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Robert Wallace (Edinburgh MP)

Robert Wallace
Taken from the frontispiece of his biography: Robert Wallace: Life and Last Leaves.
Taken from the frontispiece of his biography: Robert Wallace: Life and Last Leaves.
Born(1831-06-24)24 June 1831
Kincaple, St. Andrews, Scotland, UK
Died6 June 1899(1899-06-06) (aged 67)
London, UK
GenreNon-fiction, biography, theology
SpouseMargaret Robertson
Robert Wallace c1895

Robert Wallace (24 June 1831 – 6 June 1899) was a British writer who had a varied career as a classics teacher, minister, university professor, newspaper editor, barrister and finally a Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East.

Personal life and education

Wallace was born on 24 June 1831 at Kincaple near St. Andrews, Fife, and was the second son of Jasper Wallace, a gardener, and Elizabeth Archibald. He was educated at the Geddes Institution, Culross, Fife, and at the University of St. Andrews where he graduated M.A. in 1853.


Wallace was appointed classical master at Cupar Academy in 1854, shortly after graduating from university.[1] In July 1857 he was licensed as a minister by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and he was ordained at Newton-on-Ayr Church of Scotland in December.[2]

Three years later Wallace transferred to Trinity Parish Church, Edinburgh, before transferring again in December 1868, to Old Greyfriars, Edinburgh.[2] While he was minister at Old Greyfriars Church he was involved in attempts to reform and modernise the Church of Scotland. As a result, his fitness to be a minister was questioned[3] and presumably this controversy influenced his decision to leave the clerical profession in August 1876. He was awarded the honorary doctorate of D.D. by Glasgow University in 1869. He was created Professor of Church History at Edinburgh University in 1872.[4] At this time he lived at 17 Gayfield Square at the top of Leith Walk.[5]

After leaving his clerical role Wallace was appointed editor of The Scotsman newspaper, a position he held until November 1880.[2] In November 1883 he studied law and called the English Bar at the Middle Temple, London.[2]

Wallace was elected as Liberal Member of Parliament for the Edinburgh East in the 1886 election and remained so till his death.[2]

He died in London on 6 June 1899.[6]


Plaque to Robert Wallace in Greyfriars Kirk

On 10 March 1858 he married Margaret Robertson (died 1898) daughter of James Robertson of Cupar in Fife. They had six sons and one daughter:[4]

  • Robert Lamb Wallace (1858-1894) barrister
  • James Robertson Wallace MD (b. 1860)
  • William John Wallace (1861-1862)
  • Patrick Robertson Wallace (b. 1862)
  • Archibald Duncan Wallace (b. 1864) died in infancy
  • Maggie Ireland Wallace (b. 1866) married Alfred Gray of London
  • Arthur Stanley Jowett Wallace (b. 1872) died in infancy
  • Alfred Campbell Wallace (1875-1911) actor



  • Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: the Succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, edited by Hew Scott, D.D., Volume I, The Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1915, pp. 43–44.
  • Who Was Who entry, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 [1]
  • Robert Wallace: Life and Last Leaves. Edited by J. Campbell Smith and William Wallace. London: Sands & Co., 1903. (William Wallace was the brother of Robert Wallace.)
  • Library catalogues at


  1. ^ Cf. 'Leading events in Mr. Wallace's life' in Robert Wallace: Life and Last Leaves, also his entry in the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, Volume One, pp. 43–44.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wallace's Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae entry.
  3. ^ Cf. The Church of Scotland and the clerical scandals in Old Greyfriars' Church, Edinburgh: Ought the Rev. Dr Robert Wallace to remain, or to be allowed by the General Assembly to remain, a minister of the Church of Scotland? Evidence for the prosecution. by "Free Lance" [Alexander Richardson]. (Edinburgh : Maclachlan & Stewart, 1871).
  4. ^ a b Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae; by Hew Scott
  5. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1873
  6. ^ Entry in Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, Volume One, pp. 43–44, and also his biography, Robert Wallace: Life and Last Leaves.
  7. ^ This appears in the site but nowhere else.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byGeorge Goschen Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East 18861899 Succeeded bySir George McCrae
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Robert Wallace (Edinburgh MP)
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