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William Vincent Wallace and family

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "William Vincent Wallace and family", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 23 February 2018

WALLACE, Spencer (senior)

Professor of music, violinist, former bandmaster (28th Regiment)

Born Kilalla parish, Co. Mayo, Ireland, 22 February 1789
Arrived Sydney, NSW, by 1 March 1836
Died Parramatta, NSW, 1846, aged 57 [NSW-RBDM, V1846115 31B/1846] (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


According to an online family history of the composer Wallace (posted Ireland 2010), a Spencer Wallace was born in Kilalla parish, Co. Mayo, on 22 February 1789 to Jacob Wallace. This date fits exactly with his reported age on death. According to a press report on 1 March 1836 on William Vincent's latest appearance:

Mrs. Wallace, Miss Wallace, as also his brother and father are all in the colony; they are excellent musicians, and in conjunction with Mrs. Taylor, and Mrs. Chester, could give concerts.

Spencer senior, Eliza and Wellington appear to have moved together to Parramatta by May 1837, and the latter two moved back to Sydney during 1838. Spencer either stayed on or returned to Parramatta where he was later remembered as a shopkeeper. Alfred Cox was one of his pupils.


"LAST FRIDAY EVENING'S CONCERT", The Sydney Gazette (1 March 1836), 3

[Advertisement], The Australian (12 May 1837), 1

WALLACE, William Vincent

Violinist, pianist, professor of music, composer

Born Waterford, Ireland, 1812
Arrived Hobart Town, VDL (TAS), 1835
Departed Sydney, NSW, 1838
Died Château de Bagen, Sauveterre de Comminges, Haut Garonne, France, 12 October 1865, "in his 50th year" [sic] (TROVE tagged by Australharmony) (NLA persistent identifier)

See also on Wallace in Dublin and Sydney: 

WALLACE, Isabella (Miss Alicia Isabella KELLY; Mrs. William Vincent WALLACE)

WALLACE, William Vincent (junior)

See below on Wallace's wife and son


To the best of my knowledge, Wallace first began using the name Vicnent professionally in North (and possibly previously also South) America in the early 1840s. He is certainly not documented as having used it in Australia; despite the likelihood, as elsewhere reasonably assumed or claimed, that he had taken the name on his second baptism, as a Catholic, prior to his wedding to Isabella Kelly in 1832.


George Boyes, diary, Hobart, 4 December 1835 (MS, University of Tasmania, Royal Society Collection)

4th [December 1835] . . . Stone dined with us. Afterwards I went to a concert. Heard a Mr. Wallace upon the Violin. He played finely - an air of Spohr's full of double stops, was beautifully executed.

George Boyes, an amateur violinist, had been a pupil of Paolo Spagnoletti in London before he first came to Australia in the mid 1820s.

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Sydney Herald (8 February 1836), 2 

ARRIVALS ... From Cork, yesterday, having sailed from thence the 31st of October, the ship James Pattison, Captain Cromarty, with 324 female emigrants. Passengers, Dr. Osborne, R.N., Mrs. Osborne, Miss Osborne, Misses Jane and Mary Osborne, and Masters William, John, and Alexander Osborne.

Mrs. Edward Cox's Journal (written about 1877) [in pencil: 1880]; transcribed by Andrew Houison (1850-1912) 

[c.1836-37] ... and [I] was then married to my dear Husband and then went to live at Mulgoa Cottage. It was a very pretty place [MS transcript page 37] ... besides which we had a grand neighbour in Sir John Jamison, about four miles from the Cottage. It was a fine residence, a large Stone house: he entertained in a liberal manner. My husband and I used to meet many pleasant people there among which I remember Sir Francis Forbes, Sir Richard Bourke, W. Charles Wentworth, Esq., Wallace, the Composer of Maritana, Mr. Manning, the Father of Sir W. Manning, Commissary General and Mrs. Laidley and many other Military Men. It was there I first met Lady Deas-Thompson, whose singing enchanted me.

Jane Maria Cox (1806-1888) arrived in New South Wales with her parents, Richard and Christiana Brooks, in 1814. In 1823 the Brooks family moved from Sydney to Denham Court near Liverpool. In 1827 Jane married Edward Cox (1805-1868) of Fernhill, Mulgoa.

"MEMOIR OF MR. WALLACE", Illustrated London News (22 November 1845), 13

Public curiosity is always piqued in respect to the early struggles of eminent musicians. In the varied incidents of their career, one loves to trace the influences of art and the events which gradually call forth the supremacy of a master-mind. A biographical notice of Mr. Wallace, if given at length, would transport us to scenes of exciting interest both in the Old and New World; and, doubtless, the successful composer will in due course make his debut as an author, for his life has been one of romance and adventure, fully exemplifying the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. We can but allude rapidly to some leading points of his eventful travels in the other hemisphere.

Mr. Wallace is a native of Ireland, and was bom, as we believe, in 1815, Waterford boasting the honour of his birth. His father was a practical musician; and, at seven years of age, the young pupil was already a clever pianist. It was in Dublin, however, that his musical genius was strongly developed. At twelve years of age, having studied the violin, he joined the orchestra of the Theatre Royal, curiously enough, when Mr. Bunn was lessee. During the absence of Barton, the leader, Mr. Wallace, at the age of fifteen, became the chef, having been unanimously called to that post by his orchestral colleagues. Having been strongly eulogised by the magician Paganini, for his fine execution of one of the difficult pieces of the latter, he was encouraged to greater exertions. He could retain in memory all the music he heard. Madame Catalani noticed in flattering terms the extraordinary faculties of the youth. Mr. Wallace had the honour of leading Beethoven's oratorio of "The Mount of Olives," on its first performance in the Irish capital, by the Anacreontic Society. It does not appear that he studied under any particular master. He took lessons in harmony and composition from one teacher, violin exercies under another, and Czerny's studies were his resources for piano playing.

At the age of 18 Mr. Wallace quitted Dublin, for long sea voyage to Sidney, on account of consumptive symptoms having manifested themselves in his constitution. From the Governor, Sir John Burke, the artist received great acts of kindness, and he gave concerts at Sidney with great success. Here the romantic and enthusiastic tendencies of his character developed themselves, and he commenced a series of extraordinary journeys both by sea and land. An American paper states that he has been a sailor before the mast. From Sidney, Mr. Wallace sailed to Van Diemen's Land, and then visited New Zealand, where he engaged in the whale fisheries. After he left the savages of the Bay of Islands, he went to the East Indies, where he remained a year. Here he had a most miraculous escape in a tiger hunt, when an enormous tiger sprang upon his horse, and he was thrown senseless to the ground. Recovering his consciousness and presence of mind, he drew a pistol from his belt, and, observing the tiger, who had been carried by his bound some yards beyond him, he took a deliberate aim; the ball entered the head of the animal, who fell dead, nearly crushing his vanquisher.

