrey Fleming 1870, married Maggie Banks in Workington and his occupation was given as steel worker at that time. Maggie’s father was William Banks a stonemason and her mother Agnes Banks. William Z D Fleming emigrated to the USA and arrived on the 8th November, 1909. His wife Maggie and their children Freda then 11 and Winifred aged 9 arrived later on the 3rd May, 1910. Their other daughter Agnes was born in Indianapolis, USA. William and Maggie are buried in Memorial Park Cemetary in Indianapolis, USA. William died 13.2.1950 and Maggie in November 1928.

3. Henry Walker was second eldest son of Henry Walker born 1797 at St.Bees. He seemed to be well educated and attended St.Bees Grammar School no doubt not groomed to take over the family farm at Rottington and probably not as proficient in the farming trade as his elder brother Ezekial. His father must have had some doubts about his farming capabilities as he later added a codicil to his will saying…

‘If Henry neglects or refuses to conduct and manage his farm at Rottington in the husbandry like manner in which it has usually been managed, then all the farming stock and husbandry utensils are to be shared equally between the other children with exception of Joseph’

(This is where the Walker family branch is split and Ezekial went to Maryport to live and carry on as a Farmer/Master Mariner, the author’s line. Henry stayed at Rottington and carried on the family tradition of farming, there was another two generations of Henry Walker and the last generation, the two youngest sons went to Australia before 1920. Many descendants from this line in Australia).


4. John Walker was Henry’s third eldest son born 1801 at St.Bees. He married Mary Mitchell in Kinnoul, Perth, Scotland on the 4th of May, 1834. Mary is noted on the 1851 census as being born in Manchester. John's father Henry Walker had quite a number of holdings in Scotland at the time and we can only presume this is why John married Mary in Scotland and his only son was born there. John was noted as a provisions dealer and lived in James Street, Whitehaven, Cumberland. They had two children Henry and Margaret, Henry being born in Kinnoul, Perth, Scotland in 1835 and Margaret born in Rottington, near St.Bees, Cumberland in 1836. John died in 1868, Mary died in 1864 and are both buried in St.Bees near John’s parents together with their son Henry who died in 1852 at the age of 16.

After her mother, Mary and her father John died Margaret must have moved to Distington as she is on the 1881 census as an annuant and boarding with James Coupland and his family in Distington. We now know Margaret did in fact marry later on in life at the age of 49 when she married John Jeffrey then aged 69, a widower, on the 18th of October 1885 at Nichol Forest in Cumberland.

5. William was Henry’s third eldest son born 1803 at St.Bees. He was a mariner and shopkeeper at Whitehaven and resided in Marlboro Street. He married Mary Newby in 1835 at Whitehaven and was noted to come from Rottington and was a mariner. They had 5 children all registered at Whitehaven, Henry born 1836, Anne Benson 1843, Richard 1848, Isaac Park 1849 and William 1851. The 1881 census finds Henry and Anne Benson residing in St.Martin’s Fields in Cheshire and Henry an Innkeeper and Anne Benson, sister as Housekeeper. Richard was on the 1881 census as a grocer’s assistant married and was a boarder with George Coates and his family at Cleator. The others we don’t know what happened to them.

6. Hannah Walker was born in 1805 at St.Bees. She was named in her father’s will and in her sister Eleanor's will in 1869.   She was on the 1891 census as residing in Main Street, St.Bees as an annuant and died after 1891, another spinster, as she never married to our knowledge.

7. Eleanor Walker born 1807 at St.Bees. She was on the 1851 census as residing with her sister Ruth at the Copras Works, Ginns, which is on the outskirts of Whitehaven and she is also named in her father’s will, as being able to have all the plate and linen after her mother Ruth died. Never married to out knowledge and remained a spinster until she died in 1869.

She left a will when she died in 1869 she left to her nephew Ezekiel Walker and her neice Ruth Walker the son and daughter of her brother Ezekiel Walker of Maryport the sum of one hundred pounds.  To her neice Ruth Jones formerly Greenlaw the sum of one hundred pounds.  All her estate and personal effects to her sister Hannah Walker and appoints Hannah Walker as her executor.  The rest is basically unreadable but can make out that Hannah Walker was there to prove the will in 1869.

8. Joseph Walker was born in 1809 at St.Bees. He was mentioned in his father Henry’s will as inheriting ‘all the messuage, tenement and estate known as Briscoe’s and Crostwaite’s tenements’ as named in the Manor Court Records as being owned by his father Henry. Joseph was a plumber and glazier by trade and married Mary Monteith in 1844 Whitehaven. Mary was the daughter of James and Ester Monteith. They had two children Joseph born 1844 and Mary Eleanor born 1849. Joseph b 1844 married Myra Shaw in 1872 having another son Joseph Walker in 1873 he married Annie Elizabeth Coward daughter of Mathew Coward from the Kirby Ireleth area in 1873 having two children Annie (1896) and Joseph Walker (1899).

