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Biographical entry Walker, John William (1859 - 1953)

OBE 1920; MRCS 16 May 1882; FRCS by election 8 May 1941; LRCP 1883; JP West Riding of Yorkshire; FSA.

15 October 1859
17 February 1953
Churchill, Somerset
General surgeon


Born on 15 October 1859 at Wakefield, the elder son of Thomas Walker MRCS and Elizabeth Jackson Secker his wife. The Walker family had practised surgery at Wakefield since the early eighteenth century; J W Walker represented the sixth generation since William Walker, surgeon of Wakefield, who died in 1740. His younger brother Henry Secker Walker FRCS 1888, who died in 1948, distinguished himself as an ophthalmic surgeon, and both his sons (see below) became Fellows of the College. He was educated at Rossall School and University College and Hospital, London, where he held house appointments after qualifying in 1882.

He practised throughout his career at Wakefield, becoming ultimately consulting surgeon to the Clayton Hospital, and was a prominent citizen. He was a magistrate for the West Riding of Yorkshire, a governor of Wakefield High School, and an honorary life-member of the St John Ambulance Association. During the war of 1914-18 he served as a Captain RAMC at the 2nd Northern General Hospital, Leeds, and was created OBE in 1920.

His chief personal interest was in antiquarian studies and he wrote several books in this field. He joined the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in 1882, served as records secretary, and was elected President; he also served the Wakefield Historical Society as President. After his retirement in 1921 he lived in Berkshire, studied the church plate of the county, and served on the council of the Berkshire Archaeological Society; he was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. After a period in Cheshire, he settled finally at Churchill Court, Churchill, Somerset, near Bristol where his second son was Professor of Surgery. He was elected a Fellow in 1941, as a Member of twenty years' standing.

Walker married in 1885 Constance daughter of Samuel Holdsworth JP; they celebrated their golden wedding in 1935. Mrs Walker died before him, but he was survived by their two daughters and two sons, John Henry Milnes Walker FRCS of Crewe and Robert Milnes Walker FRCS, Professor of Surgery in the University of Bristol. He died at Churchill on 17 February 1953 aged 93.

The cathedral church of Wakefield. 1888.
Handbook for Yorkshire. 1904.
The church plate of Berkshire. 1927.
Wakefield, its history and people. 2nd edition, 1939.
Robin Hood identified. Yorks Archaeol J. 1944, 36, 4-46.
Medicine in seventeenth-century Yorkshire. Yorks Archaeol J. 1946, 36, 288-296.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1953, 2, 734].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England