Mr. Wallace next sailed from Madras for Valparaiso, in the Republic of Chili; where, and at Santiago, he gave concerts. He was in the last mentioned city of earthquakes, at one of these terrific scenes. From Santiago, he crossed the majestic Cordilleras of the Andes to Buenos Ayres, where his stay, however, on account of the blockade, was but brief. He returned to Santiago, where he displayed a remarkable evidence of his enthusiasm for art. He had given pledge to play at a concert on a certain day, in Valparaiso, for the benefit of a charity, but some circumstances drove the promise from his memory. Being reminded by a friend of the fact, when it was apparently impossible for him to reach Valparaiso in time, Wallace resolved to ride on horseback the whole distance, 125 miles, to keep faith; and he performed this equestrian feat with 13 horses, in less than 11 hours, and was in time for the concert. From Chili, he went to Peru, and gave a concert at Lima, which produced the large sum of 5000 dollars. His curiosity prompted him to be an eye witness of a battle between the Peruvians and the Chilians, and he there became acquainted with Santa Cruz.

Crossing the Isthmus of Panama, Mr. Wallace next visited the West Indies, and gave concerts at Jamaica, Cuba, and the Havannah. His flight was then taken Mexico, and he performed both at Vera Cruz, Tampico, and the city of Mexico. In the last-mentioned locality he had a narrow escape of perishing in the Inquisition. It is in this edifice, erected by the Auto da Fé Spaniards, that concerts are now given, and whilst the audience were assembling in the hall above, the musician's antiquarian lore prompted him to examine the dungeons below, without a guide. He lost his way, and it was only by accident that he was extricated from his perilous position. He led the opera band in Mexico, and then crossed the Gulf to New Orleans, where he had brilliant reception. There is an admirable orchestra in this city, led by Prevot, of Bordeaux, which piques itself on its rivality to the Parisian Conservatoire. Mr. Wallace was so much cheered by these French artists, that they laid down their instruments, and abandoned the tutti to applaud le Jeune Irlandais. The climate there had its effect on the subject of our memoir, and for seven months, prostrated by fever, he did not touch a note. He returned to New Orleans, after his tour to Missouri, and gave a farewell concert.

His progress through the United States, as it appears from all the newspapers, was one combined series of triumphs. The novelty of a violinist setting aside his bow to play the piano, seemed to have astonished the Transatlantic critics. At Boston, he came into direct collision with Ole Bull, the Norwegian; Artot, the Belgian: and Vieuxtemps, also a Belgian - three most renowned violinists; but Mr. Wallace, if we are to credit the local organs, maintained his ground. After complimentary farewell concerts had been given to him every where by the amateurs, especially at New York, he returned to Europe, remained three days in London, and then made a musical tour in Germany and Holland. Last spring he reached London, and, at Miss Hawes's Concert, made his debut as a pianist, at the advice of his friends, who suggested that he would obtain a great teaching connection. Fortunately, his operatic talents were discovered, and the acceptation of his MS opera by Mr. Bunn has given a proper direction to them.

It is a curious coincidence that both Balfe and Wallace have led Dublin orchestras, have travelled much, and their first operas were produced by the Drury Lane Lessee, Mr. Fitzball, in both instances, writing their libretti. We understand that such is Mr. Wallace's intense application, he has studied all the irutruments of the orchestra, to make himself master of their qualities. We learn from persons who have been able to appreciate the character of the composer, that he is a modest, retired man, but animated and intelligent when excited to talk over his romantic career. His enthusiasm for art is stated to be unbounded. If not ruined by awaking one morning here and finding himself famous, he has a glorious prospect before him, and, as a native musician, we are proud to publish his portrait to the world.

"MR. WALLACE, THE COMPOSER, VIOLINIST AND PIANIST", Cork Examiner (12 January 1846), 4

