Sir Walter Stirling was born to Walter Stirling, an admiral in the Royal Navy, and Dorothy Willing. He first worked in banking before embarking on a political career. He became the Member of Parliament for Gatton from 1798 and 1802, High Sheriff of Kent in 1804 and Member of Parliament for St. Ives between 1807 and 1812. He was created a baronet on 4 November 1800. On 28 April 1794, he married Susannah, daughter and sole heiress of George Trenehard Goodenough, with whom he had five chidren: one son and four daughters.