George Wallis

page 13


When these pages first appeared I said that little was known about Wallis's family.  But now a great deal more is known.  This information comes largely from Amanda Bell, a great-great grandchild of George Wallis, to whom I am very much indebted.  A large amount of information about the life and work of George Wallis's children comes from the wonderfully researched article by Olga Baird:  "The Knights of Museums: the Wallis Family and their Memorabilia in the Collection of the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, The Birmingham Historian, Issue 32, Summer 2008, pp. 23-29.  I am also obliged to Tony Leak, who is a descendant of William Wallis, George's younger brother, for the census and trade directory information given below and for the information about William Wallis and his family.  This information arrived too late for it to be integrated with the life of George Wallis appearing on the preceding pages.  This will be done in due course and the entry below for George Wallis will have further summary details of his career added. 

Much of what follows is taken from the Cundell Family Bible (1777) in which George Wallis wrote ‘The Family Register’. Since his death it has been updated by other members of the family from different generations.  Wallis's wife was a Cundell and a printed version of her family tree goes back to the 13th century.   The Cundells appear to have been minor landed gentry - probably somewhat different in social status from George Wallis's immediate ancestors. 

Left:  Amanda Bell holding the Cundell Bible.


John Wallis born Sept 1783 in Wolverhampton, married Mary Price of Wolverhampton 12.7.84 at the parish church Sedgley on 27.08.1810.  According to Sedgley parish records and to the Staffordshire Directory, 1818 and the Commercial Directory 1818-20, he was a brush maker.  There were many brushmakers in Wolverhampton making many sorts of brushes.  Did John Wallis make artists' brushes? 

John died 23.12.1818, aged 35, and was buried at the Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton.

Mary Wallis, after John's death, is recorded,  in  the rate books as living at Horseley Fields.  At the 1841 census a Mary Wallis is recorded, aged 55, as living at Horseley Fields with her sons George, 25; William, 20; and John (20).   She died at Wolverhampton on 14.2.1864 (aged 80) and was interred in Wolverhampton General Cemetery.

John and Mary Wallis are known, from the Wolverhampton baptism records, to have had four children baptised:

George, baptised 9th June 1811
Richard, baptised 1st November  1812
Emma, baptised 8th August 1813
William, baptised 16th June 1818

In addition the records also show:

John Worrallas Wallis, son of John and Mart Wallis, baptised 27th June 1819.  This was a posthumous birth.  The child's middle name seems to show the connection with the Worralow family. (His name appears in later references as John Worralow Wallis).  The birth also suggests why George Wallis went to live with his uncle - to relieve the pressure on his mother. 

George Wallis:

George Wallis was born on the 8th June 1811 and baptised at St. Peters, Wolverhampton, on 9th June 1811.  He was the eldest child of John and Mary Wallis.

In Robson's trade directory of 1839 he is listed as being an artist living in Horseley Fields.

In the 1841 census George Wallis appears as aged 25, artist, with Mary Wallis as head of the household.  They lived in Horseley Fields.  His brother William is listed as "painter" and his brother John as "Brush M".  (Richard and Emma may not have survived).

He married Matilda Cundell second daughter of William and Caroline Cundell (born 30.6.1818) at St Mark’s Church Kennington, Camberwell on 30th June 1842.  He is described in the marriage certificate as being an "artist" of Frances Street.  She is described as the daughter of William Cundell, farmer. 

In the 1851 census George is living at 14 College Place, St. Pancras, and is described as "artist, portrait and landscape painter". 

In the Post Office Directory of 1854 he is entered as the Headmaster of the Government School of Ornamental Art.  And in White's Directory of 1855 he is similarly described.

In the 1861census he is listed as living at 16 Victoria Grove, Chelsea, "photo artist".

In the 1871 census he is listed at the same address but as "Keeper of the Art Collection, South Kensington Museum".

In the 1881 census he is at 4 The Residences, Kensington, and as "Keeper of the Collection of Science and Art" at the South Kensington Museum. 

In the 1891 census he appears at 2 Russel Street, Walcot, Bath, a widower, and "Civil Service, Keeper of Art Collection, Kensington Museum".

George Wallis died at 24 St. George’s Road Wimbledon 24.10.1891 and was interred at Highgate Cemetery in the family grave (No.3758) following a service at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton.

Matilda Wallis died at No 4 the Residences South Kensington Museum on 8.3.1888 and was interred at Highgate Cemetery, in the family grave) following a service at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton.

Presumably Wallis had moved to Wimbledon after the death of his wife, Matilda. 


