Rev Robert Francis Walker MA

Curate of Purleigh and Christian Author

Robert Francis Walker was born at Oxford on 15 January 1789.

Rev Walker

At the age of 11 years he was sent to Magdelan College School where he became a chorister.

During a visit by Admiral Lord Nelson to the School he sang in the choir and Nelson was so taken by his voice that Nelson gave him half a guinea in commendation of his singing. The following day Nelson saw young Robert sketching and again commended him.

He moved on to New College where he obtained a BA in December 1811 and in the following year was ordained as Chaplain to New College.

Walker continued to study and in 1813 he was awarded an MA and was accepted for priests orders.

In 1815 he became curate of Taplow in Buckinghamshire and then moved to Henley on Thames before accepting the post of Curate at Purleigh in 1819.

The Rector at the time was Rev E Copleston who resided at Oxford and was later to become the Bishop of Llandaff was not resident in the parish most of the time and the position gave young Robert the opportunity that he sought.

He was to remain at Purleigh for 30 years until illness prevented his work from continuing.

Walker was deeply religious and very conscientious as to his duties as identified in his quote below

Every hour comes laden with duty and then flies to heaven to register how spent

It behoves every servant of God generally and particularly every minister of Jesus Christ to make a right use of the precious time allotted him within the space of this short and uncertain life.

In 1824 his wife died leaving him to continue his Ministry and bring up his son John and the other young children.

By 1830 he had remarried to once again bring the female touch into family life.

Sadly 1933 brought pain into the life of Rev Walker with the death of John aged 14 yrs on 6 May 1833 and his step brother Albert shortly afterwards  when he was only a few months old.

A chance meeting with some German students who were preparing for missionary work encouraged Rev Walker to develop an interest in missionaries and the German Language.

He then began to read Christian writing written in German and enjoyed the works so much that he translated many into English.

Robert Francis Walker died on 31 January 1854 and was buried before a large congregation of Parishioners and Clerical brethren in the Churchyard at Purleigh .

Sketch of Purleigh Church by Rev Walker

A sketch of Purleigh Church by Rev Walker

Books written or translated by Rev Walker

1835 - Sermons by the Rev Lewis Hofacker

1836 - Elijah the Tishbite by the Rev F W Krummacher

1837 - A Memoir of the life and writings of the Rev John Albert Bengel

1837 - A brief history of the Church of Christ by the Rev C G Barth

1838 - A glimpse of the Kingdom of Grace : Eight sermons, by the same

1840 - A general history by Dr Barth

1843 - A memoir of the Rev H E Rauschenbursch

1844 - Christian missions by the Rev C T Blumhardt


Poor Henry; A tale by Rev C G Barth

The coming of the Lord by the Rev S C Kapff

Jehovah Zidenu, “The Lord our righteousness" by the Rev F Sander


Most of the material for the information on Rev Walker was taken from a Memoir of the Rev Robert Francis Walker MA written by the Rev Thomas Pyne MA Incumbent of Hook, Surrey  on the death of Rev Walker in 1854.

The preface by the author is an insight into why Rev Walker was such an important figure in the life of Purleigh.

To the Parishioners of Purleigh, Essex.

This record of a pastor justly endeared to them by his holy and lovely character, and by his abundant labours amon g them during many years in the ministry of the gospel is with the highest sentiments of christian consideration and goodwill, inscribed.