The career of the composer of Maritana has been certainly most curious. As a child, his first essay music was as a pianist; a mere youth. He is next seen leading a Dublin orchestra. In manhood, traversing the old and new worlds, he appears alternately as a pianist and violinist; he comes upon the track of the first players, and he maintains his position. The spring of 1845 finds him a pianist in the fashionable concerts of London - the autumn leaves have scarely fallen when he jumps at once into notoriety and fame as a composer; and now, only last night, even in the meridian of Greenwich, did we hear him display marvellous skill and passionate expression as a violinist. But his wandering course is not completed - he is leaving shortly for Italy to produce an opera prior to the ensuing musical campaign this metropolis. Here is an extraordinary versatility of talent, and if there be not genius in such unprecedented qualifications, then must its attributes be of a strange kind. The musician who, almost self-taught, struggles with great difficulties, and finally achieves glory every undertaking, can be no ordinary artist; musical faculties must be to him intuitive. Mr. Wallace is a Proteus, to whom all forms appear to be familiar; it is recorded of him that dissatisfied once with a clarionet-player, during a rehearsal, he seized the instrument, and played the wished-for passage himself. We do not know the intentions of this versatile composer, but having heard him as a pianist and as a violinist, we hope that he will devote his practice to the emperor of all instruments. On the pianoforte he displays a certain order of capability, but he is not great; this is our opinion - it may not be shared by Mr. Wallace, or by his enthusiastic admirers, but before the production of Maritana, we know that we did not stand alone; but, as performer on the violin, it depends entirely on himself whether he will take the first position. He has all the intellectual and physical requisites to constitute superior executant. His hand and fingers seem to have been formed for the violin - in shape they are nearest to the remarkable digits of Paganini, of any violinist we recollect. But Mr. Wallace has a greater gift; he possesses exquisite sensibility and truth of expression. Two pieces did he execute in last night's programme - an introduction and a theme - with variations composed by himself; and, with the gifted pianist, Benedict, the concertante duet, on subjects from Rossini's William Tell, arranged by De Beriot and Osborne. The introduction in the first piece was elegant, and the theme happy; reminding one of Mayseder's style. The variations were contrived to develope Mr. Wallace's mechanism. There was no unmeaning daub in the colouring it was brilliant but not extravagant. In level playing his tone is magnificent; nothing can be more delicious than his legato, and his general intonation is admirable; his mastery over the bow is complete, but in the double stopping, chromatic passages, and harmonies he was not so certain arising, probably, from being out of practice, and perhaps more from the temperature of the lecture-hall in which the concert was given in the presence of upwards of 1,000 persons. He was much cheered at the conclusion of his own composition; but, whilst we felt the presence of a great violinist, we involuntarily exclaimed "He can do greater things!" and when Wallace was associated with Benedict the duet, then did his genius soar proudly. Emancipated from mere tricks and conventionalities, the mind of the musician predominated, and the poetry of his art was revealed succession of expressive phrases that moved his auditory beyond measure. Who that has once heard the outpourings of grief of Arnold in the celebrated trio from William Tell, can forget the emotions excited by musical sounds describing a son's sorrows for his father's loss? Who that has heard Duprez pour forth this Rossinian outbreak, can obliterate from memory his agonising tones? Well! here is a violinist who has no orchestration to sustain him no dramatic adjuncts to assist the illusion - and yet there he stands, bringing forth from strings the scream of anguish, as acute and as intensely painful as if the histrionic scene was before the eye. Here was the triumph of the soloist, the victory of mind over matter; and the conviction that Wallace is a grand violinist was manifested beyond a doubt. The hall rang with plaudits at the conclusion of this duet, of which Benedict sustained his portion with tact, taste, and energy. Expression is Mr. Wallace's forte - great, undoubtedly, as are his executive powers. The vocal attractions of these subscription concerts were highly gratifying. Mademoiselle Schloss gave Weber's scena from Freischutz with great effect. Madame F. Lablache sang Wallace's ballad, Scenes that are brightest," and Benedict's "By the sad sea waves," with that artistic feeling she so eminently displays her vocalization. Signor F. Lablache monopolised the encores in "Miei rampolli," substituting "Largo al factotum," Rossini's Tarantelle, and the "Senza tanti complimenti" of Donizetti with his cara sposa. Mr. Wetherbee sang "Hear me, gentle Maritana," effectively. He has a fine voice, and is promising basso. Mr. Carte and his pupil Mr. Rockstro deiighted the flutists with specimens on the Boehm invention, totally unmindful of Cherubini's anathema, who declared that nothing could be more tiresome than a flute solo - except a flute duo. This Greenwich concert was certainly creditable every respect. Who could have imagined, ten years since, that such scheme, with such artists, could have been insured, and that upward of 1,000 amateurs would have full of enthusiasm, and exhibiting marked intelligence in the appreciation of the music thus set before them? Morning Chronicle of Thursday.

[Wellington Guernsey], "WILLIAM VINCENT WALLACE", Dwight's Journal of Music (11 November 1865), 131-32 

Wellington Guernsey, "WILLIAM VINCENT WALLACE", The Sydney Morning Herald (28 December 1865), 3



Born at Waterford, June 1st, 1814,
Died at the Chateau de Bagen, Haute Garonne, France,
12th October, I865.
Requiscat in Pace.
(From the Musical World, October 21.)

DEATH has been busy for the last year among the children of genius, as well as among the great ones of the earth. Of the many who have fallen, the loss of no one inflicts a greater pang upon the heart of those who recognise his wonderful genius, as well as lauded him for his virtues, than that of whom we have the melancholy duty this day to record the death, William Vincent Wallace, the composer, leaving a widow and family to bewail an irreparable loss. Mr. Wallace, apart from his professional acquirements, was a most exemplary man. Quick in the perception of character, and an excellent linguist, he was also well stored with information from travelling, and reading German, Italian, French, and English literature; brilliant in conversational powers; a most affectionate parent and warm-hearted hospitable friend; and, take him all in all, we shall rarely find his equal.

The intelligence received from the South of France of the death ol' William V. Wallace, though expected from his lengthened illness, spread universal grief and commiseration throughout the musical community of the metropolis. It is on recovering from a blow like the present, when we are enabled to contemplate the void which Wallace leaves in his art, that we truly appreciate his position and influence. The hand of death is an unerring index to service and desert.

It is difficult to state when art begins in one whom God has gifted with genius; its principles, unrecognised, are present when consciousness begins to dawn upon the infant mind, and everything within and without tends, at first indirectly, to develop the innate susceptibility to impressions of the beautiful, from which all true music springs, lt is certain where true genius exists, its very earliest years are susceptible to the most rapturous sensations from musical sounds. It may be that the gifted one is unable to combine the musical ideas it dwells so doatingly upon; it may be also that it cannot analyse the motions which shake the young heart with a fullness of delight; but the soul recognises the harmony, which is a principle of its existence-an essence of its being, and the mystic spring is unsealed from whence in after years shall flow the streams of melody that will immortalise a name, and make posterity its debtor.

William Vincent Wallace was born in Ireland, in the city of Waterford. His father, Mr. William Wallace, was band master of the 29th regiment of the line, and was a most excellent and practical musician, playing nearly every instrument in the band, besides stringed instruments, and the pianoforte. The young Wallace displayed a wonderful aptitude to excel his father in all these accomplishments, and was highly encouraged and patronised by the colonel of the 29th, the late Sir John Buchan, who ever remained a steadfast friend to Wallace in his early career. At the age of fifteen he could handle, with considerable mastery, nearly every instrument in the orchestra, and could play with extraordinary excellence the piano-forte, the violin, the clarionet, and the guitar. Nor was this a display of mere mechanical facility. His great store of mechanical power was practically applied, for he had written numerous compositions, fantasies, marches, &c, &c, for his father's and other military bands. Before the period at which we have commenced his history-at this period, when only fifteen, though a young leader, yet an old musician, he was appointed organist of Thurles Cathedral, where he only remained a short period, when he returned to Dublin, where his position as leader of the theatre and concerts brought him in contact with all the musical celebrities of that day, and where his musical purposes were much strengthened by the kind encouragement and judicious commendations of Ferdinand Ries, Paganini, and others.

For three years he occupied a high musical position in Dublin, and had the honour of directing the first performance of Beethoven's "Mount of Olives" in Ireland. At the age of eighteen his strength seemed to sink under the pressure of his many studies and pressing engagements. He made up his mind to emigrate to New South Wales. For a long period after his arrival in that country, he literally plunged into the bush. But for one characteristic circumstance the world might never have known Wallace as a composer; but as a sheep farmer telling the hoards of wealth they produce, or, perhaps, as a digger of gold at Bathurst.

