A few weeks ago we posted an account of William Wallace of John Wallace & Sons, Glasgow, from 1894. The Scottish Farmer published William Wallace’s obituary on May 18, 1912.
While this is important in recording the great William Wallace’s achievements, it also provides a good deal of information about his role within the wider public life of Glasgow, and the important contribution that he made to it. It also sets out some of the wider history of the eminent firm of John Wallace & Sons, and the wider role of the family within Scottish and world agriculture.
“Mr William Wallace, J.P.
Throughout the agricultural world there will be abiding sorrow at the tidings of ex-Bailie William Wallace, managing director of the well-known firm of John Wallace & Sons (Ltd), implement makers and agents, Glasgow. Mr Wallace was for many months a sufferer, and he might have said that he had suffered many things of physicians, and had been little the better. He passed away on Monday, 13th inst., in his own home, 5 Oakley Terrace, Dennistoun, Glasgow, aged sixty-five.
Mr Wallace belonged to an old Ayrshire family, hailing from the parish of Fenwick. He was born in Dalkeith while his father was foreman in Mushatt’s Foundry in that town. Subsequently Mr John Wallace removed to Mill of Haldane, in Kilmaronock parish, Dumbartonshire. There he kept the local “smiddy”, and developed that skill in handling agricultural machinery and implements which eventually went to the establishing of the reputation of his firm as one of the foremost in that trade. At Mill of Haldane Mr William Wallace and his elder brother, Mr James, who predeceased him, were brought up, and made their first acquaintance with their future trade in the country “smiddy”. About half a century ago the family removed to Glasgow, and James and William joined their father in founding the firm that has long been in the front. Mr James Wallace devoted himself more to the mechanical side of the business, and was therefore not so well known publicly as his brother. Mr William Wallace for many years was the representative of the firm at all the principal shows, and in many of the chief market towns. He was a first-rate business man, a good salesman, with a fine commercial instinct, and honourable and straightforward to a degree. Possibly there was in broad Scotland no better known or more widely respected member of the implement trade. A life member of the principal agricultural societies, he frequently was chosen as the spokesman of his trade when arranging details with these institutions. He also devoted much time and attention to the work of the Glasgow Agricultural Society, of which he was for various terms a director.
In 1902 Mr Wallace entered the Glasgow Town Council, and soon won a foremost place in its committees. He was not fond of public speaking, but when occasion required he could give quite a good account of himself at the Council board. His best work, however, was done in committee, and so highly were his qualities esteemed that after a comparatively short probation he found his way to the bench. As a magistrate, Bailie Wallace shone. He was essentially a man of kindly disposition, and aimed at being just. On the bench these qualities had full play, and he was held in much esteem as one of the best of the citizen magistrates. Identified throughout his life with the total abstinence movement, his experiences as a magistrate confirmed him more and more in the belief that the liquor traffic was prejudicial to the best interests of society. If possible, his total abstinence principles became more pronounced as he advanced in years, and in connection with that matter he was well known to be one of the temperance stalwarts in the licensing bench. He was a representative of the Town Council on the governing bodies of the West of Scotland Agricultural College and the Glasgow Veterinary College, and he also devoted much attention to the affairs of the Scottish Labour Colony.
Altogether, Bailie Wallace spent a worthy, noble life, working for the good of his fellow-men, and in business relationships securing the cordial goodwill of customers and competitors. He was universally recognised as a “white man”, one who played the game, and never feared either to express his opinions or to act up to them. He is survived by Mrs Wallace, who was in all points a most worthy helpmeet, and their family of four sons and one daughter. Two of the sons-Messrs John F. and Duncan-are in the form of John Wallace & Sons (Ltd); one-Mr Wm B. Wallace, formerly farmed at Broomhouse, Corstorphine, and is now farming in Surrey; and the fourth is in South Africa. To Mrs Wallace and her family we tender our respectful sympathy. The funeral, which was private, took place on Thursday to Janefield Cemetary, Glasgow.”
William Wallace, a great name for a great man!
Photograph: the “Richmond” potato planter, made by John Wallace & Sons, Glasgow, c 1914. The photograph was taken at the Strathnairn Vintage Rally and Farming Show, September 2014.
© 2016 Heather Holmes