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Saturday, August 30, 2014
The Walkers of Scotland
In September of 2014, I traveled to the Western
Highlands of Scotland to see some spectacular sights as I researched Scotland's
past for some historical romances I'll be writing.
My traveling companion, author Kaki Warner, and
I took several trains, including the Jacobite train that crosses the Glenfinnan
I thought it was fitting I should do a post on
the Walkers of Scotland. So here is The Walker “clan” for you to enjoy!
From what I can tell, there is more than one
belief on how the surname Walker came about. Some say it refers to the men who
walked about the castle to watch for intruders or thieves. Others say Walker
originates from Waulker, “son of the fuller or cloth maker,” and refers to
those who walked on the wool that was cleaned and thicken by being soaked in
water and trampled under foot. In any event, the name is widespread throughout
Scotland. (It is the 21st most common name in Scotland.)
The Highland or Gaelic version of the name
Walker is MacNucator and derives from "Mac an fhucadair" (son of the
fuller of the cloth), of which the old Scots equivalent is Waulker. In modern
times, the name is associatedwith both the Stewarts and the McGregors.
My mother once told me that we were “papists in
Scotland and Protestants in Ireland.” I decided that meant we were rebels all
around, though I think she was speaking of Clan Donald, my mother's kin. Still,
in the 17th century, the Walkers were fined for harboring fugitives of the
outlawed Clan Gregor!
Clansmen of the name followed the Stewarts of
Appin in support of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745. The Appin Stewarts,
known as “The Loyal Clan,” are a part of the West Highland branch of the royal
surname Stewart. They are associated with Castle Stalker in Argyll. Their motto
is Quihidder Wil Zie (Whither will ye? That is, what/which will
you..choose…war or peace?) I'm reading a Scottish historical romance now, Lady
of the Glen, that shows the Stewarts of Appin fighting alongside the
MacDonalds at Killiecrankie.
Castle Stalker, Argyll
Prior to the majority of the MacNucator
clan changing their name to Walker in the 18th century, the MacNucators appear
to have been located in and around Knapdale, where historians have associate
them with Clan Macmillan. They are also a sept of Stewart.
Loch Caille Bharr in Knapdale
who consider themselves to be members of the Clan Macmillan, use the emblems of
kinship of that clan. (OK, so it's not a red based tartan!)
Walkers of note:
As far as I could ascertain, the earliest known
Walkers to immigrate to America were John, Roger and Isabel Walker who
immigrated to Virginia in 1623.
Patrick Nowcatter was Procurator Fiscal for
Argyll in 1655, and Martine McNaucater held the same office in 1667.
In the 18th century, Helen Walker (d.1791)
walked from Scotland to London to petition for the life of her sister who had
been condemned to death for infanticide. Her story provided the inspiration for
Sir Walter Scott's epic tale of Jeanie Deans in The Heart of
Midlothian. A statue was erected in Kirkpatrick-Irongray, Kirkcudbrightshire
by Sir Walter Scott in memory of Helen Walker upon whom he based his character.
Robert Walker (1755-1808) was born in Monkton,
Ayrshire and became Minister of Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh.
James Walker (1770-1841) was born in Fraserburgh
and became Minister of St Peter's Episcopalian Chapel, Edinburgh, and in 1830,
the Bishop of Edinburgh.
Sir James Walker (1863-1935) became Professor of
Chemistry at Dundee University and worked on hydrolysis, ionization and
The Irish and English
Walker is also an English name near the Scottish
border. And Walkers throughout Ireland have been identified as non-linked
families to the ones in Scotland and England. A Walker family from Ireland is
probably from Sligo or Derry where they came from, two of the hardest hit areas
during the famine.
So, now you know! Tell your friends whose
surname is “Walker” they have an interesting heritage!