I am attempting to sort out some of the Thomas Walkers and believe the Thomas Walker who was Chief Justice of the Bahamas and died in 1722 in the Bahamas is different from the Thomas Walkers in Virginia.The Bahamas Thomas Walker, who was the father of Sarah Walker who married William Fairfax, may be the son of Charles Walker and his wife Ann.Any comments or corrections to the following information will be greatly appreciated.(Special thanks to J. D. Brittingham who posted some of this information in 2002 at FAIRFAX-L Archives.)
In the 1671 census of the Bahamas there were only one family of Walkers listed, and that family included a Thomas Walker:
Walker: Chas., Ann, his wife; Chas., John, Thomas, sons; Alice, Elizabeth, daughters.
"The Early Settlers of the Bahamas and Colonists of North America," by A. Talbot Bethell, 3rd ed. rev., (Norfolk, England: Rounce & Wortley, 1937; reprint by Heritage Books, 1999) [hereinafter "Early Settlers of the Bahamas"], at p. 80.
In his will dated 21 August 1722 and proved 4 September 1722, Thomas Walker left his entire estate to his wife and sons Thomas, Charles and John.Susan Riley, "Homeward Bound : A History of the Bahama Islands to 1850" (Miami, Florida: Island Research 1983, 4th printing 2000) [hereinafter "Homeward Bound"] p. 240, fn.8.Thomas Walker was about 63 years old at his death, making his birth about 1659.With the 1671 Charles Walker having sons Charles, John and Thomas, and the 1722 Thomas Walker having sons Thomas, Charles and John indicates that 1722 Thomas was the son of 1671 Charles.
Thomas Walker apparently lived most or all of his life in the Bahamas.In 1684 two Spanish attacks in the Bahamas destroyed the little town of New Providence.Calendar of State Papers, Public Records Office, Great Britain, vol.11:No.1927.Most of those who survived these attacks relocated to Jamaica but others joined small settlements scattered on Harbour Island and in the Abacos, prime areas for access to ships passing the islands.Thomas Walker reportedly had to relocate to Abaco in the aftermath of Spanish attacks on New Providence.
In 1698 Read Elding, a mulatto, was commissioned lieutenant governor by the governor.Thomas Walker, Judge of the Vice Admiralty, often disputed with Elding and claimed that Elding "had refused to accept his commission and that he and the other proprietary representatives had been 'molested, disturbed, and in danger of our lives of Read Elding, the assumed Deputy Governor of the Bahamas.'""Homeward Bound" p. 51 (citing to Thomas Walker, 30 January 1700?, Calendar of State Papers, Public Records Office, Great Britain, and Nassau Public Archives, Nassau, The Bahamas).
On November 13, 1701 Thomas Walker, at new Providence, the Bahamas, sent a letter to Mr. James Petiver of London and spoke of receiving communication from South Carolina describing the country."Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783, in the British Museum, in Minor London Archives, and in the Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge" by Charles M. Andrews and Frances G. Davenport (Washington D.C.: Published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1908), p. 70, "Sloane Manuscripts"4065. f. 123 [hereinafter "Sloane Manuscripts"]The "Sloane Manuscripts" are a collection of letters to Sir Hans Sloane from various persons in the colony and one of the persons listed in the collection is Thomas Walker of the Bahamas."Sloane Manuscripts" at pp. 50-51.
A letter dated February 15, 1704 (author unknown, signature cut off) from Carolina discussed Capt. Thomas Walker and his desire for a salary as judge of the Admiralty in the Bahamas."Sloane Manuscripts" at p. 69, 4064 f. 53.A letter dated February 20, 1704/5 from Thomas Walker, South Carolina, to Mr. Petiver discussed his salary.He spoke of being in distress, of having sent a letter to Gov. Nicholson of Virginia, and of having a great charge of children."Sloane Manuscripts" at p. 69, 4064 f. 58.
So by 1704 Thomas Walker is seeking a salary for his position as judge of the Admiralty, a position he apparently has held for several years, and is concerned with providing for his family.His daughter Sarah is generally listed as being born about 1700 and reportedly was dark skinned.Some have stated that Thomas Walker’s wife was a former slave or daughter of a slave.Being a mulatto apparently was not a social handicap in the Bahamas as demonstrated by Read Elding, a mulatto, who was appointed lieutenant governor in 1698.
Thomas Walker is listed as being an acting governor of the Bahamas in 1706 prior to the start of the pirate rule.During Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713) both French and Spanish pirates plundered the Bahamas.The fear of the settlers was so great that in 1710 as many as 32 families slept in the woods at night so they wouldn’t be surprised by the French."[B]ut on Harbour Island Captain Thomas Walker had raised a ‘small battery’ from the twelve families living there and had had four guns mounted.""Homeward Bound" at p. 53.Queen Anne died in 1714 and with her death Thomas Walker’s commission as judge of the Vice Admiralty Court had expired and was not renewed.Id. at p. 55.
In March 1715, Thomas Walker informed the Lords on the Council of Trade that in "discharging his duty and loyalty to his Majesty" he had spent his "time in takeing upp pirats and routeing them from amongst these islands" and promised to persevere in his pursuits until a new governor arrived.It was a dangerous time.In July 1716 John Vicker gave a deposition before Lieutenant Governor Spotswood of Virginia and described how Daniel Stillwell and a crew went to the coast of Cuba and took a Spanish launch with over 11,000 pieces of eight on board.Vicker continued, "Capt. Thomas Walker of Providence having received advice thereof from the Governor of Jamaica, seized Stillwell and his vessell, but upon the coming of [Benjamin] Hornigold to Providence, Stillwell was rescued and Capt. Walker threatened to have his house burned for offering to concern himself.Hornigold saying that all pirates were under his protection.""Homeward Bound" at p. 55.
In August 1716, pirates mounted guns in the fort and Thomas Walker had to flee to Charleston, South Carolina.Hornigold had not only threatened Walker’s life, but had promised to shoot his father as well."Homeward Bound" at p. 57.So apparently Thomas Walker’s father was still alive as of August 1716 and in the Bahamas, another indication that his father was Charles Walker of the 1671 census.Thomas Walker returned to the Bahamas sometime before July 1717.Ibid.
By July 1718 Thomas Walker was Chief Justice of the Bahamas and was Chief Justice under the first two royal governors. "About the 20th July 1718, Mr. Woodes Rogers, Governor and Vice-Admiral of the Bahama Islands, being sent from England with the King's proclamation and pardon for all pirates who had surrendered by a time specified in the said proclamation, arrived at Providence.""Early Settlers of the Bahamas" at p. 91."The next morning the Governor went on shore, being received at his landing by the principal people in the government of the place, viz.: Thomas Walker, Esq., Chief Justice, and Thomas Taylor, Esq., President of the Council."Id. at p. 92.
Thomas Walker died between 21 August and 4 September 1722."Homeward Bound" at p. 240, fn.8, citing, "Wills 1700-1750" pp. 15-16, Nassau Public Archives, Nassau, The Bahamas.Walker’s tombstone can be seen in the garden of an estate called Glenwood.On 27 March 1724, Sarah Walker married William Fairfax at Providence, the Bahamas.