National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Johnnie Walker (1805-1857)

Johnnie Walker (1805-1857)

Whisky blender

Johnnie Walker set up as a grocer in Kilmarnock and started to blend whisky to achieve a consistent taste. This worked well and the business was developed further by his son and grandsons. They produced a commercial blend and used a square bottle for more compact storage and ease of transport. Johnnie Walker Red Label and Johnnie Walker Black Label went on to become one of the most famous and widely-distributed brands of blended whisky in the world.

Birth in 1805

John Walker was born on 25 July 1805, the son of Alexander Walker and Elizabeth Gemmel in Toddriggs. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Riccarton
was added to the register in 1823 having been 'omitted in 1805'.

Birth entry for Johnnie Walker

Birth entry for Johnnie Walker (27 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 611/2

Marriage in 1833

John Walker married Elizabeth Purvis on 19 November 1833. There are two entries in the Old Parish Registers. The first in the OPR for Riccarton (her parish) is dated 16 November and states that they 'entered their names, were regularly proclaimed three times on one sabbath and married by Mr Moody on the 19th Nov[embe]r'.

Marriage entry for Johnnie Walker - Riccarton

Proclamation of banns and marriage entry for Johnnie Walker in the Old Parish Register for Riccarton (30 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 611/2, page 122

The second in the OPR for Kilmarnock (his parish given as Low Church parish) is dated 19 November 1833 and confirms that 'after proclamation were married'.

Marriage entry for Johnnie Walker - Kilmarnock

Marriage entry for Johnny Walker in the OPR for Kilmarnock (17 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 597/11, page 109

1841 and 1851 censuses

In 1841 John Walker, 35, grocer was enumerated at Kilmaurs Road in Kilmarnock.  Ages over 15 years were rounded down to the nearest five in 1841.The census return shows the household included his wife, Elizabeth, and children Alexander (4), Robert (2) and Elizabeth (1 month). All were born in the county (Y).

1841 census return for Johnnie Walker

1841 census return for Johnnie Walker (51 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/597/13, page 7

In 1851 John Walker, 45, grocer and spirit dealer, was emumerated at Walker's Land, India Street in the parish of Kilmarnock. The census return provides information about his two daughters and three sons.

1851 census return for Johnnie Walker

1851 census return for Johnnie Walker (34 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/597/2, page 30

Death in 1857

John Walker, 52, grocer died at 9:30 pm on 19 October 1847. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for Kilmarnock gives the place of death as his home at India Street in Kilmarnock, his father's occupation as farmer. The place of interment was St Andrews Burying Ground as certified by the sexton. The informant was his son Alexander Walker who was present at the death.

Death entry for Johnnie Walker

Death entry for Johnnie Walker (37KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1857/597/477

Testament of John Walker

John Walker's will was registered on 28 November 1847 at Ayr Sheriff Court (SC6/44/24, pp 943-954). It includes an inventory which records his occupation as grocer and spirit merchant.

Detail from inventory of Johnnie Walker

Detail from inventory of Johnnie Walker (53KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC6/44/24, page 944