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Family notes - John Alexander McKane Wallace

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This page has biographical information about John Alexander McKane Wallace (1819-1895), his wife Esther Maise (1818-1893) and their children.

If you can provide additional information or photographs, or want a copy of information I have, please get in Contact.

Doreen Corrick researched the genealogy of the Wallace family and produced a manuscript The Wallace Family History. Some family details have been published in Spurdle Heritage and on the web site of Jewel and Ian Fyfe.

These sources give details of John and his two brothers who went to New Zealand with the British Army in 1846 and subsequently settled there. Other family members have provided me with additional information.


View descendants of John Alexander McKain Wallace. Individuals born since 1930 are listed as "Living" for privacy.

John WALLACE and family

Photo of John and Esther Wallace

John and Esther Wallace

Photo from Kim Wallace, from Ann Cardno's collection

John Alexander McKane WALLACE (1819-1895)

John Alexander McKane Wallace was born in 1819 in Antrim, Ireland, the second son of William Wallace and Catherine McKane. He married Esther Maise in 1840 in Antrim before he enlisted in the 48th Regiment on 21 December 1840. On 1 February 1842 he transferred to the 65th regiment at Dublin and in 1845 was ordered to Foreign Service. On 24 February 1846 John and his brother Arthur sailed as guards on the "Palmyra", a convict ship bound for Van Diemens Land (Tasmania). After the convicts had disembarked the "Palmyra" sailed on to Sydney and members of the 65th regiment assembled for transport to New Zealand on the "Java". The "Java" arrived in the Bay of Islands on 19 November 1846 and Auckland on 27 November 1946 where John disembarked. The regiment was sent to New Zealand because of outbreaks of fighting in the Bay of Islands and in the Hutt Valley.

John served at Wellington until 1848 when he was transferred to Wanganui. Soon after his transfer he sought and was granted discharge in May 1849. John received a land grant and took up farming on No. 2 Line at Matarawa, east of Wanganui. Later he bought the adjoining farms as well, which had belonged to the Gilfillan family. John and Esther named their farm "Firgrove" after a district in Antrim, and lived there for 40 years. In 1892 John sold the farm to Nils Manson, his son-in-law, and after some years of subletting, share milking etc., in 1938, after 43 years, Firgrove finally passed from the Wallace family.

In later life John and Esther lived at Ridgeway Street, Wanganui. John died on 29 December 1895 and was buried with Esther in the Old Public Cemetery, Wanganui.

The following obituary was published in the Wanganui Herald. The name of the ship that took convicts to Hobart differs in the obituary from details above taken from "Discharged in New Zealand" by Hugh & Lyn Hughes 1988. John Ballance was elected to Parliament in 1875 and was Premier of New Zealand from January 1891 to April 1893.

Wanganui Herald Masthead30 December 1895, Page 3

Mr John Alexander McKane Wallace.

One by one the old settlers who have borne the heat and burden of pioneering life in the colony, are being called to their last resting place. There was probably no more familiar figure in Wanganui than Mr John M. Wallace, who passed away very peacefully yesterday morning. The deceased was born in Belfast, and came out to the colony half a century ago in an old East Indiaman, the Peranjeo Bomanjoe (Captain Austa), as one of the guard of the second convict draft, he then being in the 65th Regiment. Having taken the shipment of convicts to Hobart, Mr Wallace came on to New Zealand, landing in Auckland where he was in the D Company under Captain Snow, Charles Robinson, another well-known local identity, being then in the same regiment. At the time of the Gilfillan tragedy on the No. 2 Line a despatch was sent to Auckland to Governor Grey from Wanganui, and 60 men and three officers of his Regiment were despatched here, Mr Wallace having to remain behind as he was standing orderly to Brigade-Major O'Connell, of the 99th Regiment. Shortly after the tragedy, however, Mr Wallace came to Wanganui, where he bought his discharge for £20 and settled down with Mrs Wallace on the same section where he passed away yesterday. For a few years he worked as a sawyer, and about 40 years ago he bought 50 acres of land on the No. 3 Line, afterwards purchasing 100 acres adjoining from Messrs Taylor and Watt, and later on he acquired another 100 acres, the latter the scene of the dreadful tragedy that was always remembered with horror by the early settlers. About three years ago Mr and Mrs Wallace came to town to live, but shortly afterwards he had the misfortune to lose his wife. Three months ago Mr Wallace met with an accident by falling downstairs, which confined him to his bed, and he has been declining since then, till yesterday morning, as before stated, he passed peacefully away, being conscious right up to the last.

