General Walker

Governor of the city during the Siege

Though not born in Derry, General Walker has become synonymous with the city because of his involvement with the Siege of Derry in 1689 and his subsequent writings on the subject.

Celebrated by some, reviled by others - a memorial pillar topped by a statue of Walker was erected in 1828 only to be blown up by the IRA in 1973 - Walker’s legacy is as colourful as his life was.

Walker was born c.1645. After attending Trinity College, Dublin he went on to become an Anglican priest and was appointed to the parishes of Lissan and Desertlyn in Co. Londonderry and Armagh Dioscese. In 1674 he became rector of Donoughmore, near Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. In 1688 he raised a regiment at Dungannon and in the following year he fought the Jacobite army around Strabane and Coleraine.

Throughout the Siege of Derry Walker acted as Governor of the city, replacing and assisting in the escape of the much maligned Lundy. In his account of the Siege he wrote ’The men complain of want of Powder but by the contrivance of their officer [ie himself] a Bag of Mustard Seed was laid upon the carriages, which by its resemblance easily obtained the credit of a Bag of Powder and immediately gave motion to the soldiers’.
After the Siege had ended Walker set sail for Glasgow with a loyal address from Derry to the King. For his trouble Walker was given a gift of £5000 and the promise of the Bishopric of Derry. The Irish Society put on a banquet in his honour, Oxford and Cambridge gave him honorary degrees and he was praised in the House of Commons.

In September of 1689 Walker published A True Account of the Siege of London-Derry. This caused so so much offence to the Presbyterians of Derry that he was forced to publish a vindication of this account. They believed that his version of events failed to take into consideration the role they had played in defending their town.

Walker was about to assume his duties as Bishop of Derry when William invaded Ireland. He was among the party who first received William when he landed at Carrickfergus on June 14. He accompanied William to the Boyne were he was killed. This Dutch etching shows his fall. He was supposedly buried at the spot where he had fallen until some thirteen years later when his widow had his body removed and buried at Donoughmore. A memorial pillar topped by a statue of the General was erected in Derry in 1828 but blown up by the IRA in 1973. His statue survived and can be seen beside the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in the city.