During one of his brief visits to Sydney, from the banks of the Darling, where he resided, he was, invited by some friends to attend a musical party. He went, little dreaming how that evening was to influence his destiny for ever, and to add another name to the bright list of musical celebrities. When he entered the room he saw four gentlemen seated round a table working away, with greater will than power, at a quartet by Haydn. All the music slumbering at his heart seemed to spring at once into vivid life, and he became possessed with the great musical desire; Much to the gratification of the party he played the first violin to the next quartet, and so they played on till morning. The fame of his performance spread through Sydney like wildfire, and, reaching the ears of the Governor, Sir Richard Bourke, of Limerick, he persuaded Wallace to give a concert, to which he consented. His success was great, and Sir Richard, as a mark of his delight, sent him two hundred sheep, which was in that country, and at that time, a princely gift.

After giving several concerts in conjunction with his sister, a vocalist, Madame Bushelle, and conducting several musical performances, a restless desire to travel seized upon him, and, to use an Irish phrase, he became a "roving blade," and wandered, he and his fiddle, into " strange countries." He visited Launceston in Van Diemen's Land, gave several concerts, then went to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, then a very primitive demi-civilised settlement, where he met with many hair-breadth escapes amongst the natives, which we have not space to enumerate. He went on a whaling voyage in a vessel called the "Good Intent," with a crew of half natives, who turned on the European portion at night, murdering all but three, Wallace being one of the number saved. He was landed at the South Island, and again saved from death by the chief's daughter, after it being arranged he was to be dispatched. From New Zealand he journeyed to the East Indies. With that unconsciousness, or recklessness of danger which was his characteristic in those days, he penetrated far into the interior, visiting the Court of Oude, everywhere delighting by his performance. The late queen behaved most munificently to him, granting him presents of great value in the shape of rupees and diamond rings, and-in those countries he encountered incidents of travel from which nothing but a remarkable coolness and presence of mind could have delivered him. After seeing all he deemed worthy, pig sticking and tiger hunting included, in Nepaul and on the borders of Cashmere, he reached Calcutt, and after a half a day's thought sailed for Valparaiso, in South America, From thence he went to the city of Santiago, where with the writer of this notice he crossed the majestic cordilleras of the Andes to Buenos Ayres, on horse-back and mule, where their stay on account of the blockade was but brief. They returned in company to Santiago, where he gave several concerts, performing solos on the violin and an old harpsichord that came from Spain in the year 1793. His last concert a Santiago produced him the sum of 3000 dollars paid a the doors in all sorts of specie, and amongst other coin given, the writer recollects two gauchos not having any specie, giving two game cocks for admission which they prized highly, so great was the enthusiasm to hear the great musician. He was assisted by Senora Paquita Robles, a native vocalist, and a young Scotchman who sang "Scotch melodies to the delight of-the Chiliens. He here displayed a remarkable evidence of his enthusiasm for art. He had given a pledge to play at a concert on a certain day in Valparaiso, for the benefit of a charity, but some circumstance drove the promise from his memory. Being reminded by his friend, the writer of this, of the fact when it was apparently impossible for him to reach Valparaiso in time, Wallace resolved to ride on horseback the whole of the distance, one hundred and twenty-five miles, to keep faith; and he performed this equestrian feat, with change ef horses, in less than eleven hours, and was in time for the concert. From Chili he went to Peru, and gave a concert at Lima, which produced the large sum of 6000 dollars. He again crossed the Andes, via Rosario, to Buenos Ayres, and visited Havanah, Vera Cruz, Tampico, and the city of Mexico. His success in these cities was very great, and there can be but little doubt that he realised a vast sum of money, more especially in Mexico, where he composed his Grand Mass, which we hope to see published one of these days, for an anniversary fete. It was performed at the Cathedral with immense success several times, and for which he was munificently rewarded by the Government. He went next to New Orleans, where his triumph was more gratifying than any he had yet achieved, for it was wrung from a highly critical and most exacting audience. So great was the enthusiasm excited at the St. Charles Theatre by the performance of his solo (one of his own compositions) on the violin, that the musicians in the orchestra forgot to play, and laid down their instruments to join in the tumult of applause. Foremost amongst the leaders was his old Dublin friend, Mr. Jack Fallon, the well-known leader in Dublin many years back, who held a distinguished position in the St. Charles orchestra at that time. From New Orleans he journeyed through the Southern States, and his concerts were literally a succession of triumphs.

We remember as well as though it were yesterday, in the year 1844, and it is now nearly twenty-one years ago, being one of a party invited to Colonel James L. Hewitt's rooms, over William Hall and Sons' music store, in New York, to meet Wallace, who had just come from the South. He was then a slim, gentlemanly-looking man, carefully and elegantly dressed. There was high intelligence in his face, but it seemed to lack fire; there was langour in his air, which made us think that the luxurious indolence of the South had become as it were a part of his nature. He seemed dreaming, and the wild romance of his life, which spread abroad, linked half- a-dozen heart-rending love tales with the name of our melancholy musician. He played the piano-his famous Cracovienne was the first piece-and it was generally acknowledged that he was the greatest pianist that had then visited America. But when he took his violin in hand and exhibited such extraordinary mastery over the instrument and such impassionate sentiment, we were one and all carried away with mingled feelings of astonishment and delight. His success in the United States, which fellowed this well-remembered evening, is familiar to all, and we need not reiterate it. He was looked upon by all as a gifted, wonderful, and eccentric genius, and as a musician of high attainments. His compositions for the instruments which he played were acknowledged as full of originality and power, but no one, we are sure, ever dreamed that William Vincent Wallace would in a few years take his stand amongst the greatest mental musicians of his age; that he would quench,the inspiration of the great executant and stand forth as a creator of enduring works; that he would rise from the chrysalis of a player to the full-grown stature of a musician - a creator - a composer! But Wallace had dreamed his dream, and came to London full of high aspirations, and prepared to work in that great mill where there were many workers, and some of whom had won the world's good favour. It was a bold push for fortune, for though his nome was well-known, there were many who had the start of him by many years, and there, was no place for hint. He had to make, a place for himself; and so he went to work. As a pianist he took a good position at once; but there were many good pianists-some of them the rage-and piano-forte compositions were a drug in the market.