Though not taking an active part in public life, Mr Wallace was intimately associated with the late Hon. John Ballance, both gentlemen having come from the same town, and was a firm supporter of Mr Ballance right up to the time of his death. He was always known as a hard working industrious settler, and very highly respected by all who knew him, and what little property he acquired was got by honest toil. The deceased leaves a grown family of eight children — all of whom are alive - James Wallace (Eltham), Mrs C. Revell (Taranaki), W. Wallace (Hawera), Joseph Wallace (Wanganui), Mrs A. P. Manson (Bushy Park), John Wallace (Turakina), Mrs J. Hosking (Okoia), and Thomas Wallace (Wanganui). There are also over 80 grand-children left to mourn his loss. Tho funeral of the deceased will leave his late residence, Ridgway Street, next Wellington House, to-morrow afternoon at 3.30 o'clock.

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See photo above

Esther MAISE (1818-1893)

Esther Maise (or Mayes) was born in 1818, probably at Antrim in Ireland, the daughter of George Maze and Agnes Miller. Esther married John Wallace in 1840 at Antrim. Esther traveled to New Zealand on the ship "Sir Robert Peel" with members of the 65th regiment and their families, departing on 15 September 1846 and arriving at Auckland on 14 January 1847. Esther was pregnant and she had her first child, James, during the voyage. John and Esther settled in the Wanganui district and had seven children. Esther died on 9 November 1893 and was buried in the Old Public Cemetery, Wanganui.

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Children of John and Esther

James and Caroline James and Caroline in early 1930's.

James WALLACE (1846-1936)

James Wallace was born in 1846, the son of Esther Maise and John Wallace, during the voyage of his mother to New Zealand on the "Sir Robert Peel". James spent his early life in the Wanganui district and married Caroline Chitham in 1868. Caroline was born in Auckland, the daughter of English immigrants William Chitham and Sarah Smith.

James and Caroline lived in Wanganui until about 1880, where their first six children were born. The family then moved to Hawera where the remainder of their children were born. James and Caroline lived the remainder of their working life farming in Taranaki according to Electoral Rolls: 1896 Eltham, 1900 Hurford, 1905-1919 Frankley Road, Hurworth. By 1928 James and Caroline had retired to New Plymouth, and subsequently they moved to Hamilton where Caroline died in 1935 and James in 1936. Both were buried in Hamilton East Cemetery.

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Esther May WALLACE (1849-1939)

Esther May Wallace was born in 1849 in Wanganui, the eldest daughter of John Wallace and Esther Maise. She lived at Firgrove on No. 2 Line and went to Matarawa School. In 1862 (aged 13) she married Charles Revell (aged 25), a shoemaker, at Firgrove, Matarawa. Charles was descended from a titled family, 'the Revelstokes' which is applied to the town and ancestral home of the Revell family in Devonshire. Samuel Revell, a son of the then Lord Revell, came to New Plymouth with his wife, four sons and a daughter on the 'William Bryan' in 1841.

Charles and Esther had thirteen children. Their first child was born in Wanganui, but they spent most of their married life in New Plymouth. Charles died in 1920 and Esther in 1939. They were buried in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth.

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Mary Jane WALLACE (1850-1912)

Mary Jane Wallace was born in 1851 in Wanganui, second daughter to John Wallace. and Esther Maise. She grew up at Firgrove and went to Matarawa School. She was reputed to be in love with her cousin Richard Wallace, second son of her uncle Arthur Wallace. Richard, who was enlisted in the 'Wellington Rangers', was killed in action against Maoris at Te Ngutu-o-Te-Maru near Hawera in 1868. Mary and Richard were both only 17 when Richard was killed.

In 1870 Mary married Richard's older brother William Wallace, at Firgrove, Matarawa. William had been in the Armed Constabulary and as a member of the Colonial Forces was involved in fighting in the Taranaki area, Wanganui, and Te Ngutu-o-Te-Maru where Richard was killed. Later William took part in engagements at Otautu, Moturoa, Taurangaika, Fraser Road, Whakamaru, Opotiki and Te Porere. Reports of these engagements can be found at The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period.

William received a land grant of 80 acres at Mokoia in Taranaki (the regulation amount for a sergeant) but the land was abandoned to the Maoris for a time. After their marriage Mary and William lived on the Mokoia farm which had been returned from the Maoris in 1868. Then they moved to Hawera where William worked on road and railway construction. In 1890 the Mokoia property was sold, and William then brought a farm inland from Hawera at Meremere on the "Lease Lend West Coast Scheme". At first the family lived in a small cottage but in 1910 moved to a larger home built on the property.

Mary and William had eleven children. Mary died in 1912 and was buried in Hawera. William remarried in 1918, to Rosamund Woodford. William died in 1925 and was buried in Hawera.