Two portraits, identified by labels on their backs, as Caroline Cundell (Wallis's mother-in-law) and Mary Wallis (Wallis's mother).  By courtesy of Amanda Bell.  These images may not be reproduced in any form without the express consent of Amanda Bell.

Issue of George and Matilda Wallis:

Esther Mary born 6.7.1843  at 20 Windsor Terrace City Road London, died at 14 College Place Camden 2.9.1850 aged 7 years. Interred at Highgate in the family grave.

George Harry born 12.9.1847 at 7 Renshaw Street, Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester.  Married 3.6.1880 Katherine Watson Carey, youngest daughter of Henry Carey of Nottingham, and had issue:  Muriel Carey, born 25.02.1882;  George Dudley, born 16.03.1883;  Katherine Carey, born 22.08.1884.

Jane Kate born 19.7.1849 at 14 College Place, Camden. 

Arthur Dudley born 30.10.1852 George St Villa Street, Aston, Birmingham. Died 10.4.1853 at the same place aged 5 months 11days. Interred at Highgate.

Whitworth born 23.6.1855 at George St. Villa Street Birmingham.  Married Charlotte Mary White, eldest daughter of William White of Chiselhurst, Kent, and had issue. They had three daughters (the youngest of whom was Amanda Bell's grandmother).

Rosa born 5.3.1857 at Stretton in the Peculiar of Penkridge in Stafford. She died in or after 1938.   

The visiting card of Mrs. George Wallis and the Misses Wallis.  Unmarried women, living with their parents, did not have their own cards but had their names added to their mother's card in this fashion.  When Rosa and Jane moved out of 4 The Residences and set up on their own, they would have had their own cards.

There were thus four children who survived to adulthood:  George Harry, Jane, Whitworth, and Rosa.  Olga Baird has traced much of their careers and full details appear in her article.  They may be summarised thus:

Both George Harry and Whitworth trained with their father at the South Kensington Museum.  Whitworth is know to have been educated in London, Paris, Hanover and Berlin.  He also had some success as a painter.

George Harry lived in Nottingham where he was the curator of the Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery from its first opening.  He there married Kate Watson Carey and had two daughters, Muriel and Katherine, and a son George P Dudley Wallis. 

This son became the Curator of the Holburn Museum of Art, Bath, from 1913 to 1917 when he joined the army.  In 1922 he was appointed Curator of the Gallery at the Manchester Whitworth Institute.  He seems to have retired from there in 1938 and returned to London.

George Harry Wallis and his children, from a cabinet photo.  The dog was called Vic.

Whitworth, (possibly named after his father's old friend, Sir Joseph Whitworth), having trained at the South Kensington Museum, had a curatorial post there.  He also kept the Indian Collections of the Prince of Wales and of Queen Victoria.  In 1883 he was appointed a Curator at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, later becoming Keeper, in which post he continued until his death in 1927.  He was knighted in 1912.

Rosa trained at the Manchester College of Art and in Berlin, and was a successful painter of flowers and landscapes, and was also an etcher and enameller.  She travelled widely in Britain, Italy, France and Austria and between 1880 and 1930 exhibited about 300 art works.  She remained unmarried, living with her parents with her sister Jane, until some time in the early 1880s they both moved to 7 Park View, Croydon; from 1902 they were at 39 Eardley Crescent, Earls Court, London;  from1904 to 1909 they were at Redcliffe Studios, 80 Redcliffe Square;  and they moved, finally, to 11 Trebovir Road, Earls Court.  Amanda Bell has a picture (left) of Rosa's dated  1885  inscribed ‘A corner of our Drawing Room at 4 The Residences  South Kensington Museum.’

By courtesy of Amanda Bell.  This image may not be reproduced in any form without the express consent of Amanda Bell.

Olga Baird points out that from these histories it is clear that George Wallis produced a dynasty of artists and leading museum and art gallery curators.  George's brother, William, also produced artists. 

William Wallis and John Worralow Wallis

John Worralow Wallis seems to have been a brush maker all his working life.  He is listed as such in various censuses and directories as late as 1867.  He moved to Birmingham at some point between 1851 and 1861. 

William Wallis was also an artist and is listed as such in various censuses and directories.  He eventually became a teacher at the Birmingham School of Art.  Of his own children, Walter Wallis became Head of the School of Art at Croydon.  And Walter Wallis's sons were also artistic, all three of them joining the Artists Rifles in World War I.  Charles had been an art student prior to enlisting but was killed in the War.  Walter Cyril is said, within the family, to have become a museum curator in Edinburgh. 

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