« EelmineJätka »
A RECORD OF EVENTS AND OPINIONS
MY RELATIVES AND ANCESTORS
Our family had but few relations, and I myself never saw a grandfather or grandmother, nor a true uncle, and but one aunt -my mother's only sister. The only cousins we ever had, so far as I know, were that sister's family of eight or nine, all but two of whom emigrated to South Australia in 1838. Of the two who remained in England, the daughter had married Mr. Burningham, and had only one child, a daughter, who has never married. The son, the Rev. Percy Wilson, had a family, none of whom, however, I have ever met, though I have recently had a visit from a son of another cousin, Algernon, with whom I had a considerable correspondence.
My father was practically an only son, an elder boy dying when three months old; and as his father died when he was a boy of twelve, and his mother when he was an infant, he had not much opportunity of hearing about the family history. I myself left home before I was fourteen, and only rarely visited my parents for short holidays, except once during my recovery from a dangerous illness, so that I also had little opportunity of learning anything of our ancestors on the paternal side, more especially as my father seldom spoke of his youth, and I as a boy felt no interest in his genealogy. Neither did my eldest brother William-with whom I lived
till I was of age-ever speak on the subject. The little I have gleaned was from my sister Fanny and from a recent examination of tombstones and parish registers, and especially from an old Prayer-book (1723) which belonged to my grandfather Wallace, who had registered in it the dates of the births and baptisms of his two sons, while my father had continued the register to include his own family of nine children, of whom I am the only survivor.
My paternal grandfather was married at Hanworth, Middlesex, in 1765, and the parish register describes him as William Wallace, of Hanworth, bachelor, and his wife as Elizabeth Dilke, of Laleham, widow. Both are buried in Laleham churchyard, where I presume the former Mrs. Dilke had some family burial rights, as my grandfather's brother, George Wallace, is also buried there. The register at Hanworth contains no record of my father's birth, but the church itself shows that quite a small colony of Wallaces lived at Hanworth. On a long stone in the floor of the chancel is the name of JAMES WALLACE, ESQ., who died February 7, 1778, aged 87 years. He was therefore thirty-five years older than my grandfather, and may have been his uncle. Then follows ADMIRAL SIR JAMES WALLACE, who died on March 6, 1803, aged 69 years; and FRANCES SLEIGH, daughter of the above JAMES WALLACE, Esq., who died December 12, 1820, aged 69 years.
Also, on a small stone in the floor of the nave, just outside the chancel, we find MARY WALLACE, who died December 5, 1812, aged 39 years. She may, therefore, not improbably have been a daughter, or perhaps niece, of the admiral.
Here, then, we have four Wallaces buried in the same church as that in which my grandfather was married, and of which place he was a resident at the time. As Hanworth is a very small place, the total population of the parish being only 750 in 1840, it is hardly probable that my grandfather and the others met there accidentally. I conclude, therefore, that James Wallace was probably an uncle or cousin, and that all were in some way related. As there is no record of my father's birth at Hanworth, it is probable that his parents had left the place and gone to live either at Laleham or in London.
How or why my grandfather came to live at Hanworth (probably with his brother George, who is also buried at Laleham), I can only conjecture from the following facts. Baron Vere of Hanworth is one of the titles of the Dukes of St. Albans since 1750, when Vere Beauclerc, third son of the first Duke, was created Baron, and his son became fifth Duke of St. Albans in 1787. It is to be presumed that the village and a good deal of the land was at that time the property of this family, though they appear to have parted with it not long afterwards, as a Mr. Perkins owned the park and rebuilt the church in 1812. The St. Albans family have a tomb in the church. Now, my father's name was Thomas Vere Wallace, and it therefore seems probable that his father was a tenant of the first Baron Vere, and in his will he is styled " Victualler.” He probably kept the inn on the estate.