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Joseph WALLACE (1853-1948)

Joseph was born on 9 May 1853, the second son of John Wallace and Esther Maise. As a child he lived at Firgrove, No. 2 Line, Wanganui, with his parents. He went to Matarawa School. In 1873 Joseph married Sarah Spurdle at Springvale, Wanganui. Sarah, born 1854 in New Plymouth, was the daughter of Oliver Cook Spurdle and Maria Litherland, immigrants from England.

Joseph and Sarah had a large family of sixteen children, three died in infancy. Morris died at 2 months, Maria at 7 weeks and Emily aged 3 months. Leonard was accidentally drowned in the Wanganui River aged 15 and Agnes died aged 19. Joseph farmed in Wanganui and became well known in the district. Many of the large family of children attended Matarawa School. Sarah died in 1921 and Joseph in 1948, both in Wanganui. Joseph and Sarah were buried in Aramoho Cemetery, Wanganui.

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Picture of Agnes

Photo from Kim Wallace

Agnes WALLACE (1855-1930)

Agnes Wallace was born in 1855, the daughter of John Wallace and Esther Maise. She lived at Firgrove and went to Matarawa School, and probably stayed at home to help until she was married. Agnes married Nils Peter Manson at Firgrove in 1882. Nils Manson migrated from Sweden to New Zealand in 1876.

Agnes and Nils had four daughters and one son. It is thought that they lived and brought up their family at Firgrove, or close by, where Nils Manson helped on the farm. In 1892 before their last child was born, Nils bought the Firgrove property from John Alexander McKane Wallace.

In 1893 Nils and his family moved to Kai Iwi where they took up land. In the ensuing years they rented out Firgrove, or put in share milkers. In 1938 Firgrove was sold and after nearly 80 years the farm passed out of the Wallace family.

Nils died in 1927 and Agnes died in 1930. They are both buried in Heads Road Cemetery, Wanganui.

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Picture of William Wallace

Photo from Kim Wallace

William John WALLACE (1858-1930)

William John Wallace was born on 28 September 1858, third son of John Wallace and Esther Maise. He lived at Firgrove and went to Matarawa School. He went farming at Upokongaro inland from Wanganui where he met, and in 1892 married Edith Ida Burns. Edith and William had a daughter in 1894 but Edith died soon after in 1895 aged 23, and the daughter died in 1897. Edith and her daughter were buried in Wanganui.

William was recorded in the Electoral Rolls as a Station Manager at Turakina from 1896-1914. In December 1898 William John married again, Rosina Martha Peachey aged 17. William and Martha had ten children. William and Martha retired to Wanganui. In 1920 their last son was born in Wanganui. William died in 1930 and Rosina in 1945.

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Catherine Kerby WALLACE (1863-1946)

Catherine Kerby Wallace was born in 1863, the fourth daughter of John Wallace and Esther Maise. Catherine married John William Hoskin in Wanganui in 1880. John was born in Weymouth, Dorset and had migrated to New Zealand in 1863. Catherine and John lived in Wanganui and had seven daughters and three sons. John died in 1926 and Catherine died in 1946. They were buried in Aramoho Cemetery, Wanganui.

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Thomas WALLACE (1868-1950)

Thomas Wallace was adopted by John Wallace and Esther Maise. Thomas married Elizabeth Whitcombe, the second daughter of William Whitcombe, in Wanganui in 1891. The couple had four sons, the eldest two marrying sisters in London following WW1.

Based on electoral rolls and marriage registrations, Thomas was a carpenter in Wellington (1906), a public works inspector in Auckland (1914-1920). It appears that Thomas spent the end of his life in hospital, a patient of Auckland Infirmary in Epson (1928-1938) and Cornwall Hospital (1946-1949). He died in 1950 and was buried in Waitakere Cemetery.

The Auckland Infirmary in Epson housed chronically ill patients. In 1942 the Infirmary became a general hospital and was named Green Lane Hospital. Cornwall Hospital (1942-1975) was constructed by the US during WW2 for casualties from the Pacific campaign, being initially called the US Army 39th General Hospital. The Hospital was taken over by the NZ Government and renamed Cornwall Hospital. It was the site of the Cornwall Geriatric Hospital, which is presumably where Thomas Wallace was a patient from 1942.

Elizabeth was living in Auckland with her eldest son John Alexander McKane Wallace in 1919. She died in 1942 and her ashes were scattered in Waitakere Cemetery.

Thomas's son and grandson were both named John Alexander McKane Wallace after Thomas's adopted father. The McKane name has been used in the next generation too.

Note - many of the above details for Thomas have yet to be confirmed by descendants.

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