Correspondence and Papers of Professor William Wallace (1768-1843)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-528
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2 manuscript volumes, 1 document, 1 letter. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      Dk.3.36; Dk.3.40; Gen. 75D; Gen. 1732 Wallace

Scope and Content

The material includes: probate of will, 1843; a letter to Lieutenant J. E. Alexander about his account of antediluvian bones, 1829; a letter to T. Drummond, 1830; a mathematical notebook containing problems, circa 1820-1830; and, a signature of Wallace on the title page of A treatise of algebra.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Wallace was born in Dysart, Fife, on 23 September 1768. He was apprenticed to an Edinburgh bookbinder and became a warehouseman in a printing office. While in that job he taught himself Latin, French and mathematics, and after becoming a bookseller's assistant and then a private teacher, he attended classes at Edinburgh University. In 1794 Wallace became an assistant mathematics teacher at Perth Academy, and at this time too contributed to the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1803 he became the Mathematics master at the Royal Military College in Great Marlow, and he also lectured in Astronomy there. In 1819, Wallace was appointed Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University. He received the degree of LL.D there in 1838. His publications include A new book of interest, containing Aliquot tables, truly proportioned to any given rate (1794), and Geometrical theorems and analytical formulae (1839). Professor William Wallace died on 28 April 1843.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Probate of will, presented by the British Records Association, 1960, Accession no. E60.10. Book with signature, purchased March 1961, Accession no. E61.9. Alexander letter, purchased February 1981, Accession no. E81.20


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 20. Ubaldini-Whewell. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Wallace related material (check the Indexes for more details): letter to Walker from R. K. Greville, 1825, at Gen 1730 onwards; letter to Walker from Sir T. M. Brisbane, 1829, at Gen. 1730 onwards; letter to Walker from Professor W. P. Alison, circa 1830; and, letter from Professor T. Jackson to D. Laing mentioning Walker's article on algebra for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1836, at La.IV.17. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: manuscripts, Institute of Actuaries; and, letters to Thomas Chalmers, circa 1829-1833, Edinburgh University, New College, Ref. CHA4 NRA 27818 Chalmers.


Corporate Names