James Wallace 1826-1899


Tracing James Wallace has been a mystery for me and other researchers for some time.  Sue Penrose put me onto some information that I believe solves the question.

A query was posted by lynbee on Rootschat.com – James Wallace-I have lost this line of the family!  She posted what was known about James Wallace: his birth in Ireland in 1826, his enlistment in the 65th Regiment, guarding convicts on a voyage to Tasmania, posting to New Zealand, and discharge from the army in Wanganui in 1849.  Lyn’s question – did anyone know what happened to James?

Descendants of James Wallace and Maria Brophy from Tasmania replied to the query because they thought they might be related. Their James was also from Ireland, had been to Australia before being posted to New Zealand “and fought in the war there which we believe was in Wanganui. In the 1850’s he moved to Tasmania and married.”  However marriage and death registration did not have details of James’s parents.

The Rootschat.com exchange does not provide a definitive and documented link between the James Wallace in my tree and the James Wallace who died in Tasmania.  There is considerable overlap of the facts though.

Discharged in New Zealand, by Hugh and Lyn Hughes, lists soldiers of the Imperial Foot Regiments who took their discharge in New Zealand between 1840 and 1870.  A search of the book shows that there was only one James Wallace discharged in New Zealand. This was the brother of Arthur Wallace and John Alexander McKane Wallace who were also discharged in Wanganui.

The headstone for James Wallace in Westbury Cemetery gives his age at death as 72 years (see image below). This matches with his birth in 1826.

Headstone of James Wallace, his wife Maria and son; Westbury, Tasmania
Headstone of James Wallace, his wife Maria and son; Westbury, Tasmania. Photo from Darryl Booth.

I believe that the story passed down to the children of James and Maria from Tasmania matches sufficiently with what was known from army records and New Zealand to conclude that this James Wallace is the the brother of Arthur Wallace and John Alexander McKane Wallace.  I will be updating my tree accordingly.

Please let me know if this is an error and you have an alternative James Wallace who fits better.

NOTEDischarged in New Zealand, by Hugh and Lyn Hughes, was published by the NZ Society of Genealogists in 1988.  A pdf version is now available on CD from the Society’s website.

UPDATE (6 June) – I have now updated the tree on Rootsweb with descendants of James Wallace I have found to date.

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Tree Update


Every 2-4 months I update my family tree on Rootsweb.  Today  the new GEDCOM uploaded to RootsWeb had 14,525 people and 4,762 families. This is a small increase on the upload a couple of months ago, but also includes the research I have done since the last upload.  Recent research has involved checking NZ electoral rolls, finding cemetery details, checking NZ BDM details, plus addition of some details provided by other family researchers.

Often I find details of people who I think others will be interested in, but the information  does not fit into the design of my website – Chris Korte’s New Zealand Genealogy Project. I now add these details to Rootsweb page for the person concerned.  Two added in the update today were:

Thomas Morton WALLACE


Thomas Morton WALLACE is mentioned in The Wallace Family History by Doreen Corrick (1988). Doreen noted “Where Thomas fits into the picture or family I do not know,
except that Thomas Morton married Elizabeth Whitcombe in 1891.”

The marriage notice in the Wanganui Herald, Volume XXV, Issue 7471, 22 July 1891, Page 2. said that Thomas was adopted. The notice read “WALLACE-WHITCOMBE – On 24th June, Thomas, adopted son of John Wallace, No 2. Line, to Elizabeth, second daughter of William Whitcombe.”

I have found it difficult to trace anything further on the couple until recently because Thomas and Elizabeth Wallace are relatively frequent names in New Zealand.  My breakthrough came when I looked for children in the New Zealand Birth, Death and Marriage Historical Records. Four children were discovered:

School records and WWI enlistment records for these children enabled me to place geographically Thomas and Elizabeth at different times during their lives. It appears that the couple moved from Wanganui to Wellington where Thomas worked as a carpenter.  Subsequently the family moved to Auckland where Thomas was a Public Works Inspector according to the marriage registrations of the two eldest sons in London in 1919 and 1920.

