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Frequently Answered Questions about Wigton Walkers

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What This Page is AboutEdit

There are certain questions that come up repeatedly concerning the Wigton Walker line. It seemed useful to have a specific location to house answers to these questions. An explanation about what the Wigton Walker portion of the Genealogy Wiki is about, also seemed useful, and has been placed here as well.



What This Site is AboutEdit

What we are trying to do with this site is to provide a place where information can be shared between people interested in one or more of the Wigton Walker lineages. More over, that sharing of information is done in an interactive and collaborative framework. That allows a free exchange of information, and allows many different people to contribute to a growing body of knowledge about our ancestors. As one of us has said, we are trying hard not to reinvent the wheel. The emphasis here is on cooperation and collaboration, and making a lasting contribution to our knowledge of this family. No one has to do everything, and everyone who wants, can do something.



Why is it "Wigton Walkers" not "Wigtown Walkers"Edit

Until the middle of the 19th century there were two nearby but separate towns that went by name of Wigton. One was in England in the border area. The other was in Scotland, in what is now called Dumfries-Galloway. The story is told that having two towns in the same general area wrecked havoc with the British postal system, with mail intended for Wigton Scotland, going instead to Wigton England, and vice versa. To end the problem the British renamed the town in Scotland "Wigtown".

We don't know how much of this White was aware. She did, however, clearly identify the town our ancesstors came from as being "Wigton, Scotland". Our ancestors would certainly have known it as "Wigton", and it seems likely that any documentaiton they may have left, and read by White, would have referred to it as "Wigton". We continue to honor that spelling, referring to ourselves, and our ancestors, as "Wigton Walkers".

  • [Could use a map of Scotland and England showing the two locations. An antique style English map, if one can be found in the public domain, would be a good addition. Some images of Wigton would also be good to insert here.]



Do We Have a Coat of ArmsEdit

In a word, no. There is a good discussion of the COA on Wikipedia, to which the interested reader is invited to turn. Here's a brief excerpt from that article:

  • In some heraldic traditions (such as the Scottish and the English), an individual (rather than a family) possesses a coat of arms. In those traditions, coats of arms were passed from father to son as legal property, and were not used by more than a single individual at the same time (other than the eldest son and his eldest son both of whom would differentiate with a label). Other children in these families would only use a form of their father's arms that were differenced with a change to a colour or addition of a distinguishing charge once they obtained specific approval. In Scotland the Lord Lyon has criminal jurisdiction to enforce the laws of arms. In England use of arms is a matter of civil law. Many other traditions are less restrictive — allowing, for example, all members of a family or dynastic house to use the same arms or may reserve one or more elements to the Head of the House.

The following is one persons interpretation of its significance in American Genealogy. This is placed here more or less as a place holder, until someone knowledgable about the subject chooses to fill in a detailed explanation, and or correct misunderstandings in the following treatment.

First of all, COA's are one of the fun things in genealogy. They are bright, colorful, and make nice decorations. Best of all, in America their are no restrictions on their use (more or less, some COA's are registered trademarks; infringement on a registered trademark is not a good thing.) As a result there are many firms that will be happy to sell you items emblazoned with "your" COA. You will probably find a nice selection of different COA's associated with your surname, and you can probably pick from any of them. However, if you are an American, you probably don't have a COA in the same sense that some in the British Isles, or other world cultures, have a COA. Bottom line, in most cases, COA's are not inherited. Just because you possess the same surname as someone who has the hereditary right to the use of a COA, doesn't mean that you have the "right" to display that COA as your own. That doesn't mean that in American you can't make use of COA, and consider it "your COA". It just means that your use of it probably has no genealogical connotation.



What's the Walker TartanEdit

Tartans are a well recognized component of Scottish culture. If you are of Scottish descent you probably want to know "What's my tartan". The answer to this question is more complex than you would think, and getting the 'right' tartan is not necessarily obvious---which is why an example is not shown here. A good discussion on tartan's is available at Tartan. Another source would be Tartans of Scotland.
If the question is important to you, then you are probably need to look at the issues in detail, and decide what the "right answer" is for you.

The short, honest answer is we probably don't have one. The longer, but perhaps deceptive answer is that there are numerous tartans registered to persons with the last name of "Walker"; you could use one of those, though there would not necessarily be a meaningful genealogical connection. You could also opt for using the tartan of another clan that considers the Walkers to be a sept. Alternatively, you could opt for using the tartan of the Black Douglas' who had their base of operations at Threave Castle in Wigtonshire. (The Walkers are not, apparently, one of their recognized septs, but other clans may include Walkers among their septs. Whether that has anything to do with the 'Wigton Walkers' would be something you'd have to decide for yourself.) The safest bet might be to use the "Black Watch" tartan, since that is supposed to be available to anyone. As a word of caution, those who take their Scottish ancestry seriously have been known to be rude those who show up at clan functions in full clan regalia, and can not justify their use of the particular tartan they have chosen.