We have often heard Wallace tell how on his first arrival in London, he left some of his compositions with a celebrated publisher in London, and how, on his second visit; they were politely handed back to him. How he on his return home, somewhat discomfited but with an inward consciousness of future greatness, marked on the margin of said pieces,-" refused by-, on such a date," and how after the triumphant success of Maritana, the said publisher came to hi lodgings and paid him twenty guineas for one of the very pieces he had formerly refused, even as a gift; and now they had a hearty laugh at the turn of fortune's wheel. Of Wallace's ability on his arrival in London from New York in 1845, no one entertained a doubt, but few had sounded the depth of his capacity. He determined to write an opera, and that ready writer, Fitzball, adapted the libretto of Don C├Žsar de Bazan as an opera, in something less than no time. The late Frederick Beale heard that Wallace was writing an opera and visited him just as he had completed the first act. Mr. Beale was himself a good musician and an excellent judge, saw at once that it had sterling merit, made a most liberal arrangement on the spot, and walked off with the score of th first act under his arm. Maritana was produced, and met with success altogether unprecedented, and far, very far, beyond the most sanguine hopes of the composer. It ran close on one hundred nights, and was acknowledged as one of the most successful and meritorious first operas ever produced. His second opera, produced in the season of 1847, Matilda of Hungary, though wedded to a libretto of Bunn's sufficiently heavy and stupid and disgusting to damn the finest music, met with distinguished success and favour, and called forth admiring comments from the best musical writers in England. From the first to the second opera, there was a wondeful mental stride; all evidence of the novice in writing had vanished, and the master had appeared in every movement. The high tone of the music; its variety and fitness for the characters and the situations; its simple and exquisite melodics; its marked dramatic power, and the bold, startling, and exquisite effects in the orchestration, over which the composer showed a perfect grasp and mastery; all these combined to stamp it as a work of high genius and excellence. By this work Wallace achieved a high position in the English musical world, and proved himself one of the leading English operatic composers, and so far ahead that he had few competitors. In the many English operas written during, the past twenty years, there are countless prominent beauties that the world will not willingly let die; but in many of them there is a want of that character, that strong individuality, which stomps a style, and marks a school. In Matilda of Hungary, these requisites are found, and we believe we do not exaggerate when we say that posterity will recognise in William Vincent Wallace one of the founders of the English operatic school. He was peculiarly fitted to accomplish this. He commenced the labour of his life at a later period than usual; but he commenced in the very prime of his energies, his mind stored full of the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge, which had laid dormant through many years, but which had been thoughtfully matured and strengthened for a great mental effort when the time had come. In his early life he was as we have shown, a hard student; he acquired then all that could be accomplished by chamber study; in orchestral writing he had large practical experience, and he studied the old masters with a loving and appreciative reverence. Here was a store of wealth to rest comparatively dormant, for a series of years, growing richer by its unexpected strength. Here was a mass of material receiving strength, refinement, and maturity, from a life of the wildest and most vivid excitement, amidst the grandest scenes of land and ocean, with a soul keenly alive to all the beauties of the inner and outer life, with art shrined high above all, and encircled by love, adventure, and romance. What wonder when he came to draw upon these resources, that he found the fountain inexhaustible, and that the phantasmagoria of his past life welled out in a sudden stream of delicious thought and fanciful images.

The undoubted success of Wallace's operas in England attracted the attention of the continental musical world, and he received an invitation from Vienna to superintend the production of Maritana. Wallace longed to be heard in Germany, and he started with his scores, and arrived in Vienna. Maritana was most carefully rehearsed and admirably performed, and was received with more public enthusiasm in Vienna than it even met with in London. It was played night after night for many months, and ran through all the German opera houses like an epidemic. Its noble overture to this day is a standard concert overture at public festivals, &c. Whilst in Germany, Wallace found himself everywhere received as one of the noble brotherhood. It was no uncommon thing as he passed from city to city, deeming himself unknown, to be awakened in the night by a serenade, in which the principal themes of his operas were introduced. In such kindly attentions we recognise the true spirit of the gentle craft, and the heart must be cold indeed that does not warm to the fellowship of such people.

Wallace studied most assiduously while in Germany, and wrote the greater part of his opera of "Lurline," which after an interval of fourteen years, was produced under the Pyne and Harrison management in 1860. Its brilliant success must still be fresh in the memory of all our musical readers. He also at the period nearly completed his fourth opera, "The Maid of Zurich," which never appeared, and he sketched out two Italian operas, part of the score of each we heard at Wiesbaden; they were named "Gulnare" and Olga - we presume they are in existence amongst his posthumous works. When Wallace left Germany, after a brief visit to London, he went to Paris, where he revelled in the fellowship of the most brilliant musical minds in the world. The great ambition of an operatic composer's life was in a fair way of being realised-he was commissioned to write an opera for the Grand Opera of Paris, a point of the highest ambition with all composers, and one the most difficult for a foreigner to attain. Now came one of the great misfortunes of his life. Elated with the bright prospect before him, he sought out George, and from him procured a Libretto for his opera. Full of the subject, he began his work, but before he had finished the first number, that calamity, which of all calamities he feared the most, overtook him, and he became nearly blind. The first oculist in France attended him assiduously; week succeded week until they grew into months, and still he remained in total darkness. The anxiety, the torture of mind which he endured during this trying period may be better imagined than described. At length a change for the better was apparent, and a long sea voyage was ordered him as the only means of permanent relief. So once again he became a wanderer, and in 1849 he arrived in Rio Janeiro. He remained in South America some eight months, and gave several concerts. He played frequently before the Court, and received from the hands of the Emperor a superb diamond ring. Leaving Rio, he visited New Orleans, where, together with Mr. Stackosch, he gave several concerts with wonderful success. From New Orleans Wallace worked his way to New York, through the West, narrowly escaping death by the explosion of the steamer St. Louis, on the river Mississippi, arriving in New York in the summer of 1850. He immediately registered his declaration of intention to become a citizen, and prepared himself, to work upon new operas in hand. He now also entered into a speculation connected with pianoforte-making, which ended for all parties most disastrously; he also joined a tobacco manufactory, which ended in a similar manner. In 1852 he gave a series of concerts in New York, performing for the last time in America at his sister's (Madame Bushelle) concert, when he performed on the pianoforte his Cracovienne, his Polka Bravura, and a solo of his own composition, on the violin. He also concluded an engagement with the music-publishing house of Hall and Son, awarding to them the sole right of publishing his works in America. Some of his most popular songs and pieces were written previous to this in America, and published there, for which he received no remuneration whatever, besides the loss of their becoming non-copyright in England. He shortly after returned to London, where he composed many works, amongst others a cantata written by Mr. Joseph Edward Carpenter, which has not been performed. He was also under engagements to a publishing-house to complete an opera written by that gentleman, entitled The King's Page, which he sketched out; and also a series of songs which he finished, by Carpenter, Challis, etc., - and are published by Duff and Hodgson. In the spring of 1861 the Amber Witch was composed - the most elaborate of all his works, but which, from the nature and formation of the libretto failed to become popular, though containing many morceaux worthy of any composer. Wallace spent more time over this opera in scoring and composing it than any of his previous lyrical works. For months and months, night and day, he worked at it, and we have no hesitation in stating, that it laid the foundation of the cruel disease which carried him off. Late in the following year, Love's Triumph appeared, and on the 12th October, 1863, the Desert Flower was produced, the last of his acted lyrical works. On these we shall not remark, for they must be vividly remembered by all our readers. He had a most prolific pen, and nothing came from it but was well digested, well considered, polished, and worthy of his reputation. His very trifles gave indisputable evidence of the master hand. We have given in this truly hasty sketch of a great man the principal points of his musical career; we have not had time to work up and colour the narrative, and we have omitted enough of incident and accident to make up an ordinary novel. But the bare outline we have traced of an eventful and valuable life cannot fail to interest all who honour genius, and respect earnest labour, and indomitable perseverance. He retired to France nearly twelve months back, where he died on Thursday, the 12th instant, at the Chateau de Bagen, Haute Garonne in the Pyrenese. The immediate cause of his death is stated to have been "congestion of the lungs."