9. Ruth Walker was born in 1813 at St.Bees. She was given an annuity of forty pounds for life in her father Henry’s will and like Eleanor, her sister she was living at Whitehaven at the Copras Works. Ruth Walker married Gilbert Mackintosh Greenlaw, son of William Greenlaw and Catherine Graham born in Scotland in 1815.

The couple had 3 children Mary Greenlaw 1840, Adam Mackintosh Greenlaw born 1841 married Dorothy and noted at a Grocer in Main Street, St.Bees as well as Wetheral and Ruth Graham Greenlaw 1845. Ruth Graham Greenlaw married Robert Jones in 1868, they had 3 children Mary Anne Jones 1869, Robert Mackintosh Jones 1870 and Catherine Greenlaw Jones 1872. Mary Anne Jones married Ezekiel Walker in 1895, he being the son of Ezekial Walker and Agnes Ranken and therefore the family had come full circle back to Agnes Ruth Graham Walker who was the author's Grandparent and also descended from Ruth Walker's brother Ezekial born 1795.

Henry Walker of Rottington ( 1797 – 1875)

Henry married Mary Anne Leech a seamstress from Sandwith in 1853. Henry would have been aged 56 then and his wife only 29. Mary was the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Leech (nee Yeowart) a stonemason at the nearby Sandwith quarries. They only had one child another Henry born 1854. Henry died in 1875 and in his will he gave to his wife Mary Anne the dwelling house, with the orchard adjoining. The use and enjoyment of the furniture, plate, linen and china and other articles of the household for life. He also gave Mary Anne one annuity or yearly rent charge of thirty pounds for life as long as she remains his widow. He appoints his wife Mary Anne and William Paitson at guardian of his son and his son’s estate until he is twenty-one. Henry died in 1875 and Mary Anne in 1896, they are both buried at St.Bees.

Henry Walker of Orchard House, Rottington. (1854 - 1933)

 Henry Walker was born 1854 at St.Bees. He is pictured here outside Orchard House, date not  know. He married Dora Armitage Smith (pictured below) at Milburn in 1883 at Westmoreland. Dora’s father was a minister and spent some time at St.Bees in the years prior to Milburn so this is possibly how Dora and he met. Dora was only 19 when she married Henry and Henry being 29. Dora came from a family of 7 children, Thomas Hamilton Smith, Mary Smith, Anne Elizabeth Smith, Hilda Smith, Daniel Smith, Alice Smith and herself. Their father the Rev. Daniel Smith was a church minister born in Colne, Lancashire, son of Thomas Smith and Mary Knight. The Smith family travelled around a fair bit as Daniel, Dora and Hilda where born in Clifton, Yorkshire and Alice Smith the youngest was born at Egremont. Their mother, Anne Smith (Nee Hamilton) was born in Whitehaven on the coast of Cumberland and not far from St.Bees and Rottington. Dora Armitage Walker died at a relatively young age only 40 years old on 17th December, 1904 of Peritonitis Pneumonia.

We know that Dora Armitage Walker, Henry Walker's first wife died of complications from Pneumonia on the 17 December 1904.  We also know that Henry remarried to Elizabeth Watson a  schoolteacher on the 1906 in Scotland.  Elizabeth was know as Betty Watson Walker or ‘Bee’. The ill wind of change was about to blow through Rottington.

'On the 12 February 1906, at 74 Cormiston Drive, Morningside, City of Edinburgh after publication of Banns according to the Forms of the United Free Church of Scotland'. 

'HENRY WALKER aged 51 years, widower and Landed proprietor at Rottington, St.Bees, Cumberland son of Henry Walker, Landed proprietor (dec) and Mary Anne Walker formerly Leach (sic) deceased married ELIZABETH WATSON MOFFAT aged 38 years, spinster and school teacher of 74 Cormiston Crive, Edinburgh daughter of John Moffat, hatter (dec) and Catherine Moffat formerly Brown (dec)'.

(Pictured below Betty Watson Walker with the pupils at St.Bees School)

Henry Walker did leave a handwriten will, leaving the freehold farm at Rottington to his second surviving son Alfred Walker of Queensland, Australia also the cottage house at Kinnesswood and furniture therein to Alfred after his death, also three hundred pounds in the British Linen Bank of Scotland at Kinross and also the bank of Whitehaven and also his personal belongings but the will was proved invalid as it was signed by Henry Walker and in his own handwriting.  William Hutchings of the Union Hall at Whitehaven, Cumberland, Clerk to the Southern Guardians there of the Cumberland County Police Assistant Committee stated that it was the handwriting of Henry Walker but never being witnessed properly it was therefore never legal this caused much contraversy and in the next few years and a long battle between Alfred Walker's family and the solicitors of Henry Walker's estate ensued. 

