William Walton

Birth: 1784


William Walton (1784-1857), writer on Spain, the son of William Walton who was consul for Spain in Liverpool, was born in 1784, and at an early age was sent to Spain and Portugal to study the languages and fit himself for a commercial career. Thence he seems to have gone to the Spanish American colonies, and became secretary to the British expedition which captured San Domingo from the French in 1802.

He was taken prisoner by the French, but released. For some time he remained in that country as British agent, returning to England in 1809. He thenceforward devoted himself chiefly to writing on the current politics of Spain and Portugal, apparently residing first at Bristol and afterwards in London. For the most part he was against the policy pursued by the British ministers.

He is said to have been deputed by the Mexicans in 1815 to offer their crown to the Duke of Gloucester. He took a great interest in the question of naturalising the alpaca, and wrote two or three essays on the subject, the latest being in competition for the medal of the Highland and Agricultural Society in 1841. He died at Oxford on 5 May 1857.

His works on his one subject are rather voluminous, but for the most part appear to lack a permanent value. He states that he had contemplated a history of the Spanish colonies, but lost the papers he had collected, partly as a prisoner, partly at sea. His chief works are: 1. 'The present State of the Spanish Colonies, including an Account of Hispaniola,' London, 1810. 2. 'An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Four Species of Peruvian Sheep,' London, 1811. 3. 'An Expose of the Dissensions of Spanish America,' London, 1814. 4. 'The true Interests of the European Powers and of the Empire of Brazil in reference to ... Portugal,' with other pamphlets, London, 1829 (the copy in the British Museum contains an autograph letter to the Duke of Sussex). 5. 'Letter to Viscount Goderich respecting the relations of England and Portugal,' London, 1830. 6. 'Spain, or who is the lawful Successor to the Throne?' London, 1834. 7. 'Legitimacy the only Salvation of Spain,' London, 1835. 8. 'Revolutions of Spain,' London, 1837. 9. 'The Alpaca: a Plan for its Naturalisation,' London, 1844. More than a dozen other letters to statesmen and similar political pamphlets, all on Spain and Portugal, are noted in the British Museum catalogue. Walton also translated two or three works from the French.

[Gent. Mag. 1857, ii. 96; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; British Museum Cat.]


Charles Alexander Harris, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59. pgs. 280-281.

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