Softly sleeps he - pain and sorrow
Burn no longer on his brow
Wearied watchers, ye may leave him,
He will never need you now.

Bibliography and resources:

Annie de Meurant Mulligan, In happy moments, unpublished typescript biography, 1930; National Archives of Australia (DIGITISED)

Catherine Mackerras, "Wallace, William Vincent (1812-1865)", Australian dictionary of biography 2 (1967)

Lamb 2012, William Vincent Wallace: composer, virtuoso and adventurer

Online only:

Noelene Beckett Crowe, "Wallace brothers", Mayo Genealogy Group; Irish Community Archive Network 




WALLACE, Spencer Wellington (S. W. WALLACE)

Professor of music, orchestra leader, violinist, flautist, arranger, composer

Born Ireland, ?
Arrived Sydney, NSW, by 1 March 1836
Died Geelong, VIC, 15 August 1852 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


"LAST FRIDAY EVENING'S CONCERT", The Sydney Gazette (1 March 1836), 3

"THE CONCERT", The Australian (1 June 1838), 2

... We scarcely know how to speak of Mr. Wellington Wallace's Fantasia on the flute; it was such a compound of extraordinary tone, facile execution, and chaste feeling, that all that could be said on the subject would convey a faint idea of the impression it produced on the company. It brought forcibly to the recollection of all present the witchery of his brother's violin, and the plaudits between each variation must have been gratifying to that gentleman.

"THEATRE ROYAL", Geelong Advertiser (11 March 1852), 2

The amusements at this place are spiritedly maintained. Good houses seem to reward the indefatigable exertions of Mr Deering to adorn rational amusement for the people. This, with the masterly manner in which Mr. Wallace (brother of the author of Maritana) conducts the musical department, renders the Geelong Theatre second to none in the colonies, in point of interest or talent.

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (19 April 1852), 2

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (14 May 1852), 2

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (14 June 1852), 2

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (14 July 1852), 3

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (31 July 1852), 2

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (16 August 1852), 2

"DIED", Geelong Advertiser (17 August 1852), 7

On Sunday, August 15th, Mr. S. W. Wallace, late of the Theatre. The death of this celebrated musician will he a considerable loss to the musical circles of these colonies. Mr. Wallace was brother to the composer of the popular opera of Maritana.


Not surprisingly, several later accounts confuse S. W. Wallace with his more famous brother; there is also some confusion with his father, Spencer senior; after his brother left Sydney, Wellington is referred to occasionally both as "Mr. S." and "Mr. W"; by the early 1840s he appears to have set upon "S. W." as his preferred styling, though again at Geelong in 1842, he is usually "Mr. S."; he is once referred to in a press report as "Spencer Washington Wallace".


"THEATRICAL AND MUSICAL NOTES", Otago Witness (22 September 1898), 47

THE AUSTRALIAN STAGE - the following letter appeared in a late issue of the Sydney Town and Country Journal: - Sir, - In your issue of August 20 I notice in your "Answers to Questions" columns a paragraph stating that Vincent Wallace is said to have composed "Maritana" when living in a house in Castlereagh street, Sydney. I have no doubt this is correct. I am certain he was in Sydney at that time; that is, in 1844 to 1845 or 1846. He was one of the musicians in the orchestra of the old Victoria Theatre, and Mrs. Wallace was one of the stage performers at the same time. As far as my memory serves me, Mrs. Guerin was the first "Maritana," the two Brothers Frank and John Howson playing with her, and John Gibbs, the leader of the orchestra. My first recollections of the Victoria Theatre go back to when Mr Thos. Sims was manager. That was in 1842 or 1843. After him came Mr. Lazar; then John Gordon Griffiths, the best all-round man I ever saw on the stage. I can recollect Mr. Coppin singing his first "Billy Barlow " and old Mrs Gibbs, the wife of the leader of the orchestra, the "Grand Fancy Ball," composed just after one of the - if not the first - mayor's fancy dress balls. I was only a youngster then, but with both Mr. Vincent Wallace and his wife I was a favourite, and seeing his name in your paper brought home pleasant old recollections. - Yours, etc., W. T. P."

WALLACE, Caroline (Miss GREEN; Mrs. S. W. WALLACE; Mrs. BATTERS)

Soprano vocalist, actor

Married Spencer Wellington Wallace, St. James's, Sydney, 4 November 1841
Departed ? Sydney, 28 June 1849 (per Star of China, for California)
Died ? California, USA, March 1850 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Caroline Green was described as "late of Pitt-town" when she married Spencer Wellington Wallace at St. James's Church Sydney on 4 November 1841. She made her first appearance at the theatre at her husband's benefit on 16 December, singing Rodwell's cavatina I seek her on every shore and Lover's song The Magical Maydew. She next assisted her sister-in-law Eliza Bushelle at her concert in February, singing the Rodwell song again with "orchestral accompaniments", with Bushelle in Blangini's duet Near to the Willow, and additionally with John Bushelle in Cimarosa's "Grand Quarrelling Trio". According to the Gazette:

Mrs. Wallace astonished us by her excellent singing, recollecting as we did, her far from successful debut three months ago. This lady has improved wonderfully since that period, and reflects infinite credit upon whoever instructed her, for instructed she must have been, which was very apparent in her being repeatedly and most enthusiastically applauded  nem. con. This was especially observable in that splendid song "I seek her on every shore".

