Shirley, William Walter
b Staunton Har(r)old, nr Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics 1725, d Dublin 1786. Born into the aristocratic nobility, he became ‘the Hon and Rev’ Walter Shirley on his ordination in 1749 in the (Anglican) Ch of Ireland. He was a cousin of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (see under ‘Lady Huntingdon…’), and assisted in the compilation of hymn-books (in 1770 etc) for her connexion of chapels and preachers. Like her he was also an evangelical associate of Whitefield and the Wesleys; he ministered mainly in the parish of Loughrea, Co Galway, W Ireland. When illness prevented him from mounting the church pulpit or even attending services, he would preach seated on a chair, to a crowded congregation in the drawing room of his spacious home. His best-known hymn, built on a text by James Allen qv, was known (like others) to earlier generations of Strict or Grace Baptists but has reached well beyond evangelical hymn-books and is often marked ‘Passiontide’. No.745.