Situated at the very top of the main pathway in Greenock Cemetery (the Esplanade Walk), in a very eminent position, is this monument to Greenock's first Member of Parliament - Robert Wallace (1773-1855). He was the son of John Wallace (1712-1805) and his third wife Janet Colquhoun.
On his father's death in 1805, Robert Wallace inherited the Kelly Estate in Wemyss Bay along with the Glasgow Estate in Westmoreland, Jamaica and the Cessnock Estate in Hanover, Jamaica. He became a merchant in Glasgow and was a partner in the Greenock based firm of Wallace, Hunter & Co along with James Hunter, James Tasker and John Robertson. Wallace, Hunter & Co were merchants (importing sugar and rum) and shipowners with premises at 38 Shaw Street in Greenock. The company was dissolved in 1849.
Robert Wallace, a Whig, strongly supported electoral reform and became Greenock’s first Member of Parliament after the passing of the Reform Act. He is best known for his work with regard to postal reform and cheap rate of postage. His efforts led to the introduction of the Penny Post in 1840. In thanks for his endeavours, he was awarded the freedom of the City of Glasgow as well as Aberdeen, Paisley, Perth, Dingwall, Inverness and Dornoch.
Wallace ran into financial difficulties due to the loss in value of his Jamaican estates and had to sell the Kelly Estate. He resigned from Parliament in 1845.
He died in 1855 and was buried along with other members of his family in Greenock Cemetery. In 1857 money was raised and it was agreed that a monument to his memory should be erected over his grave. The family burial plot is situated at the very top of the main pathway in the cemetery (the Esplanade Walk) in a very eminent situation. The Gothic monument is 31 feet high and made from Aberdeen granite. It is surrounded by smaller headstones marking the graves of other family members.
Greenock's Wallace Monument was designed by David McIntosh who also designed the Gabriel Wood Mariners Home in Greenock. The sculptor was Alexander McDonald of the Granite Works, Aberdeen. It must have been a spectacular monument when it was first built. Unfortunately it is rather sad looking nowadays. There are several other gravestones around the monument marking the burial places of other family members.
Robert Wallace was highly esteemed not just locally, but throughout Britain. He left a bequest of several items to the Watt Institution.
This included his freedoms to the various cities and towns he had been awarded, two "curious" arm chairs, one the chair of a Spanish admiral who had sailed around the world. Another item was a picture of Sir William Wallace and a "curious" long chest with "strange looking" figures carved on it. The items were on show to the public locally before they disappeared into the vaults of the Museum. I wonder where these items are now?
Wallace of Kelly is one of the names around the top of the Lyle Fountain in Cathcart Square, Greenock.