Early in March, it was reported that the Bushelles and "Mrs. Wallace" (clearly Caroline) had been engaged at the Victoria Theatre, and with Eliza as Julia Mannering, she made "her first appearance in character" as Lucy Bertram in Bishop's opera Guy Mannering at the end of the month. Duncan in the Chronicle judged: "The character of Lucy Bertram by Mrs. Wallace, likewise a first appearance, was, considering that circumstance, decidedly good." She appeared as Fanny in Nagel's Mock Catalani in May. Among her later appearances at the Victoria was as the as "Fairy Queen (assuming the character of Alidor") in Rossini's Cinderella in March 1845. She and Spencer Wallace appear to have separated by the time he accompanied his sister Eliza Bushelle to Europe in March 1847. By 1848 she appears to have either married, or affected to be the wife of the Melbourne, and latterly Geelong actor Richard Batters. Certainly, in November 1848 she was billed at the theatre in Geelong as "Mrs. Batters (Late Mrs. Wallace)". She and Batters then sailed for California in June 1849. In June 1850, a correspondent for the Sydney Herald reported:

There are many smart young gentlemen of my Sydney acquaintance down here, not carrying "de fiddle and de bow", but the pickaxe and the hoe. We have some of your sons and daughters of Thespis arrived, and flourishing in all the majesty and glorification of sock and buskin. Nesbitt and his wife, under their own name of McCron, Mr. Hambleton and his wife, and the quondam Mrs. Wallace, under the euphonious appellation of Mrs. Batters, are astonishing the sympathies and purses of the San Franciscans.

But in July, the Herald also reported

Mrs. Wallace, formerly an actress at the Sydney Theatre, died in California in March last.


"MARRIED", The Sydney Herald (9 November 1841), 3

"THEATRE", The Sydney Herald (16 December 1841), 2

[Advertisement], Australasian Chronicle (16 December 1841), 3

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette (22 February 1842), 3

"BUSHELLE'S CONCERT", The Sydney Gazette (26 February 1842), 2

"Theatrical Chit-chat", The Sydney Gazette (3 March 1842), 2

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette (31 March 1842), 2

"THE VICTORIA THEATRE", Australasian Chronicle (2 April 1842), 2

"Theatricals", The Sydney Gazette (12 May 1842), 3

"Theatricals", The Australian (15 March 1845), 3

"ROYAL VICTORIA THEATRE", The Australian (18 March 1845), 2

[Advertisement], Geelong Advertiser (25 November 1848), 2

"THE PROTESTANT HALL", The Argus (6 February 1849), 2

"DEPARTURES", The Sydney Morning Herald (29 June 1849), 2

"CALIFORNIA", The Argus (3 July 1849), 1s

"CALIFORNIA", The Sydney Morning Herald (19 June 1850), 2

"MULTUM IN PARVO", The Sydney Morning Herald (27 July 1850), 5

"THE MELBOURNE STAGE IN THE FORTIES. By J. S. No. III.", The Argus (31 May 1890), 4 

... On the 27th of July [1846] a Mrs. Wallace made her most successful debut as a singer ever yet witnessed on our local stage. She has a voice of surprising compass, which she used with refined taste and great musical skill. In a word, she is pronounced to be "Melbourne's prima donna". I think this lady must have been the wife of Mr. [Spencer Wellington] Wallace who was at this time giving concerts in Sydney. He was the brother of Vincent Wallace, the composer of "Maritana", who came out to Australia for the benefit of his health about the year 1834 ...

KELLY family in Australia

WALLACE, Isabella (Miss Alicia Isabella KELLY; Mrs. William Vincent WALLACE)

Born Ireland, c.1815/16 (1814/15; 1813, Daingean, County Offaly)
Married William Vincent Wallace, 1832
Arrived Hobart Town, VDL
Departed Sydney, 1845 (for London)
Died ? Dublin, Ireland, 1900

WALLACE, William Vincent (junior)

Born Dublin, Ireland, August 1833
Died London, England, 31 December 1909 (? Holborn, October 1909)


"MUSIC AND MUSICIANS", The Australian (21 June 1845), 3 

We have had much pleasure in hearing that Mr. William Wallace, who some time ago delighted this Colony with his eminent skill on the violin and piano-forte, after having made the tour of Europe and America, is domiciled in London, enjoying the results of his professional labors. Mrs. W. Wallace, who remained in this Colony with her infant son, will proceed forthwith to join her liege lord.

"THE PROFITS OF OPERA", Nottingham Evening Post (16 April 1890), 2

Apropos of "Lurline," revived on Saturday night at Drury Lane, it will be interesting, says the Pall Mall Gazette, to learn, as illustrating how munificently our native composers were remunerated thirty years ago, that Vincent Wallace received from Pyne and Harrison the princely sum of 10s. for the entire rights of performing his opera in England. Wallace handed this to the wife of a carpenter who had been injured Covent Garden Theatre. The fac-simile ot the ten-shilling assignment may be seen in the British Museum. We have on authority of Vincent Wallace's son that Pyne and Harrison made £70,000 out of the first production of "Lurline," and that Cramer and Beale's large profits from the sale of the music enabled them to pension Fitzball, the librettist of the opera, for the rest of his life. Nobody seems to have thought of pensioning Vincent Wallace, or of making things comfortable for his belongings after his death.

"THE COMPOSER OF MARITANA. WALLACE'S WIDOW AND SON", The Brisbane Courier (10 January 1896), 6 

The following letter, under date 11th November last, is from William Vincent Wallace, of 1 Duke-street, Great Russell-street, E.C., addressed to the editor of the "Weekly Sun":

"I am the only son of Vincent Wallace, the composer. Though others made fortunes out of my father's works, he - like many a man of genius before him - died so poor that his publishers were good enough to bury him.

"As there was no more money to be made out of the dead composer (his posthumous opera being quite unfinished), my mother and myself were left unaided to fight the bitter battle of life as best we might.

"Mrs. Wallace had to depend on two elder sisters; and I (brought up without a profession - for my father would not let me learn a note of music) had to turn to whatever offered, passing from tutorships to private secretaryships, and drifting finally into journalism.

"Of late, I regret to say, we have fallen upon evil days. Since the death of both my sisters, my mother (now in her eighty-second year) has been left with wholly inadequate means of support, while I, her only son (sixty-two), through ill-health and the collapse of the journal I was sub-editor of for some years past, am placed hors de combat and rendered powerless to help her.

