The Walker family rose to prominence as landed gentry in the East Riding of Yorkshire from the late eighteenth century onwards and by the late nineteenth century owned several thousand acres in the East Riding and half a million pounds worth of personal estate. The family's lineage can be traced to James Walker (1680-1753) a merchant of Manchester whose son by his second wife Mary Carte, James Walker (1719-1789), moved to Hull. His older half-brother, John Walker, died unmarried in 1757 and he succeeded to the family assets. Therefore, in 1758 he bought a late seventeenth century mansion house and 200 acres from William Crowle, a Hull merchant, at Springhead, Cottingham (DDCV/67/30; Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Allison, History of the county of York East Riding, iv, p. 69; Burke, Peerage and baronetege).
James Walker was a fellow of the Royal Society. He married first Alice Goodwin in 1744 and then Elizabeth Wentworth and was succeeded in 1789 by his son, another James Walker (b.1753), who married Jane Porter. He had by her one son, James Walker (b.1803) and two daughters, Jane and Harriett. He died in 1829 (Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Burke, Peerage and baronetege).
The papers in the collection begin with the parliamentary career of this James Walker. He was a justice of the peace and became high sheriff of Yorkshire in 1846. He married Mary Denison and had by her one son, James Robert Walker (b.1829). His wife died in 1830 when the child was less than a year old and he married secondly Maria Thompson, in 1833. He had by his second wife seven sons and three daughters. He was created baronet in 1868 and died in 1883 (Foster, Pedigrees, iii).
His eldest son, James Robert Walker became Conservative candidate for Beverley 1859-1865; his second son, Frederick James Walker (b.1835), became a justice of the peace for the North Riding and resided at Claxton Hall with his wife, Grace Charlotte Champney, and their three children; and his third son, Charles Francis Walker (b.1836), was a midshipman during the Crimean War and rose to the rank of captain in 1871 after over a decade of service off the coast of China. His younger sons went into the army and his daughters married locally. The papers in the collection relate largely to the eldest branch of the family at Sand Hutton and to the younger branch of the family represented by Charles Francis Walker and his family at The Hall in Beverley. James Walker, first baronet, was succeeded to the title by his eldest son (Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Burke, Peerage and baronetege).
James Robert Walker (b.1829) married Louisa Susan Marlborough Heron Maxwell in 1863. They had nine children, the eldest of whom was James Heron Walker (b.1865). He died in 1899. His eldest son, succeeded as third baronet but died prematurely in 1900, leaving his eldest son by his wife Violet Maude Cecil, Robert James Milo Walker (b.1890), aged only ten years to succeed as fourth baronet (Burke, Peerage and baronetege).
Robert James Milo Walker took MA at Trinity College Cambridge and was in the Coldstream Guards. He married first Synolda Thursby-Pelham in 1913 and, after divorce, married secondly in 1923 Esme Ethel Alice de Beaumont. He had two sons by his first wife, the eldest being James Heron Walker (b.1914).
Returning to the younger branch of the family, Captain Charles Francis Walker retired from the navy in 1873 and was made a Rear-Admiral in 1888. He married quite late, in 1883, to Edith Frances Duncombe and the couple had two sons, Edgar Wilmer Walker and Philip Charles Walker. The former was killed in action in October 1914 as were quite a number of male members of the extended Walker family (DDVC/67/7). He left a wife, Charlotte nee Rankin, and one child. Philip Charles Walker became rector of Lockington and in 1916 married Dorothy Howard. Admiral Charles Francis Walker lived to the age of 89 years, dying in 1925. One of the scrapbooks in the collection is a personal memorial book compiled by a member of his family.