Bourke, Walter (d. 1715), soldier, was first of seven sons of Richard Bourke of Turlough, Co. Mayo (son of Theobald Bourke and Margaret, 3rd daughter of Theobald, 1st Viscount Mayo), and his wife Celia, daughter of Dermot O'Shaughnessy, of the ancient family of Gort, Co. Galway. His father failed to obtain a restoration of his estate in Turlough in 1660, which was conferred on John Fitzgerald of Gurtine, Co. Kilkenny, who had been transplanted from Kilkenny to Co. Mayo by Cromwell (qv). Fitzgerald finally received a patent for this estate under the acts of settlement on 5 May 1677.
Walter finally regained possession of his father's estate in James II's (qv) reign and was elected MP for Mayo in James II's Irish parliament. He appeared in the TCD lists of James II's army (ed. John D'Alton (qv)), although Murtagh suggests that it is unlikely that he raised a regiment until February 1690, when the regiment of Arthur Dillon (qv), in which Bourke served as lieutenant-general, entered the French service. He held the rank of colonel in a regiment of infantry in the army that served with Patrick Sarsfield (qv) on the Cavan–Westmeath–Longford border, at the battle of the Boyne, in the first siege of Limerick, and during the attack by Ginkel (qv) on Athlone in 1691. He also served with great distinction at Aughrim: his regiment was posted at the old castle on Aughrim Hill, where he gallantly held out until all his ammunition was exhausted. Bourke's problems were compounded by the fact that he was issued with a reserve supply of English ammunition which could not be used in the narrow-bore French muskets. His men ripped the buttons from their tunics and fired them at the advancing Williamites. G. A. Hayes-McCoy (qv) suggests that Bourke attempted to sally out and retire towards Galway, but his force was heavily outnumbered and he was forced to surrender with his major, eleven other officers, and forty men.
Bourke elected to join James II in France and his property was again confiscated and restored to John Fitzgerald. He suffered a demotion to lieutenant-colonel. He was not attached to the Franco–Irish invasion force of 1692, whose descent was frustrated by the naval defeat at la Hogue. However, he showed exceptional valour at the battle of Marsaglia in 1693. He was commissioned to succeed Sir Maurice Eustace of Castlemartin, Co. Kildare, son of the lord chancellor Sir Maurice Eustace (qv) (d. 1665), as commander of the regiment of Athlone. However, after the general reform of the French and Jacobite armies in 1698 the remains of the regiment of Athlone, the king's dismounted dragoons, and the 3rd independent company were amalgamated to form a regiment of foot for the duke of Berwick (qv), to which Walter Bourke was attached as a reformed colonel. In June 1699 he became colonel of another regiment of Irish infantry, the regiment of Bourke. Created brigadier by brevet for his services in the Italian campaign, he later moved to the Spanish theatre. Created maréchal de champ, he later fought under Berwick. Louis XIV gave him permission to transfer to the service of his grandson Philip V, but he died in Barcelona (March 1715) before taking up his appointment.
By his marriage to Catherine, daughter of John Nolan, esq., of Iniscrone, he had a son Richard, captain in the French army, besides numerous daughters, including one who married a son of Sir Richard Nagle (qv), James II's attorney general in Ireland. On Burke's death his regiment passed to the regiment's lieutenant-colonel, Francis Wauchop.