John Wallace of Cessnock and Kelly

1712 - 4th Jan 1805


  1. Merchant of Glasgow, of Cessnock and Kelly in Ayrshire, "...a merchant in Glasgow, who amassed a large fortune trading in the West Indies and became proprietor of several important estates." Married, thirdly, Janet, "third daughter of Robert Colquhoun of the island of St Kitts." His son Robert Wallace is in the ODNB as "politician and postal reformer".

  2. Second son of Thomas Wallace of Cairnhill, in Kyle Stewart, near Kilmarnock, Scotland, and his wife Lilias, daughter of William Cunninghame of Craigends. Became his father's principal heir when the three sons of his elder brother William all died without issue. "This gentleman acquired the estate of Cessnock, which he subsequently sold, and purchased, in 1792, the lands of Kelly from the representative of the old family of Bannatyne, which had enjoyed it for ages. He ma. Janet, daughter of Robert Colquhoun, esq., and left two sons and three daughters..."

  3. John Wallace was listed in the Jamaican Quit Rent books for 1754 as the owner of 300 acres of land in Hanover and 1530 acres of land in Westmoreland, total 1830 acres.

  4. Bought Biscany estate in St Elizabeth, Jamaica, 02/08/1762 when it was described as "embracing 1750 acres, together with 62 male and 68 female slaves, and 86 steers, 47 mules, 4 horses, 6 cows, 11 coppers and 5 stills." Returned to Glasgow, became a partner in the Virginia [sic] merchant firm Somerville, Gordon, & Co. Bought Neilstonside, Renfrewshire and Cessnock, Ayrshire. Bought Whitehill (now included in Glasgow boundaries) in 1759. Sold Whitehill in 1782 and bought Kelly in Renfrewshire. Rebuilt the mansionhouse there, "he much adorned its environments". Died at Kelly, 04/01/1805 age 92.

  5. Married firstly, Anne, second daughter of John Murdoch, Provost of Glasgow. She died in 1754. Married secondly, in 1756, Jean, daughter of John Porterfield of Fullwood, 5 daughters, 2 of whom died young. Married thirdly, in 1764, Janet, third daughter of Robert Colquhoun of St Kitts, with 8 sons and 6 daughters.

  6. In his will, he left Cessnock and Glasgow estates to his eldest surviving son Robert, along with his Scottish estate Kelly. By the time of his will, he owned an undivided moity in Biscany estate which he left to his son James Maxwell.


  1. A. H. Millar, ‘Wallace, Robert (1773–1855)’, rev. H. C. G. Matthew, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 9 Sept 2015].

  2. John Burke, History of the Commoners... (London, 1836), vol. 3 p. 279.

  3. 'A List of landholders in the Island of Jamaica together with the number of acres each person possessed taken from the quit rent books in the year 1754', TNA CO 142/31 transcribed at

  4. Charles Rogers, The Book of Wallace ( Edinburgh, Printed for the Grampian club, 1839), Vol. I pp. 106-16.

  5. ibid.

  6. ibid., SC36/48/1.

Further Information

[1] Anne Murdoch [2] Jean Porterfield [3] Janet Colquhoun
[With 2] Lilias, Mary, Christian, 2 other daughters to died young. [With 3] 6 daughters, 8 sons, including Robert (1773-1855), James Maxwell (1783-1867)

SC36/48/1 Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories - precis.

John Wallace of Kelly in Renfrewshire. First, payment of just debts. My estates in Jamaica, real as well as personal, and all other estates shall be charged with the payment of my debts.

To Lillias Wallace, my eldest daughter, wife of William Hozier of Newlands Esquire, to my second daughter Mary Wallace, widow of Captain Archibald Cunningham, £1,000 sterling together with the £2,000 formerly advanced to Lillias, making in whole the sum of £3,000 sterling provided to them each by my contract of marriage with Mrs Jean Porterfield, their mother.

To each of my daughters of my last marriage Anne, Janet, John [Joanna] and Anne Colquhoun Wallace, £2,500 each at age 21.

On 02/06/1794, I granted to Robert Wallace and James Maxwell Wallace, my eldest and second sons, and the now deceased William Wallace my son, and to the surviver of them, in trust for behalf of Frances Wallace, now Mrs Murdoch, my eldest daughter by my last marriage, a hond of £2,000 sterling securred upon my lands of Kelly and Finnochbog, so I further bequest to them in trust for Frances Wallace, another £500, and also six shares in the stock of the Company of the Proprietors of the Forth and Clyde Navigation if the same at my death shall not be otherwise disposed of.

Upon the marriage of Christian Wallace, my daughter of my last marriage, with Thomas King Esquire, Advocate, I advanced to her and her said husband £2,000 sterling. So I thereby bequeath to her the further sum of £500.

Also to Anne Wallace, Christian Wallace (Mrs King), Janet Wallace, John [Joanna] Wallace and Anne Colquhoun Wallace, six shares each, and to Robert Wallace and James Colquhoun Wallace, my sons, 5 shares each, of the stock of the Forth and Clyde Navigation Company.

The shares of each daughter to be divided among the others should any of them die.

To Lillias Wallace and William Hozier in trust for the benefit of John Wallace Hozier, five shares of the stock of the Forth and Clyde Navigation Company at age 21.

To Robert Wallace and James Maxwell Wallace equally, my two-forteenth parts of the stock of the Glasgow partnership of Stirling, Gordon and Company.

My son Robert Wallace shall enjoy and succeed to my plantations Glasgow and Cessnock in Westmoreland and Hannover in Jamaica.

My son James Maxwell Wallace at age 21 shall enjoy and succeed to my undivided moity of my plantation in St Elizabeth, Jamaica [Biscany].

Signed at Glasgow 18/01/1800.

Codicil dated 01/05/1803. To my son Robert Wallace one half of my plate both in town and country, and the whole household furniture including linen and liquor at Kelly. To James Maxwell Wallace and my daughters Anne, Janet, John and Anne Colquhoun equally the other half of my plate, furniture, linen and liquors including at my office at Madeira Court. My youngest son and each of my unmarried daughters shall be allowed to possess that house and office for ten years after my death, free of rent. To each of my married daughters £200. The interest from the shares in Sterling, Gordon & Company to pay the £1,000 for Lillias Wallace and £3,000 for Mary Wallace previously bequeathed to them, and with the £200 for my other daughters. Robert Wallace is my residuary legatee.


Balance of account current and cash with Stirling Gordon & Co. £3,009

Bills £5,190

Bonds £6500

Bank £1541

15 shares canal stock £3130

Plate, liquor, horses £1500

Sugar on hand £1365

Rum on hand £300

Total £22,449

Debts amounting to £4,000

Balance £18,449

Wealth at death
£18,449 9S 8D

Associated Estates (3)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
02/08/1762 [SD] - 04/01/1805 [ED] → Joint owner
1781 [EA] - 04/01/1805 [ED] → Owner
1785 [EA] - 04/01/1805 [ED] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Stirling, Gordon & Co.
West India merchant  

Physical (1)

Country house
Kelly House [Built] 
description →
Late 18thC house built by John Wallace c.1793 on an estate he had recently purchased. Modified and expanded by his son Robert Wallace. Demolished c. early...

Relationships (4)

Father → Son
Father → Son
Uncle → Nephew

Addresses (2)

Kelly, Ayrshire, Southern Scotland, Scotland
Madeira Court, Argyle Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Central Scotland, Scotland