Ball, Walter (c.1538–1598), merchant and philanthropist, was the eldest of the three sons of Bartholomew Ball (d. 1567?), merchant, and his wife, Margaret (qv) (née Bermingham). Prospering in business, Walter Ball drew income from tenanted land, held former monastic property, and owned houses at Ballygall, north Co. Dublin, and at Drogheda, Co. Louth, as well as on Merchants’ Quay and elsewhere in Dublin. He was sheriff of Dublin in 1572–3, alderman from 1573 and mayor in 1580–81. He was master of the Trinity guild of merchants in 1593–4, 1596–7 and 1598–9.
A committed protestant, he was perhaps influenced by Richard Ball, a relative who was a priest, and who resigned his benefice under Mary rather than suffer deprivation for having espoused the reformation under Edward. Walter Ball became in 1581 a member of the commission for ecclesiastical causes. He even, as a member of this commission, and while mayor, proceeded against his own mother for her attachment to catholicism. He promoted a protestant school in Ship Street, raised money for the establishment of TCD, was one of three trustees appointed in 1592 to take possession of All Hallows’ monastery for the new college, and set up bursaries to maintain four scholars.
Walter Ball died on 8 December 1598 and was buried in St Audoen's, Dublin. He married Eleanor, daughter of another alderman, Robert Ussher, of Santry, Co. Dublin. They had four sons and two daughters: Robert (1572–1635?), mayor of Dublin in 1604–5 and 1609–10; Edward (c.1579–1625), mayor of Dublin in 1621–2; George, a lawyer; John (d. c.1650); Rose (d. 1604), wife of Luke Challoner (qv), a protestant divine prominent in the foundation of TCD; and Katherine, who married Patrick Segrave, a Palesman. Robert, who inherited the bulk of his father's property, had a son and heir, William (d. 1649), who was educated at Leyden and who became MP for Kells. Walter Ball, in contrast to his brother Nicholas (qv) (c.1540–1610), is an example of a member of an old patrician family who conformed to Elizabeth I's reformation of the Irish church. His will, in which he affirmed his protestantism, has been printed.