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Famous Scots - Rev. Alexander Wallace Dd

In 1851 Dr. Wallace was settled in Potterrow United Presbyterian church, Edinburgh. The glory of this congregation was much obscured, but under his pastorate it revived. The empty pews were soon occupied, and the new life then begun has continued to this day. In the Scottish capital his enthusiasm got free swing, and as a platform orator he was in great demand. His work in Potterrow was a good preparation for that which lay before him in Glasgow, when in 1857 he became minister of East Campbell Street church. Here also the membership was not numerous when he came. Under the influence and earnestness of the new minister the church awoke, and the membership largely increased. Its organisations were remodelled and strengthened, and good work was accomplished. About this time Dr. Wallace delivered in the City Hall a course of lectures on "The Charities of our Great Cities," which were largely attended and much valued.

As the accommodation in the old church proved inadequate to the demand it was taken down, and a new one built in its stead. When it was opened its pews were filled. By this time Dr. Wallace had become a most attractive preacher to young men, many of whom had come to Glasgow to enter upon business life. His interest in them took the practical shape of private conference, at which counsel was imparted suitable to the circumstances of each.


In order to stem the tide of sin and intemperance in the city, Dr. Wallace, along with other clergymen and laymen, set agoing various philanthropies, such as the free breakfast table, etc., at which are fed the bodies and souls of many poor people. He was ever energetic in the cause of temperance through the press, in the pulpit, and on the platform. Perhaps East Campbell Street pastor did more for temperance literature than any other clergyman of his day. His stones and anecdotes were fresh and attractive, and he tuned his lyre and sang songs of sweetness. His "Gloaming of Life," a memoir of James Stirling, was a great favourite; while the record of his travels in the Holy Land, along with the late Sir Peter Coats, and his book on "The Clouds of the Bible," were favourably noticed in the organs of public opinion.

Though possessing a comprehensive grasp of Biblical truth, yet he never professed to be a Biblical critic. His aim was to impress on the conscience and character the lessons taught in the Bible, and to feed the soul with the bread of life. His disposition was sympathetic. He had a pleasant smile and kind words for those whom he visited. In sickness he cheered, and in sorrow caused by bereavement he was a son of consolation. On the day when the late Janet Hamilton, the blind poetess, was buried, his prayer at the mouth of the grave was solemn and tender. Its pathos and balm of consolation are fresh in my memory to-day.

Dr. Wallace received the title of doctor of divinity from Westminster College, in the United States. He was honoured by his congregation at his semi-jubilee and on another occasion with substantial tokens of their esteem.


Time's inroads upon his vigour caused him gradually to diminish his ministerial labours. The congregation provided him with a colleague. From that time, however, his strength gradually weakened and he became incapacitated for regular official duty. On the 20th August, 1893, after severe suffering he fell on sleep, at the ripe age of seventy-seven. On Thursday, the 24th, his funeral took place, when both private and public services were held. The company of friends who attended was very large. It was deeply impressive at the open grave in New Cathcart Cemetery to see his eldest daughter standing at its head, and at the foot the faithful church-officer paying the last token of love and esteem.

The following extract from a published work will give a fair idea of Dr. Wallace's style:-

"O man of toil, I do assure thee that the Bible is, of all books, thy truest friend, thy best helper, thy surest guide; and whatsoever thou mayest think of churches, chapels, priests or parsons, the Bible - yes, the Bible - contains heaven's balm for all thy wounds - heaven's relief for all thy burdens - heaven's remedy for all thy troubles and thy Father's richest supply for all thy wants. The Bible, therefore, is the last book thou shouldst despise - on the contrary, it is the first book thou shouldst clasp to thy bosom and say, 'This is for me.' Take courage, brother, a better time is coming to the toiling multitudes of this and other lands - the dawn is already breaking - the shadows, however slowly, begin to flee away: and when the Sun of Bible truth shall gild with its bright beams the horizon of social life, men shall be enlightened, happy, peaceful and free."

Shortly before his death I visited his home, Westercraigs, Dennistoun, hallowed to him both by joys and sorrows. His conversation was cheering and refreshing. While he spoke touchingly of the goodness and mercy of his covenant God and Father to him in his pilgrimage, he felt that his journey here would soon end; and he knew that as his life was hid with Christ in God he would be removed to the abiding and unchanging home on high, and there behold his blessed Saviour, and have re-union with those whose fellowship had been so precious to him in this world.


Ere we parted he showed me a beautiful walking staff which two dear friends had presented to him on his seventy-seventh birthday, 4th March, 1893, This gift deeply affected him, and as he "mused the fire did burn," and from his poetic soul there came the following grateful impromptu verses. As he recited them his face was bright, but tears rolled down his furrowed cheeks:-

Dear friends, how kind of you to send
This trusty staff on which I bend
My weight of years on to the end.
And such a staff to grace my hand;
To see it must respect command
In any corner of the land!
Its buffalo horn, its silver sheen,
Its stock so light and firm, I ween
A gift like this is seldom seen.
It is a thing of beauty fair,
But oh, it is the friendship rare
That makes it bright beyond compare!
Old age has crept upon me fast,
The sunny days of youth are past,
And I go down the hill at last.
But all the way your words of cheer
Will be sweet music to my ear -
The soothing notes of friendship dear.
And then this staff, as day by day
I wander down life's weary way,
Will help me more than words can say.
Warm thanks, my friends, your treasured gift
Will give my feeble steps a lift
In summer's beat and winter's drift.
When you and I shall cease to roam,
And we have to the valley come,
May God's own staff support us home.
His "rod and staff" shall never fail
Whatever troubles may assail;
Our treasure's safe within the vail.

There was unveiled, on the 18th August, 1894, in the vestibule of the church, a beautiful mural tablet and medallion of Dr. Wallace, in loving memory of his thirty-six years ministry there. 

Headstone Photograph

Further Information


Cemetery: Cathcart Cemetery

  160 Brenfield Road

Town: Cathcart

Region: Glasgow and Clyde Valley

Country: Scotland


Please Note, the marker on this map indicates the Cemetery location, not the location of a particular grave. is a privately owned website with no affiliation to any Local Councils.