Sir Richard Wallace, 1st Baronet

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Sir Richard Wallace
Richard Wallace caricatured as a Parisian Wallace fountain, by Georges Lafosse published in Le Trombinoscope

Sir Richard Wallace, 1st Baronet (21 June 1818 – 20 July 1890), was an English art collector.


He was the illegitimate son of The 4th Marquess of Hertford, by whose family he was educated in Paris and for whom he worked as private secretary. In 1870 he inherited his father's unentailed estates and extensive collection of European art.[1] On 15 February 1871 he was married to Julie Amélie Charlotte, the daughter of Bernard Castelnau, a French officer. Wallace expanded his father's collection himself; his widow donated the Wallace Collection to the nation in 1897. It is now located in what was his London home, Hertford House in Manchester Square, Marylebone.

His bequests to the people of Lisburn in what is now Northern Ireland include the Wallace Park and The Wallace High School. His town house on Lisburn's Castle Street is now used as offices by the South Eastern Regional College. His country house at Sudbourne Hall, near Orford, Suffolk (with 50 rooms, owned 1904-1916 by the millionaire parents of Lord Clark), was demolished in 1951.[2]

Despite his father's penurious reputation, Wallace achieved fame during the Siege of Paris for notable acts of charity.

"At his own expense, Wallace organized two full scale ambulances[3] to operate during the siege; one to serve French wounded, and the second for the benefit of sick and destitute Britons."[4]

By the end of the siege, Wallace is estimated to have privately contributed as much as 2.5 million (1870) francs to the needy of Paris. This is perhaps equivalent to $6.5 million in 2010 money. As a result, Wallace was thought to be the most popular British citizen inhabiting Paris during the siege. The last balloon to leave Paris before its capitulation was named for him, as was a Paris boulevard. After the destruction of the Protestant Temple in Neuilly-sur-Seine, he financed its reconstruction in 1872. He was appointed to the Legion d'Honneur for his efforts.[5]

Wallace was created baronet in 1871 and was a Conservative and Unionist Member of Parliament for Lisburn from 1873 to 1885. In 1872 he donated 50 drinking fountains, known as Wallace fountains, to Paris and to Lisburn. Some can still be seen today. Thaxton Village, Lisburn, has a network of streets named after Sir Richard and Lady Wallace.

He was Honorary President of Ipswich Museum from 1874 until his death. In 1883 he won a silver medal at the Smithfield Show as breeder of the best "Single Pig" in class LXXXVI; he lived at Wickham Market in Suffolk at the time.

Upon his death in 1890, he was interred in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


A number of letters written to Wallace by members of the British Royal Family are held at the Cadbury Research Library (University of Birmingham), along with letters written to his fellow Baronet, Sir John Murray Scott.[6]


  1. ^ Jones, Jonathan (19 June 2018). "Sir Richard Wallace: The Collector review – glories from the age of global plunder". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  2. ^ The house and its 11,000-acre estate are described in Kenneth Clark, a Biography by Meryle Secrest (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984) chap. 3,
  3. ^ The term ambulance in 1870 meant both a field hospital as well as the means to pick up the wounded. The latter has become the exclusive meaning of 'ambulance'.
  4. ^ Horne, Alastair (1965) The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71, pgs 167-168. Penguin Books, London. ISBN 978-0-14-103063-0
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ "UoB Calmview5: Search results". Retrieved 1 March 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mallett, Donald (1979). The Greatest Collector: Lord Hertford and the Founding of the Wallace Collection. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-24467-8.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Lisburn
constituency abolished
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Hertford House)