It appears that Thomas went into hospital around 1920 for the rest of his life based on electoral rolls.

All electoral rolls, marriage and death registrations use the name Thomas Wallace, not Thomas Morton Wallace.  Perhaps Thomas was born Thomas Morton?

I would be grateful if any descendants can provide more information on Thomas or his descendants. His son Cyril is a mystery following marriage in 1920. I suspect he did not return to New Zealand with his English bride?

John Alexander McKane WALLACE


There have been four people called John Alexander McKane WALLACE who have lived in New Zealand and are in my family tree.

The first was John Alexander McKane Wallace born in 1819 in Antrim. He settled in Wanganui, New Zealand after serving in the 65th (2nd Yorkshire North Riding) Regiment of Foot. The Regiment, during August 1845 to May 1846, provided convict guards on six ships from England to Hobart Town in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and two to Norfolk Island, delivering the convicts before continuing to Sydney. When disturbances broke out in New Zealand, most of these men were shipped to New Zealand, including John Wallace.

John Alexander McKain and Esther Wallace

There are three other John Alexander McKane Wallaces in my family tree are descendants of John and Esther Wallace:

I only recently discovered the last two when researching Thomas Wallace, John’s adopted son.

Gordon Alexander WALLACE – Wrong wife


I have had the wife of Gordon Alexander WALLACE (1923-2003) incorrectly listed as Laurie SMITH.  The error was recently noticed by his daughter-in-law (Glenda Wallace) who provided me with corrections, and a copy of the marriage registration.

Gordon Alexander WALLACE married Betty Eileen DOIDGE on 20 January 1947 in Matamata. Betty Eileen DOIDGE was born 16 Aug 1924  in  Tauranga and died 27 Jun 2002 in Hamilton.  Gordon’s five children also had the incorrect mother on my tree.

Next time I refresh my tree on RootsWeb WorldConnect Project the error will be corrected there.  This error is also on some other Wallace trees available on web sites.

Thanks Glenda for pointing out the error.

Catherine WALLACE – Resolving Two


I have just managed to sort out details of two Catherine WALLACEs: one born about 1879 in New Zealand; the second born 1881 in New Zealand.

The first Catherine Wallace: Based on NZ BDM records, and school records, Catherine WALLACE born 15 Jan 1881, was the daughter of John Henry WALLACE and Ellen PAWSON.  Catherine was born in the South Island. I had her married to Moses CORKIN in 1900, based on NZ marriage records.

The second Catherine Wallace: The second  Catherine WALLACE appeared when I received copies of the marriage registration of Catherine WALLACE and Moses CORKIN, and death registration of Catherine CORKIN. Both documents had Catherine WALLACE as the daughter of James WALLACE and Catherine CHITHAM (also in my Wallace family tree). Two children of James WALLACE and Catherine CHITHAM appeared to be witnesses to the wedding.  Arthur WALLACE and Sarah WALLACE gave their address as Hereford Road (I presume near Tauranga – the only Hereford Road Google Maps finds for NZ). Both names appeared in my tree as children of James WALLACE and Catherine CHITHAM.

My conclusion was that the two Catherines were different people (second cousins), with the one who married Moses CORKIN being the daughter of James WALLACE and Catherine CHITHAM.

However, that was not the end?  A search of NZ BDM records does not turn up a birth of Catherine WALLACE, daughter of James WALLACE and Catherine CHITHAM.   Some of their children in my tree are in the records, but some appear to be missing.  Catherine’s birth year was somewhere about 1879 – Marriage at 22 years  in 1900 – birth about 1878; Death at  58 years in 1938 – birth about 1880.

Finding the first Catherine – I looked at the deaths of Catherine WALLACE from 1881-1991 (this assumes no marriage, and daughter of John Henry WALLACE and Ellen PAWSON stayed in NZ) – There were 18 matches, and when age is taken into account the following is closest – Catherine d 1966 in Dunedin aged 83, b about 1883. However, she was a widow according to the burial records and is buried with William Thomas G WALLACE, so not the right person.

