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Walker, John (1768-1833) (DNB00)


WALKER, JOHN (1768–1833), founder of the ‘Church of God,’ born in Roscommon in January 1768, was the son of Matthew Walker, a clergyman of the established church of Ireland. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 18 Jan. 1785, was chosen a scholar in 1788, graduated B.A. in 1790, was elected a fellow in 1791, and proceeded M.A. in 1796, and B.D. in 1800.

Walker was ordained a priest of the established church of Ireland. About 1803 he began to study the principles of Christian fellowship prevailing among the earliest Christians. Convinced that later departures were erroneous, he joined with a few others in an attempt to return to apostolic practices. Their doctrinal beliefs were those of the more extreme Calvinists, and they entirely rejected the idea of a clerical order. On 8 Oct. 1804 Walker, convinced that he could no longer exercise the functions of a clergyman of the Irish church, informed the provost of Trinity College, and offered to resign his fellowship. He was expelled on the day following. He was connected with a congregation of fellow-believers in Stafford Street, Dublin, and supported himself by lecturing on subjects of university study. After paying several visits to Scotland, he removed to London in 1819.

Walker was no mean scholar, and published several useful educational works. In 1833 the university of Dublin granted him a pension of 600l. as some amends for their former treatment of him. He returned to Dublin, and died on 25 Oct. of the same year. His followers styled themselves ‘the Church of God,’ but were more usually known as ‘Separatists,’ and occasionally as ‘Walkerites.’

Among Walker's publications were: 1. ‘Letters to Alexander Knox,’ Dublin, 1803, 8vo. 2. ‘An Expostulatory Address to Members of the Methodist Society in Ireland,’ 3rd ed. Dublin, 1804, 12mo. 3. ‘A Full and Plain Account of the Horatian Metres,’ Glasgow, 1822, 8vo. 4. ‘Essays and Correspondence,’ ed. W. Burton, London, 1838, 8vo. 5. ‘The Sabbath a Type of the Lord Jesus Christ,’ London, 1866, 8vo. He also edited: 1. Livy's ‘Historiarum Libri qui supersunt,’ Dublin, 1797–1813, 7 vols. 8vo; Dublin, 1862, 8vo. 2. ‘The First, Second, and Sixth Books of Euclid's Elements,’ Dublin, 1808, 8vo; first six books with a treatise on trigonometry, London, 1827, 8vo. 3. ‘Selections from Lucian,’ Glasgow, 1816, 8vo; 9th ed. Dublin, 1856, 12mo. For the opening of the Bethesda Chapel, Dorset Street, Dublin, on 22 June 1794, he wrote two hymns, one of which, ‘Thou God of Power and God of Love,’ has been included in several collections.

[Walker's Essays and Corresp. (with portrait), 1838; Madden's Memoir of Peter Roe, 1842; Wills's Irish Nation, iv. 452; Gent. Mag. 1833, ii. 540; Remains of Alexander Knox, 1835; Millennial Harbinger, September 1835; A Brief Account of the People called Separatists, Dublin, 1821; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, 1892.]

E. I. C.