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Commodore George Walker (before 1700 - 1777), by British school of the 18th century

Commodore George Walker (before 1700 - 1777), ca. 1750

George Walker (died 1777) was an English privateer active against French shipping.

Early lifeEdit

Walker, as a lad and a young man, served in the Dutch navy, and was employed in the Levant for the protection of trade against Turkish or Greek pirates. Later on he became the owner of a merchant ship and commanded her for some years.

In 1739, he was principal owner and commander of the ship Duke William, trading from London to South Carolina, and, the better to prepare for defence, took out letters of marque. His ship mounted 20 guns, but had only thirty-two men. The coast of the Carolinas was infested by Spanish privateers, and, in the absence of any English man-of-war, Walker put the Duke William at the service of the colonial government. His offer was accepted; he increased the number of his men to 130, and succeeded in driving the Spanish ships off the coast. Towards the end of 1742 he sailed for England with three merchantmen in convoy. But in a December gale, as they drew near the Channel, the ship's seams opened. Walker, with her crew, managed to get on board one of the merchantmen, which was only just kept afloat.

When finally Walker arrived in town, he learned that his agents had allowed the insurance to lapse, and that he was a ruined man. For the next year he was master of a vessel trading to the Baltic Sea.

PrivateerEdit

In 1744, when the War of the Austrian Succession broke out, he was offered the command of the Mars, a private ship of war of 26 guns, to cruise in company with another, the Boscawen, somewhat larger and belonging to the same owner. They sailed from Dartmouth in November, and on one of the first days of January 1744–5 fell in with two homeward-bound French ships of the line, which captured the Mars after the Boscawen had hurriedly deserted her. Walker was sent as a prisoner on board the Fleuron. On 6 January the two ships and their prize were sighted by an English squadron of four ships of the line, which separated and drew off without bringing them to action.[1] Walker with civility, and he was landed at Brest as a prisoner at large; within a month he was exchanged.

On returning to England Walker was put in command of the Boscawen, and sent out in company with the Mars, which had been recaptured and bought by her former owners. The two cruised with little success during the year, and, coming into the English Channel in December, the Boscawen, a weakly built ship, iron-fastened, almost fell to pieces; Walker managed run it ashore on the coast of Cornwall. He was almost immediately offered a larger command. This was a squadron of four ships — King George, Prince Frederick, Duke, and Princess Amelia—known collectively as the "Royal Family", which carried in the aggregate 121 guns and 970 men. In the summer of 1745, off Louisbourg, Nova Scotia,[2] it had made a very rich prize; the ships were consequently well manned.

After cruising for nearly a year, and having made prizes for over £200,000 the Royal Family put into Lisbon; and, sailing again in July 1747, had been watering in Lagos Bay, when on 6 October a large ship was sighted standing in towards Cape St. Vincent. This was the Spanish 70-gun ship Glorioso, recently come from the Spanish Main with treasure on board. The treasure, however, had been landed at Ferrol, and she was now on her way to Cadiz. Walker took for granted that she had treasure, and attacked her in the King George, a frigate-built ship of 32 guns. She was nearly beaten; but on the Prince Frederick's coming up, the Glorioso, catching the same breeze, fled to the westward, where she was met and engaged by HMS Dartmouth, a ship of 50 guns. The Dartmouth blew up during the exchange, with the loss of most of her crew; but some hours later the 80-gun ship HMS Russell brought the Glorioso to action and succeeded in taking her. The Russell was only half manned, and was largely dependent on the privateers to take the prize into the River Tagus.

The Royal Family continued cruising, with moderate success, to the end of the war. Altogether, the prizes taken by the Royal Family under Walker's command were valued at about £400,000.

Later lifeEdit

After the peace Walker commanded a ship in the North Sea trade, but either lost or squandered the money he had made in the Royal Family. He got involved, too, in a dispute with the owners about the accounts, and was imprisoned for debt shortly after the outbreak of the Seven Years' War.

After being relased from jail and attempting to rebuild an ailing Scotish fisheries ,Walker turned his attention towards the Americas and setup 5 trading posts in the Bay Chaleur in 1768.The main trading post was fortified at Alston Point The mouth of the Restigouche, Mouth of the Nepisiguit river, Miscou Island and the Acadien village later to be known as Caraquet. Walker also developed trade relations with the French Acadiens only 6-7 years after the last Acadien deportations.

The American Revolution in 1776 brought with it American Privateers. Walker sailed to London to lobby for Naval assistance for the Bay Chaleur region to defend against the American threat. He died on 20 September 1777 in England, as a result of his passing the naval support never came and all of the trading posts were burned and raided by American Privateers

ReferencesEdit

  1. Wikisource-logo.svg "Brett, John (d.1785)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.  See also: Thomas Griffin; Savage Mostyn.
  2. Wikisource-logo.svg "Warren, Peter". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
Attribution

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Walker, George (d.1777)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

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