Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J.T. Neale
JAMES WALKER, son of the late Rev. J. Walker, Primitive Methodist minister, was taken out to travel by the Boston Circuit, January 18th, 1862, and died at Yarmouth, August 11th, 1862, aged twenty-one years. The following particulars have been received from Brother C. Gardiner: — I first became acquainted with Mr. W. when I was stationed at Yarmouth in 1858, my home being at his mother’s. I had a good opportunity to ascertain his character and disposition. James lost his father when only six years of age. He was the eldest of four left to the care of his widowed mother. A sympathising friend at Manchester, Mr. Willett, adopted James as his son, gave him a liberal education, and would have placed him in a position to do well in life. But he became refractory and was sent home. He was then put apprentice to a slater in Yarmouth. About a year afterwards he formed an acquaintance with some young men who led him further into sin and folly. Unsteadiness, late hours, intemperance and corrupt language now were his traits. He became worse and worse, frequenting public houses, dancing, and ball rooms, &c., breaking through all restraint and casting aside religious impressions, the instruction and counsel of his pious mother, and of the ministers who took an interest in his welfare. These things greatly pained the mind of his kind and devoted mother, and drew forth many ejaculations that God would turn the bias of his mind; and we constantly remembered him at the throne of grace. But still he appeared to harden himself in sin, and to give place to sceptical principles.
For four months before his conversion he refused to kneel at the family altar, and annoyed us as much as possible when engaged there. This was very distressing to his family and myself. But bless God, at length a change took place! And what a glorious change! The lion was turned into a lamb. This occurred January 2nd, 1859, at twelve o’clock at night, in our bedroom. When I was talking to him on the importance of attending to the salvation of his soul, he fell suddenly on his knees, and cried for mercy; he prayed mightily, and in about twenty minutes obtained pardon. A more blessed season, I never experienced. We were singing and praying all night, and the next morning he took out of his pocket some cards and put them into the fire, saying, “There is an end of them; they had nearly been my ruin.” The same week he joined Mrs. Smith’s class, and signed the temperance pledge.
In June his name appeared on the Yarmouth plan among the exhorters; he was very earnest, and promised to be extensively useful. Favorable testimonials having been received from the Yarmouth officials, he was pledged by the Boston Circuit in March 1862. He attended the District Meeting at Melton Mowbray, and during his examination he was suddenly taken ill of gastric fever. Ten weeks elapsed before he could be removed home. The friends at Melton were exceedingly kind to him (although he was an entire stranger) and bore a large share of the heavy expenses incurred by his affliction. Boston and the other stations in the district have subscribed the rest. His family informs me that after his removal home his sufferings were of the severest nature, yet scarcely a murmur escaped his lips. Often when his physical strength was exhausted, he would say, “Now I am happy, those hours you think my worst, are my best: my soul is then in close communion with the Lord.” Often bathed in tears he complained of his own unworthiness, and in his letters to me he expressed his implicit confidence in the atonement.
On the morning of his death he took breakfast as usual. He was seized in half an hour after with a violent fit of coughing and vomiting blood, which continued thirty minutes. His mother perceiving he was near death said, “James, is all right between you and God? give me some token.” As he could not speak he immediately lifted up his arm to indicate all was well. The arm dropped. The mortal affliction was past.
James was born in the spring of 1841 at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, to parents James Walker, a PM minister, and Mary Ann Wright.
James died 11 August 1862 at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
- 1862 Horncastle
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1863/131
PM Minutes 1863/11
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers