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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Obadiah Walker

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OBADIAH WALKER (1616-1699), master of University College, Oxford, was born at Dal-field near Barnsley, Yorkshire, and was educated at University College, Oxford, becoming a fellow and tutor of this society and a prominent figure in university circles. In July 1648 the action of parliament deprived him of his academic appointments, and he passed some years in teaching, studying and travelling, returning to Oxford at the restoration of 1660, and beginning a few years later to take a leading part in the work of University College. In June 1676 he was elected to the headship of this foundation, and in this capacity he collected money for some rebuilding, and forwarded the preparation of a Latin edition of Sir John Spelman's Life of Alfred the Great, published by the college. This was the time of Titus Oates and the popish plots, and some of Walker's writings made him suspect; however, no serious steps were taken against him, although Oxford booksellers were forbidden to sell his book, The benefits of our Saviour Jesus Christ to mankind, and he remained a Protestant, in name at least, until the accession of James II. Soon after this event he came forward as a Roman Catholic, and he advised the new king with regard to affairs in Oxford, being partly responsible for the tactless conduct of James in forcing a quarrel with the fellows of Magdalen College. Mass was said in his residence, and later a chapel was opened in the college for the worship of the Roman Church; he and others received a royal licence to absent themselves from the services of the English Church, and he obtained another to supervise the printing of Roman Catholic books. In spite of growing unpopularity he remained loyal to James, and when the king fled from England Walker left Oxford, doubtless intending to join his master abroad. But in December 1688 he was arrested at Sittingbourne and was imprisoned; then, having lost his mastership, he was charged at the bar of the House of Commons with changing his religion and with other offences. Early in 1690 he was released from his confinement, and after subsisting for some years largely on the charity of his friend and former pupil, Dr John Radcliffe, he died on the 21st of January 1699.

Walker's principal writings are: Of education, especially of young gentlemen (Oxford, 1673, and six other editions); Ars rationis ad mentem nominalium libri tres (Oxford, 1673); and Greek and Roman History illustrated by Coins and Medals (London, 1692).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Obadiah Walker'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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