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Walker, Thomas (1784-1836) (DNB00)


WALKER, THOMAS (1784–1836), police magistrate and author, son of Thomas Walker (1749–1817), was born at Barlow Hall, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester, on 10 Oct. 1784. His father was a Manchester cotton merchant and the head of the whig or reform party in the town. In 1784 he led the successful opposition to Pitt's fustian tax, and in 1790, when he was borough-reeve, founded the Manchester Constitutional Society. His warehouse was attacked in 1792 by a ‘church and king’ mob, and in that year he was prosecuted for treasonable conspiracy; but the evidence was so plainly perjured that the charge was abandoned. At the trial he was defended by Erskine, and among his friends and correspondents were Charles James Fox, Lord Derby, Thomas Paine, and many others. His portrait, after a picture by Romney, was engraved by Sharpe in 1795.

The younger Thomas Walker went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in 1808 and M.A. in 1811. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple on 8 May 1812, and, after the death of his father, lived for some years at Longford Hall, Stretford, engaging in township affairs, and dealing successfully with the problem of pauperism, which subject became his special study. In 1826 he published ‘Observations on the Nature, Extent, and Effects of Pauperism, and on the Means of reducing it’ (2nd edit. 1831), and in 1834 ‘Suggestions for a Constitutional and Efficient Reform in Parochial Government.’ In 1829 he was appointed a police magistrate at the Lambeth Street court. On 20 May 1835 he began the publication of ‘The Original,’ and continued it weekly until the following 2 Dec. It is a collection of his thoughts on many subjects, intended to raise ‘the national tone in whatever concerns us socially or individually;’ but his admirable papers on health and gastronomy form the chief attraction of the work. Many editions of ‘The Original’ were published: one, with memoirs of the two Walkers by William Blanchard Jerrold [q. v.], came out in 1874; another, edited by William Augustus Guy [q. v.], in 1875; one with an introduction by Henry Morley in 1887, and in the same year another ‘arranged on a new plan.’ A selection, entitled ‘The Art of Dining and of attaining High Health,’ was printed at Philadelphia in 1837; and another selection, by Felix Summerley (i.e. Sir Henry Cole), was published in 1881 under the title of ‘Aristology, or the Art of Dining.’

Walker died unmarried at Brussels on 20 Jan. 1836, and was buried in the cemetery there. A tablet to his memory was placed in St. Mary's, Whitechapel.

[Gent. Mag. 1836, i. 324; Jerrold's Memoir, noticed above; Espinasse's Lancashire Worthies; Hayward's Biogr. and Critical Essays, 1858, ii. 396.]

C. W. S.