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“Walton, crime it were to leave unsung
Thy gentle mind, thy breast unblanch'd by wrong:
And, vivid glowing on the graphic page,
Thy guileless manners, and thy hallowed age."


Izaak Walton was born at Stafford on the 9th of August, 1593, and was baptized there on the 21st of September following. He was the son of Jervis Walton of that town, who is presumed to have been the second son of George Walton, some time bailiff of Yoxhall,” a small village about fifteen miles from Stafford; beyond whom the pedigree cannot be traced with certainty.

The name of Walton existed in Staffordshire at an early period, and was general in that county about the middle of the sixteenth century, at which time the family were substantial yeomen. Of Izaak Walton's father, Jervis Walton, nothing has been discovered, except what occurs in the register of St. Mary's church at Stafford, from which it may be inferred that he had a second son named Ambrose, who was buried on the 3rd March, 1595-6, and who probably died young.

Jervis Walton died early in February, 1596-7, and was buried at St. Mary's on the 11th of that month. Of his wife, not even the name has been discovered; and it is doubtful whether she survived her husband.

At the tender age of four years, IZAAK Walton seems therefore to have been thrown upon the world an orphan. Of his childhood, his guardians, or the means by which he was supported, nothing whatever is known. He received a good, though not, strictly speaking, a classical

1 " 1593, Septem. Baptiz. fuit Isaac filius Jervis Walton xxj die mensis et anni prædict." —Register of St. Mary's, Stafford. The date of his birth is shewn by the preamble to his will.

2 See Pedigree, No. I. in the Appendix. To the signature to his will he added “ late baylie of Yoxhall.”.

3 Some remarks on the pedigree of the Walton family will be found in Note K in the Appendix.


education, and it is likely that he was sent to the grammar school of his native town; but not a single fact can be stated respecting him from the time of his baptism, until he attained his twentieth year, when he appears to have been a resident of London. Neither the cause nor the period of his removal from Stafford to the metropolis has been ascertained; though it is probable that he was apprenticed when very young, to a distant relation of the name of Henry Walton, who was haberdasher at Whitechapel.

The earliest notice of Walton after his birth is of


5 This conjecture is principally founded on the following facts. It is well known that Izaak Walton followed the trade of a sempster or haberdasher. Henry Walton, “citizen and haberdasher, of White

, chapel,” is so described in the will of his cousin Samuel Walton, of St. Mary's Cray, in Kent, gentleman, son of Henry Walton, citizen and cloth-worker, of London, dated on the 2nd, and proved on the 9th of April, 1631; and his connection with the county of Stafford is shewn by the testator's mentioning his uncle John Walton, of Mathfield, in that county, who may have been the father of the said Henry Walton of Whitechapel. An abstract of Henry Walton's will is inserted in Note L in the Appendix, where other reasons are stated for thinking the hypothesis correct. The records of the Haberdashers’ Company do not contain the names of Henry or Izaak Walton between 1600 and 1630. Sir John Hawkins supposes that Walton first settled in London as a shopkeeper in the Royal Exchange, under the patronage of Sir Thomas Gresham, but his opinion has been shewn to be erroneous. See Anthony Wood, Athen. Oxon. ed. Bliss. I. 698.

6 It is necessary to advert to an article which appeared in a weekly publication, called “ The Freebooter,” on the 18th of October, 1823, where it is stated that “there is a manuscript in the Lansdowne collection of the British Museum, which throws some light upon the early life of Izaak Walton. By whom it was written and at what precise date, does not appear; but the handwriting is evidently of about the time of the Revolution, and in it the author speaks of Walton as 'not long since deceased, to the great grief of all his loving friends.'”

The MS., it is said, refers very much to the interval between his birth in 1593 and 1624: “it fixes the place of his education at Stafford, where he was born, and from whence he removed to London, where he was regularly apprenticed to one Holmes, a sempster, with whom he ived until he was twenty-two or twenty-three years old. Sir J. Hawkins conjectures that he married about 1632, but on what ground it is difficult to discover: now the author of this MS. asserts that Walton “took a wife' before he was twenty-four years old, and while he held a shop near the Exchange. The date of his removal into Fleet Street is not supplied with precision, but it is clear that it was at least as early as 1618, and after his marriage; but the document is written in a rough, sketchy style, and consists generally rather of biographical hints and anecdotes than of regular details of events relating to any of the persons mentioned in the volume, of which the

a very interesting nature, as it is intimately connected with those literary pursuits, to which he is indebted for the regard of posterity. In 1619 a small poem was published, entitled “The Love of Amos and Laura, written by S. P.” which was dedicated to Walton in the following verses:

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To thee, thou more then thrice beloved friend,

I too unworthy of so great a bliss ;
These harsh-tun'd lines I here to thee commend,

Thou being cause it is now as it is :
For hadst thou held thy tongue, by silence might
These have been buried in oblivious night.
If they were pleasing, I would call them thine,

And disavow my title to the verse :
But being bad, I needs must call them mine.

No ill thing can be clothed in thy verse.
Accept them then, and where I have offended,
Rase thou it out, and let it be amended.

S. P.”7

notice of Walton forms a very small part.”.

« The author of the MS. speaks of Walton as a very sweet poet in his youth, and more than all in matters of love."