The only further scrap of information as to my father's family is derived from a remark he once made in my hearing, that his uncles at Stirling (I think he said) were very tall men. I myself was six feet when I was sixteen, and my eldest brother William was an inch taller, while my brother John and sister Fanny were both rather tall. My father and mother, however, were under rather than over middle height, and the remark about his tall uncles was to account for this abnormal height by showing that it was in the family. As all the Wallaces of Scotland are held to be various branches of the one family of the hero Sir William Wallace, we have always considered ourselves to be descended from that famous stock; and this view is supported by the fact that our family crest was said to be an ostrich's head with a horseshoe in its mouth, and this crest belongs, according to Burke's “Peerage," to Craigie-Wallace, one of the branches of the patriot's family.
Of my mother's family I have somewhat fuller details, though not going any further back. Her father was John
Greenell, of Hertford, who died there in 1824 at the age of 79. He had two daughters, Martha, who married Thomas Wilson, Esq., a solicitor, and agent for the Portman estate, and Mary Anne, my mother. Their mother died when the two girls were two and three years old. Mr. Greenell married a second time, and his widow lived till 1828, so that my elder brothers and sisters may have known her, but she was only their step-grandmother. Mr. Greenell had died four years earlier. Although he lived to such a comparatively recent period, I have not been able to ascertain what was his business. His father, however, my mother's grandfather, who died in 1797, aged 80, was for many years an alderman, and twice Mayor of Hertford (in 1773 and 1779), as stated in the records of the borough. He was buried in St. Andrew's churchyard.
There is also in the same churchyard a family tomb, in which my father and my sister Eliza are buried, but which belonged to a brother of my mother's grandfather, William Greenell, as shown by the following inscription :
“Under this tomb with his beloved wife are deposited the remains of
In the County of Middlesex,
Where he acquired an ample fortune,
He died the 17th day of January, 1791, aged 71."
There is also an inscription to his wife Ann, who died a year earlier, and is described as the “wife and faithful friend of William Greenell, of Great Portland Street, Marylebone." As the tomb was not used for any other interment till my sister's death in 1832, it seems likely that William Greenell had no family, or that if he had they had all removed to other parts of England.
My mother's mother was a Miss Hudson, whose cousin I remember as owner of the Town-mill in Hertford, and his daughters were my sisters' playfellows and friends, but this family is now extinct so far as the town is concerned. A sister of my grandfather Greenell married Mr. John Roberts, whose son lived many years at Epsom, and this family is also extinct by the death of an only son in early manhood, and of an only daughter at an advanced age in 1890.
Through the kindness of Mr. J. B. Wohlmann, late headmaster of the Grammar School, I learn that in the parish registers of births, deaths, and marriages in Hertford, and also in Chauncey's “ History and Antiquities of Hertfordshire ” and in Clutterbuck's “History of Herts,” there are considerable numbers of Greenells (the name being variously spelt, as Grinell, Greenhill, etc.), going back continuously to 1579. I possess an old seal with a coat-of-arms which belonged to my grandfather, and was believed to be those of the Greenell family—a cross on a shield with seven balls on the cross, and a leopard's head for a crest. The balls indicate the name, “Grenaille” being French for shot; and the family were not improbably French refugees after the massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572.
My mother had several large oil-paintings of the Greenell ancestors which came to her from her sister, Mrs. Wilson, when the Wilsons went to South Australia. Being inconveniently large for our small houses and our frequent removals, they were given to the Miss Roberts above mentioned, who had a large house at Epsom, and on her death they passed with the house to some relatives of her mother, who had no kinship whatever with the Greenells. One of these portraits was that of the great-uncle William Greenell, of Marylebone, who was an architect, and is represented with the design of some public building which, we were told, he had had the honour of himself showing to the king, George the Second or Third. He is shown as a young man, and I was said to resemble him, not only in features, but in a slight peculiarity in one eyebrow, which was indicated on the portrait. I wished to obtain a photograph of this portrait a few years ago, but the present owner refused to allow it to be copied, having, I fancy, some exaggerated idea of its value as a work of art.