Walker #11226

John Walker (1604-1647)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts by 1633 and subsequently settled in Rhode Island in 1638 and

Katherine ( – )

Born in England. Arrived in Massachusetts by 1633 and subsequently settled in Rhode Island in 1638.

Walker #11126

Not much is known of John Walker.  He resided first at Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1633 and removed to Boston by 1637.  John Walker was in the list of men to be disarmed 20 Nov 1637 as adherents of Anne Hutchinson[1].  That this is the same as the Roxbury man is suggested by his placement near the end of the list, not far from John Compton and William Freeborn, who had arrived at Roxbury in 1634.  None of these three men appears in Boston records, giving rise to speculation that they had been recently drawn to Boston by the teachings of Anne Hutchinson, but had not had time to join the church, acquire land or otherwise take part in town activities.  Many of these men and their families, of course, including also William Freeborn, went on to found Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in the following year.

The Portsmouth Compact

John Walker arrived in Rhode Island in 1638 and was one of the signers[2] of the Portsmouth Compact on 7 Mar 1638 that established the settlement of Portsmouth, which is now a town in the state of Rhode Island.  It was the first document in history that severed both political and religious ties with mother England.  The document was written and signed in Boston by a group of men who followed Anne Hutchinson, a banished Christian dissident from Massachusetts, to seek religious freedom in Rhode Island.  The signers were ready to move to Aquidneck Island to set up a new colony and had been disarmed by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  The purpose of the Portsmouth Compact was to set up a new, independent colony that was Christian in character but non-sectarian in governance. It has been called “the first instrument for governing as a true democracy.”  The text of the Compact reads as follows:

The 7th Day of the First Month, 1638.

We whose names are underwritten do hereby solemnly in the presence of Jehovah incorporate ourselves into a Bodie Politick and as He shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and to all those perfect and most absolute laws of His given in His Holy Word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby. 

(In the margin are the following Bible citations: Exodus 24:3-4; Second Chronicles 11:3 and Second Kings 11:17).

John Walker does not appear to have been an educated man, as he signed his will by mark.  John Walker and William Freeborne followed the same migration sequence in New England, from Roxbury to Boston to Portsmouth. William Freeborne witnessed the will of both John Walker and Katherine, was a minor legatee in the will of the latter and witnessed the deed between the sons-in-law of John and Katherine.  As passengers in 1634 on the Francis of Ipswich, the Freebornes were probably from Essex or Suffolk.  If the association noted here derives from a prior relationship in England, then the origin of the Walkers should be sought in the same two counties.

In his will, dated 18 Mar 1647[/8] but not recorded until 16 Dec 1671, John Walker of Portsmouth named:

my wife Kathrine Walker as sole executor and bequeathed to my daughter Mary Walker twenty acres of land at the upper end of my lot; to my daughter Sands twenty acres of land beginning next to Mr. Browning’s at the seaside and from thence up to the mill path, and there to butt against my daughter Mary’s twenty acres and if she die childless then … this twenty acres shall fall unto her husband James Sands & his heirs forever; the work my son-in-law James Sands is now doing he shall have the benefit of it as we have formerly agreed; my house with the land that is left shall be my wife’s for her lifetime and after her decease to fall to my two daughters to be equally divided between them; my daughter Mary’s land shall fall unto her at her marriage or at twenty years of age if she marry not before.

In her undated will (drawn before 2 Apr 1654), recorded 16 Dec 1671, Kathrin Walker of Portsmouth bequeathed moveables to my daughter Sarah Sands, to James Sands, and to my daughter Mary; to Goodman Freeborne a green jacket; to Allce [Alice] one jacket; William Freeborne and Adam Mott Sr. to be overseers; my two daughters Sarah and Mary to be my executors.

On 2 Apr 1654 William Earle[3] of Portsmouth, planter, sold to James Sands of Portsmouth fourteen acres which was possessed by the late deceased the widow Walker; on the same day Mary Earle[4] noted that the land and houses or my husband’s right & title into them came to him by right of my marriage with me Mary Earle and daughter to the late deceased widow Walker, and gave her consent to the sale.

On 3 Dec 1656 the proprietors of Portsmouth ordered that William Earl and James Sands shall have 50 acres of land it being an old grant to John Walker deceased.

The known children of John Walker and his wife Katherine [surname unknown] are:

  1. Sarah, born about 1628; married James Sands by 1648.
  2. Mary Walker, born about 1635 and died about 1676.  She married William Earle by 1654.

The lineage of William Earle and Mary Walker is continued under the heading of Ralph Earle (1606-1678).

[1] My 10th g-grandmother.

[2] Direct ancestors of mine who were signers of the Portmouth Compact are: William Dyer (husband of Mary Dyer), William Freeborn, William Hutchinson (husband of Anne Hutchinson), Edward Hutchinson, Jr. (eldest son of William and Anne Hutchinson, called “Jr.” to distinguish him from his uncle Edward Hutchinson Sr.), and John Walker, all of whom are discussed under their own headings.  John Clarke and his brother Thomas (my 8th g-grand uncles – brothers of Joseph Clarke), John Coggeshall (father of my 7th g-grand uncle Samuel Rathbun, brother of Thomas Rathbun), Edward Hutchinson Sr. (my 10th g-grand uncle), and Thomas Savage (husband of my 9th g-grand aunt Faith Hutchinson, brother of Edward Hutchinson Jr.) were also signers.

[3] John’s son-in-law; my 10th g-grandfather.

[4] Mary Walker


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