My next option was to look for death of a Catherine WALLACE who had married between 1898 and 1940 – there were 7 between 1900 and 1920 (but more with two first names that I did not investigate).  The closest match was Charles William ALVE, who married Catherine WALLACE in 1911. They both died in Palmerston North, Catherine in 1967 aged 86 – she was born about 1881 according to this record.

I then back to family notes I had received previously, and found the following in my notes about John Henry WALLACE:  In 1887 John Henry and Ellen moved to Eketahuna where John worked part-time as a Blacksmith, part-time as a Sawmill Engineer. Later in life they retired to Rangiotu Line, Palmerston North, where their daughter Catherine Alve lived. This information was not in my family tree.

The first Catherine WALLACE was born 18 Jan 1881 at Duvauchelle on Akaroa Harbor, Canterbury, the daughter of John Henry WALLACE and Ellen PAWSON. Catherine married Charles William ALVE in 1911, and was known as Dolly. She died a widow 02 Feb 1967 in Foxton. She was buried with her husband in Palmerston North.

Photo of ALVE headstone.
ALVE headstone in Terrace End Cemetery, Palmerston North.

Finding the second Catherine – My next task was to find out how Catherine WALLACE fitted into the family of James WALLACE and Catherine CHITHAM. According to my tree, the family had fourteen children born between 1869 and 1892. A Catherine WALLACE was born in Wanganui in 1870, but died in 1871. A birth date in 1879 did not appear to fit very well with surrounding birth dates.

I returned to family trees I had collected to see if I had missed anything. A family tree for James WALLACE and Catherine CHITHAM, that gave the desendants of Catherine’s brother William WALLACE (b 1873),  had the following useful information. Other children of James and Caroline: Charlotte, married Charles Corkin.

Caroline WALLACE was in my tree, born 1883 in Wanganui, NZ. Moses CORKIN was known as Charles as well as Moses.

My conclusion was the second Catherine WALLACE was born Caroline WALLACE in 1883 in Wanganui, but she used the name Catherine during her married life.  She married Moses Charles CORKIN in 1900 in New Plymouth. Both Catherine and Charles died in New Plymouth and were buried in Stratford.

If Caroline’s birth was registered (or Catherine), I have yet to find a record. Can you help?

MyHeritage.com – Wallace Web Site


When I started my family tree, I wondered how I would progress with the Wallace family. Wallace is such a common name in New Zealand, in contrast to Korte.

However I made quite good progress because my father-in-law had a copy of the Spurdle family tree, published in 1942, and that had descendants of Joseph WALLACE (1853-1948) and Sarah SPURDLE (1854-1921). An update of the Spurdle family tree (Spurdle Heritage, Janette Howe and Robyn Spurdle, 1992) included information from a  manuscript The Wallace Family History by Doreen Corrick. I eventually tracked this manuscript down and made all the information I had collected available on RootsWeb.

One person who remained a mystery until recently was Bruce WALLACE, son of William John WALLACE and Martha Rosina PEACHEY, and nephew of Joseph WALLACE. All I had was his name and his parent’s names.

In September I was contacted by a descendant of Bruce Wallace (1920-1990), who had found the information I had posted on RootsWeb – to my family tree and to my genealogy project web site.  She shared her family information on MyHeritage.com – Wallace Web Site. As a result of this contact, and the information we have exchanged, I have been able to include the descendants of Bruce Wallace in my tree. Plus I have also been able to add details of Jack Wallace and Martha Wallace (siblings of Bruce) and some of their descendants.

I had not used MyHeritage.com before this exchange, but was impressed with how the site keeps a log of changes made to the online family tree, and allows family members to update their part of the tree, add photos, add facts, and help with the research.

Once again, this experience demonstrated to me how sharing your genealogy information on the internet can assist in making useful new contacts to help with your research.

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