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Wallace's genealogy

Posted by George Beccaloni on Nov 15, 2012 12:32:14 PM

For some time I have been trying to piece together a detailed genealogy of Alfred Russel Wallace and his close family and assemble a collection of photos of as many of them as possible. Given that 'Wallace year' is fast approaching and others may be interested in this information too for publications, exhibitions etc, I decided to update the Wallace genealogy page on the Wallace Memorial fund's website and link the names of people to images of them, where these are available. Unfortunately no images are available of 5 of Wallace's brothers and sisters, although this actually not surprising as they all died before the days of cheap commercial photography.

 

As can be seen from what I have managed to compile so far, there is still a fair amount of information missing, especially for Wallace's more distant relatives. One or two of these people were quite famous during their lifetimes, such as his "...mother's grandfather, who died in 1797, aged 80, was for many years an alderman, and twice Mayor of Hertford (in 1773 and 1779), as stated in the records of the borough. He was buried in St. Andrew's churchyard." (quoted from Wallace's autobiography My Life). Wallace didn't give his name and I have not managed to find any information about him. I even went to the graveyard of St. Andrew's church with Wallace historian Charles Smith, in September last year and tried to find his grave, with no luck. We did, however, find the grave of Wallace's maternal grandfather John Greenell (1747 - 15 July 1824) and his second wife Rebecca - see below.

CharlesSmithAtGraveOfJohnGreenell.jpgCharles Smith beside the grave of John Greenell.
Copyright Janet Beccaloni

GraveOfJohnGreenell.jpg

Close-up of the grave. The inscription reads: "Sacred to the memory of John Greenell, Esq. Who was 70 years an Inhabitant of this Town and died on the 15th Day of July 1824 in the 79th year of his Age, having uniformly practised every Christian Virtue." Copyright Janet Beccaloni.

 

In his autobiography, My Life, Wallace recounts the family belief that they were descended on the male side from the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace. He says "As all the Wallaces of Scotland are held to be various branches of the one family of the hero Sir William Wallace, we have always considered ourselves to be descended from that famous stock; and this view is supported by the fact that our family crest was said to be an ostrich's head with a horseshoe in its mouth, and this crest belongs, according to Burke's "Peerage," to Craigie-Wallace, one of the branches of the patriot's family." It would be very exciting indeed if one were able to prove this distinguished ancestry, but I very much doubt it will be possible!

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