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Wallace, Robert (1791-1850) (DNB00)

WALLACE, ROBERT (1791–1850), Unitarian divine, son of Robert Wallace (d. 17 June 1830) by his wife Phoebe (d. 11 March 1837), was born at Dudley, Worcestershire, on 26 Feb. 1791, and baptised on 19 March by the name of Robert, to which in early life he sometimes added William. His father was a pawnbroker; his grandfather was a Dumfriesshire farmer. Two younger brothers joined the Unitarian ministry, viz.: James Cowden Wallace (1793?-1841), unitarian minister at Totnes (1824-6), York Street, London (1827-8), Brighton (1828-9), Preston (1829-31), Wareham (1831-41), who wrote numerous hymns, sixty-four of which are in J. R. Beard's 'Collection of Hymns,' 1837, 12mo; and Charles Wallace (1796-1859), who was educated at Glasgow (M.A. 1817) and Manchester College, York (1817-19), and was minister at Altrincham and Hale, Cheshire (1829-56).

Robert Wallace's schoolmaster (till 1807) was John Todd, curate of St. Kenelm, Shropshire. In 1808 he came under the influence of James Hews Bransby [q. v.], who prepared him for entrance (September 1810) at Manchester College, then at York, under Charles Wellbeloved [q. v.] and John Kenrick [q. v.] Among his fellow students was Jacob Brettell [q. v.] Leaving York in 1815, he became (September) minister at Elder Yard, Chesterfield. While here he conducted a private school for sixteen years. He distinguished himself in his denomination as a theological exponent, and as one of the best writers in the 'Monthly Repository ' and the 'Christian Reformer' on biblical and patristic topics. His review (1834) of Newman's 'Arians of the Fourth Century' brought him into friendly correspondence with Thomas Turton [q. v.] His essay (1835) 'On the Parenthetical and Digressive Style of John's Gospel' is a very able piece of criticism. In 1840 Manchester College was removed from York to Manchester, and Wallace was appointed to succeed Wellbeloved. He left Chesterfield on 11 Aug., and delivered in October his inaugural lecture as professor of critical and exegetical theology. In 1842 he was made principal of the theological department. His theological position was conservative, but he was the first in his own denomination to bring to his classroom the processes and results of German critical research. By his pupils he was 'not only respected but loved;' among them was Philip Pearsall Carpenter [q. v.]

The change to Manchester did not suit his health; after six years he resigned, and in June 1846 became minister of Trim Street Chapel, Bath. He was made visitor of his college, became a fellow of the Geological Society, and worked hard at the completion of his antitrinitarian biography (published March 1850). He preached for the last time on 10 March, and died at Bath on 13 May 1850. He was buried in the graveyard at Lyncomb, near Bath. His portrait was painted but has not been engraved; a silhouette likeness of him is at the Memorial Hall, Manchester. He married (1825) Sophia (d. 31 May 1835), daughter of Michael Lakin of Birmingham, by whom he had a daughter, who survived him.

His 'Antitrinitarian Biography,' 1850, 3 vols. 8vo, was the result of nearly twenty- four years' labour. A few of the earlier biographies were published (anonymously) in the 'Monthly Repository,' 1831; part of the introduction in the 'Christian Reformer,' 1845-6. In breadth of treatment and in depth of original research Wallace's workmanship is inferior to that of Thomas Rees (1777-1864) [q. v.], but he covers more ground than any previous writer, giving lives and biographies, continental and English, extending from the Reformation to the opening of the eighteenth century. His introduction deals mainly with the development of opinion in England during that period. His careful array of authorities is especially useful. Among his other publications were, besides sermons: 1. 'An Account.of the Revolution House at Whittington,' Chesterfield, 1818, 8vo. 2. 'A Plain Statement ... of Unitarianism ... and ... Review of the ... Improved Version,' Chesterfield, 1819, 8vo. 3. 'Dissertation on the Verb,' Chesterfield, 1832, 8vo. 4. 'On the Ictis of Diodorus Siculus,' Manchester, 1845, 8vo. He edited a 'Selection of Hymns for Unitarian Worship,' Chesterfield, 1822, 8vo; 2nd ed. 1826, 8vo.

[Memoir (by Charles Wallace), with list of publications, in Christian Reformer, 1850, p. 549; Monthly Repository, 1827, p. 139; Christian Reformer, 1835 p. 510, 1841 p. 262, 1850 p. 388, 1859 p. 681; March's Hist. Preb. and Gen. Bapt. Churches in West of England, 1835, p. 285; Manchester New College, Introductory Lectures, 1841; Roll of Students, Manchester New College, 1868; Nightingale's Lancashire Nonconformity [1891], i. 18; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, 1892, pp. 1162, 1197, 1231; tombstone at Inhedge Burying-ground, Dudley; information from the Rev. John Wright, Sutton Coldfield, and the Rev. A. H. Shelley, Dudley.]

A. G.