The ShipEdit

John Walker, the Emigrant

  • and family, and three of his brother Alexander's children left Strangford Bay in May 1726...on board a vessel commanded by Richard Walker, and landed in Maryland August 2. White 1902:2

The name of the ship on which our family came to America is a perennial question....unfortunately, one with no known answer. It is sometimes said that the name of the ship was "The George and Ann", but no primary source has been found to support this claim. There was in fact a ship by that name that made a voyage to America about the time our ancestors arrived in Maryland. The voyage of the George and Ann is notorious for the loss of life that occurred during the passage. A journal was kept by one of the passengers, and provides a list of passengers. That list does not make mention of the Walker family, or anyone else that can be linked to any of the parties mentioned by White. The journal also provides a detailed accounting of locations where the ship anchored, waiting to pick up additional passengers. None of the anchorage points were off Strangford Bay.

Whatever the name of the ship, White is clear that it was commanded by "Richard Walker". White makes this statement without further comment, and we have no indication that Richard Walker was related to our family. It seems likely that the information was preserved in the family simply because he shared the same surname. On occasion you will hear it suggested that this Richard Walker is one of a series of "Captain Richard Walker's" in New England; this is not likely, however, since their rank of captain appears to have been related to the local militia, rather than indicating that they were sea captains.

However, the identification of Richard Walker as the "commander" of the ship may offer a significant clue that may eventually allow us to identify the ship itself. The designation "commanded by Richard Walker" may not be a reference to the name of the ship captain, but to the ship owner/operator, who directed the ships captain. This was a common usage in the 17th and early 18th century, where a ships captain had responsibility for the ship at sea, but the commander had responsibility for the business dealings of the ship---such as where the ship went, and what cargo it would carry. If that is the case here, than Richard Walker may have been a merchant commander and may not even have been aboard the ship. In this regard, it is worth pointing out that there was a mercantile company in Maryland trading under the name "Walker and Company. The owners of that company at different times in the late 17th century included persons by the name of "Richard Walker". It might be reasonable to suspect that they continued to operate the company into the 18th century, and could have been logically designated the ships "commander".


Where is the Cemetery of the Nottingham Meeting HouseEdit

John Walker II, sometimes known as the Emigrant

  • "...landed in Maryland August 2. He transported his family and settled in Chester Co., PA, where he died in September 1734. His wife died in 1738. Both are buried at Nottingham Meeting House in Chester Co, Pa." White 1902:3

During the early 18th century a number of ferry landings were established on the lower Susquehanna River. One was located near mouth of the Octoraro River, and the modern village of Octoraro. A Presbyterian Meeting House, known by the name "Mouth of the Octoraro" was established here at an early date, presumably near the village of Octoraro. This MH was later moved north to the village of "Summer Hill", now known as "Rising Sun", where it became known simply as the "Nottingham Meeting House". Taking White 1902 at face value, it seems likely that the Walkers probably came ashore at the ferry landing near the village of "Octoraro", where they could make use of the old "Mouth of the Octoraro Meetinghouse" to spend their first nights in the New World. From here "John Walker...transported his family" onto the plateau that lies above the Susquehannah. Somewhere in the immediate vicinity of Rising Sun, they established their homes, probably within the "Nottingham Lots".

The location of that Meeting House has been problematic for Wigton Walker researchers. White 1902 indicates that the Walkers settled in Chester Co, PA. As a result, researchers have assumed that the Meeting House was located somewhere along "Meetinghouse Road" in lower Chester County, particularly focusing on the area near "Nottingham Cemetery" close to the Maryland border. That cemetery does not appear, however, to have ever been associated with a Presbyterian Meetinghouse, and, indeed, seems to date to the late 18th century.

White includes in her work a photograph titled "Nottingham Meeting House". The meeting house shown in her photograph still survives, and is easiy recognizable as the "The Brick", near Calvert Maryland. White's inclusion of this photograph has caused some confusion, because not only is the Meeting House NOT in Chester County, its also a Quaker meeting house. If there is one thing we know about John and katherine, its that they were Prebyterians, not Quakers. "The Brick" is clearly not the meeting house in whose cemetery John II and Katherine are said to be buried, despite White's use of its photograph.

Part of the expanation of the confusion about the location of the Presbyterian Nottingham Meetingh House comes from the fact that at the time the Walkers settled here, the area was claimed by both Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The Walkers settled within the Nottingham Lots, whose settlers received their land from William Penn in 1702. Even though they settled near Rising Sun, well within the modern Maryland Border, they probably thought of the area as being in Chester Co, PA, and that is what was presumably passed down in oral tradition, and was picked up by White.

Another factor in the confusion is that the Presbyterian Nottingham Meeting House at Rising Sun does not exist today, and in fact, probably did not exist when White was working on her family history. At about the time the Walkers were leaving for Borden's Grant, the Presbytrian congregation of the Nottingham Meeting House split was into "New Side" and "Old Side" factions, with a New Side Congregation erecting a separate meeting house a mile or so away from the orignal meeting house. Eventually the two factions would re-unite, but would do so as the "West Nottingham Meeting House, a few miles to the south, near Colora, MD. The old meetinghouses fell into disuse, with only the cemetery remaining into the 20th century. During the 1950's even this was lost, as the area was converted into a housing development. Some of the church gravestones were salvaged, and placed at the West Nottingham cemetery. No stone has survived, howver, for John Walker II or his wife Katherine.







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