On the 23rd day of February 1924 in Scotland Henry Walker revoked any former wills he has made and appointed his wife Elizabeth Watson Walker of Rottington to be his executor and directed that all debts and funeral expenses be paid as soon as possible after his decease.  He gave and bequeathed to Elizabeth Watson Walker the whole of his estate and effects real and personal of which he may be possessed and to which he may be entitled at his death absolutely.   By adding a codicil to his original will revoking all other wills and leaving everything to his wife Elizabeth accounted for Alfred Walker receiving nothing. 

Henry died at Woodmarch in Scotland on 6 January 1933 and died in a Diabetic Coma. Betty Watson Walker was found dead in her house on 4 March 1951 at Woodmarch, Scotland, she died of natural causes, cerebral haemorrhage. In a twist to the ending of this story before Betty Watson Walker died in 1944 she made a will leaving Orchard House Farm situated at Rottington to her stepson Daniel Smith Walker but Daniel never got the chance as Betty sold the farm out of the Walker family to George Stevenson in 1950, only a year before she died.

In a letter dated 13th January, 1953 and addressed to Alfred Walker's daughter Mary Oats (nee Walker) in Augathella, Queensland the news was conveyed 'that the English solicitors of the late Mr. Henry Walker, advises that in the will by which he purported to convey his English farm to Alfred Walker died not comply with English formalities and was not valid to pass real estate in England.   They also stated it could not impose a trust on the absolute gift contained in the first will and so Mrs. Walker was absolutely entitled to the farm at Rottington'.

The Children of Henry and Dora Walker of Orchard House, Rottington. 

1. Henry Walker born 1885 or known as ‘Harry’. He went to Canada in the early years of the 1900’s. We know this by family letters from Henry in Canada to his younger brother Alfred Walker. We think Henry went out to Canada on the SS.Dominion. about 1905 but we are not sure. His first letter home after 1905 telling of his trip to Kamloops was written on stationery depicting a photograph of the SS Dominion. Henry lived in Kamloops, British Columbia and the surrounding areas. His letters from Black Pine Ranch in Kamloops are marvellous as they depict the lifestyle in the early settling days in Canada. Henry died 5 February 1935 in British Columbia, Canada, at the age of 49.

2. Daniel Smith Walker born 1886, know as ‘Dan’ married Eleanor Edgar (Nellie) in 1922 at St.Bees (The couple pictured below right). His occupation at that time was given as a hotelkeeper and by all accounts he was in partnership with his father in law John Robert Edgar who lived at St.Bees and at one stage was a  shopkeeper in Main Street, but was noted as hotelkeeper when Dan married Nellie. Dan was a well-known person in the village of St. Bees, he was a member of he Coast Guard and a lighthouse keeper at one stage and he lived at Tomlin View, St.Bees. In his early days he visited Canada and was mentioned several times in Henry’s letters to his younger brother and family accounts put him visiting Alfred and Rupert in Australia. Dan and Nellie never had any children of their own but had their Brough nieces and spent a great deal of time with them throughout the years and the girls became to look on them as ‘second parents’.  Daniel died in 1954.


 3. Alfred Walker born 1890. Alfred we  know very little about his life in Rottington, he is mentioned in his brother’s letters from Canada and we do know he went to Australia before 1918 as his son John Henry Walker was born in 1918, he died early after choking on a nappy pin and his daughter Mary Patricia Walker was born in Queensland in 1920. He married Bridget Gallagher in Brisbane, Queensland in 1914.

 4. Rupert Walker born 24 August 1891.  Nothing is really known about Rupert Walker in  the  early days of Rottington.  Rupert is pictured at right in his uniform. He was also, like Alfred, mentioned in Henry’s letters from Canada.  Rupert Walker came out to Australia with this brother Alfred before 1914 as he signed up to serve in the Australian Military Forces in 1914.

Rupert at some stage returned to England and married Christina Alice Collings in 1917 at Holy Trinity Church, South End on Sea, Essex, England.  The family resided first at Applethorpe near Stanthorpe (Qld) on soldier settlement land then had to move to Brisbane because of health reasons with his wife Christina. They had 4 children Cecil Rupert Walker 1919, twins Ada and Cyril 1924 only lived for 5 hours and Audrey Winifred Walker 1927.  (Left Rupert and Christina with daughter Audrey)  

(George William Walker)    

 5. George William Walker was born 1898.  George William was the youngest of the Walker children and by all accounts put his age up to go to the war.  He is pictured here in his scout uniform.  GeorgeWalker gravestone was killed in action in WW1 in France 15th June 1916 and once owned copies of the Boys Own Annual dated from October 1909, when George would have been eleven, and the inscription inside records that they were given to a local identity by Mrs. B.W. Walker, who was George's step-mother.  On the flyleaf B W Walker wrote - "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."