In consequence of this statement considerable trouble has been taken to discover the MS. alluded to; but no trace of it can be found in the British Museum; and it is presumed that the article is a mere fiction. No reference is given to the volume in which it is said to occur; and if such an interesting account of Walton really existed in a collection so well known and so fully catalogued as the Lansdowne MSS., it is impossible to suppose that it would not long since have been brought to light; or that it would have escaped the particular search which has been recently made for it. Be this however as it may, little reliance could be placed on the article, even if it were genuine, because one of the few facts stated in it can be disproved, as it is said that Walton married before he was twenty-four years of age, whereas his marriage took place in December, 1626, when he was about thirty-three; and there is not the slightest cause to suppose that he had a former wife. But the article in question is not the only doubtful statement which has been published respecting Walton: his residence in the Royal Exchange; his retirement in 1643 to a cottage in Staffordshire, where Dr. Morley is said to have found an asylum; and his having written the epitaph of an old servant called “ David Hookham!(a name very appropriately chosen for the purpose), who died in 1647, ætat. 63, (vide Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. C. part II. p. 296), are equally apocryphal.

7 Attention was first drawn to this poem by J. Payne Collier, esq. in the Poetical Decameron, vol. ii. p. 111. A copy of “The Love of Amos and Laura,” 18mo. ed. 1619, will be found in the British Mu

It was again printed in 4to. in 1628. See Note 8.




It is evident that Walton either suggested various improvements in, or had written part of the poem, whilst two of the lines prove that it was printed at his recommendation. The poem was first published in 1613, six years before, together with three others; but in the only known copy of that edition, which is unfortunately imperfect, the verses to Walton do not occur; and it is doubtful whether they were omitted, or have been abstracted from that particular copy. As there is no variation (excepting of a single word) between the two editions, the alterations, which the Author so gratefully acknowledges, must have been made in the original manuscript; and as Walton was only twenty years of age in 1613, the love of literature, which never deserted him, must have commenced at a very early period of his life. Much light would perhaps be thrown upon this part of Walton's career, if “ his more than thrice beloved friend,” S. P. could be identified; but the attempt to discover him has not been successful, though some circumstances render it likely that the initials were those of Samuel Purchas, the author of “ The Pilgrimage,” who is known to have written various miscellaneous pieces, besides the works which bear his name.

Sir John Hawkins states, on the authority of a deed in his possession, that in 1624 “Walton dwelt on the north side of Fleet Street, in a house two doors west of the end of Chancery Lane, and abutting on a messuage known by the sign of the Harrow, and that his house was then in the joint occupation of himself and a hosier called John Mason."9 Before that time the celebrated Dr. Donne became vicar of St. Dunstans in the West; and an intimacy arose between Walton, who was then one of his parishioners, and himself, which ended only with

8 In the library of Benjamin Heywood Bright, Esq. The title is “Alcilia. Philoparthens louing folly. whereunto js added Pigmalions Image: with the Loue of Amos and Lavra and also Epigrammes by Sir J. H. and others. never before imprinted. London for Richard Hawkins dwelling in Chancery Lane near Sarjeants Inn, 1613.” 4to. At the end of Alcilia [edit. 1619.) are the initials, J. C. (John Chalkhill ?] Pigmalion's Image is by John Marston, and the Epigrams by Sir John Harington. Amos and Laura in this copy is without the dedication, and is imperfect at the end.

9 Sir John Hawkins's Life of Walton, edited by Sir Henry Ellis, K. H. and prefixed to the edition of the Complete Angler published by Bagster in 1815.

Donne's life. The veneration which Walton entertained for his learned friend is exhibited in the memoir which he prefixed to the publication of his sermons, as well as in the elegy which he wrote upon his decease.

It was probably through Dr. Donne that Walton became acquainted with Sir Henry Wotton, Dr. Henry King, son of the Bishop of London, John Hales of Eton, and some other eminent persons, particularly divines. He was also slightly known to Ben Jonson ;10 he speaks of Drayton, on one occasion, as his “honest old friend,” and on another as his “old deceased friend;"l1 and he

:11 appears to have lived on terms of intimacy with many of the most distinguished literary men of his age.

Such part of his time as was not occupied by his business seems, therefore, to have been passed in the society of men whose acquaintance is sufficient proof of the esteem in which his talents were held; whilst the friendship of Donne, King, and Wotton, is ample evidence of his moral worth. As some of the individuals alluded to were fond of the amusement of Angling, it is probable that many of his leisure hours were passed with them in piscatory excursions on the banks of the river Lea; and his amiable and placid temper, his agreeable conversation, and unaffected benevolence, inspired them with esteem and regard.

After having been more than ten years in business, Walton thought himself justified in incurring the expense and cares of married life. His biographers have fallen into great mistakes respecting his wives; for, according to Sir John Hawkins and Dr. Zouch, he was only once married; and the latter describes him to have derived an hereditary attachment to the Protestant religion, from his mother having been the daughter of Edmund Cranmer, Archdeacon of Canterbury, and niece of Archbishop Cranmer. Subsequent writers have doubted the accuracy of these statements; and whilst they have indulged in various conjectures on the subject, without arriving at the fact, every edition of “The Complete Angler," except the first, has contained proof of the

, name of his wife.12

10 Vide postea.

11 Vide pp. 180, 294, postea. 12 This fact was first pointed out in the New Series of the Retrospective Review, vol. ii. p. 341, by the Author of this Memoir.

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