" To make bad worse, any father's old friends have died off, and, as far as I know, we seem, unfortunately for us, to have outlived them all.

"The old order has changed, and the new knows us not, for a great German wave has passed over the world of Music, driving poor Melody - with both her fingers in her ears - before it. And yet there is an astonishing vitality left in some of the old stuff which refuses to be snuffed out. For instance, the 15th of the present month is the jubilee anniversary of evergreen "Maritana," first produced at Drury-lane, 15th November, 1845.

"During the intervening half-century my father's simple ballad opera has been played innumerable times at home and abroad.

"It has delighted hundreds and hundreds of thousands of unpretentious admirers of melodious music, and has put money into many pockets, but, mirabile dictu, during all those years not a single performance has ever been given for our benefit, although we have had sore need of it.

"In Australia, New Zealand, and the other British colonies - as well as in America - it has been played times out of mind, but we have not received from the Antipodes a penny piece of the thousands due to us for fees, owing to an extraordinary "Statute of Limitations" of one year, which has allowed us to be robbed with perfect impunity, not only abroad, but at home.

"Will not some of the generous-hearted people of these islands show some consideration for the widow and son of a composer whose melodies are known wherever there as a cultivated English speaking home, the wide world over?"

"The Musical World", Australian Town and Country Journal (4 April 1896), 35 

Musical people resident in Sydney and elsewhere, in the colony of New South Wales will be pleased to learn that, on the recommendation of Mr. Balfour, a grant of £200 from the Royal Bounty Fund has been given to Mrs. Wallace, the mother of Vincent Wallace, jun., and wife of the well-known and world-renowned composer of "Maritana" and other operas. The "Magazine of Music" for January gives a resume of some particulars respecting the fortunes and condition of the Wallace family, which will be read with interest ...

Other Kelly sisters and descendents

"MARRIED", The Colonist (3 March 1836), 7 

MARRIED. At Sydney, on Thursday, the 25th ult., by the Rev. Dr. Lang, James Cromarty, Esq.; Commander of the ship James Pattison, to Miss Charlotte Kelly.

[Isabella WALLACE's elder sister Charlotte KELLY, also a bounty passenger on the James Pattison.]

"MARRIED", The Australian (25 February 1841), 3 

MARRIED. On the 20th instant, at St. Mary's Cathedral, by the Rev. Mr Murphy, Julia Marie, eighth daughter of David Kelly, Esq., of Frescati's Black Rock, Dublin, to Michael Browne, Esq., of the Royal Engineers, Sydney.

[Isabella WALLACE's sister Julia, mother of Annie de MEURANT.]

"Married", The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (6 May 1854), 3 

Marriage. At St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, by special license, on the 26th of April, by the Rev. John Gourbeillon, O.S.B., Francis Leigh Riley, Esq, eldest son of Mr. John Riley, Maitland, and nephew of Thomas Lyon, Esq, M.D., Liverpool, to Marcella Clara, youngest and ninth daughter of the late David Kelly, Esq., of Frescati House, Black Rock, Dublin, and grand niece of Sir Thomas Esmonde, Bart., M.P.

[Isabella WALLACE's sister Marcella KELLY.]

"MARRIAGES", The Sydney Morning Herald (13 August 1857), 1 

On the 10th instant, at the Roman Catholic Church, West Maitland, by the Very Rev. Dean Lynch, and afterwards by the Rev. W. Curney, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Mr. John Augustus Riley, tailor and professor of music, brother of Francis Leigh Riley, Esq., resident apothecary of the Maitland Hospital, and second son of Mr. John Riley, tailor, to Harriet, relict of the late Edwin Hinchcliffe, of the Staffordshire Ware and Glass House, and second daughter of J. Hazel, Esq., formerly of Ship Quay-street, Londonderry, Ireland.

"MARRIAGES", The Sydney Morning Herald (2 December 1870), 8 

MULLIGAN - DEMMERENT - November 9, at St. Mary's Cathedral, by the Rev. Patrick J. Mahony, John Joseph Mulligan,to Annie, only daughter of the late J. Demmerent, Esq., of Paddington.

"DEATHS", The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (31 December 1881), 1092 

RILEY. - December 21, at her late residence, 55, Rosebud-terrace, Paddington, Marcella, the wife of Dr. Francis Leigh Riley, aged 68 years.

"GOLDEN WEDDINGS", The Sydney Morning Herald (9 November 1920), 8 

GOLDEN WEDDINGS ... MULLIGAN - de MEURANT. November 9, 1870, at the Cathedral, John Joseph Mulligan, son of Thomas and Alice Fox Mulligan, of Sydney, to Annie de Meurant, daughter of Arthur Richardson de Meurant (late Captain in the East India Service) and Julia de Meurant, of Paddington, and granddaughter of David Kelly, Esq, Frescati, Black Rock, Dublin and niece of Vincent Wallace, Esq., (musical composer).

MULLIGAN, Hilda May (Miss Hilda MULLIGAN; Mrs. BERRIDGE; Hilda May BERRIDGE; "Mrs. Hilda MULLIGAN")

Soprano, operatic producer, instructor and manager

Born Sydney, NSW, 1880 (daughter of John Joseph MULLIGAN and Annie de MEURANT)
Died Centennial Park, Sydney, NSW, 2 November 1967, aged 87


Mulligan was frequently described in the press as a grand-daughter of Eliza Wallace Bushelle; and she may well have been informally "adopted" as such. She was, however, directly related only to Vincent Wallace's wife, Isabella Kelly.


"MUSIC", The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (21 December 1901), 1565 

Miss Hilda Mulligan, a Manly vocalist still in her teens, was introduced to the Sydney critics last week at a small invitation concert at the rooms of the Professional Musicians' Association. The young lady (a grandniece of Vincent Wallace), is the possessor of a promising soprano voice of power and wide range (2 1/2 octaves). She is untrained, but evidences natural passion and feeling. Four songs were sung (Tosti's "Good-bye" being the best rendered), and Miss Mulligan was warmly applauded by a friendly audience. At the conclusion Mr. E. C. V. Broughton, M.L.A., made a few complimentary remarks from the platform about the young vocalist. Miss Mulligan hopes to leave shortly for Europe with the view of having her voice trained ...

"MUSIC AND DRAMA", The Brisbane Courier (27 December 1902), 9

Miss Hilda Mulligan, a relative of Vincent Wallace (a granddaughter of Madame Wallace Bushelle), who has a particularly brilliant and powerful soprano voice, has had much encouragement from Melba, who heard her in Sydney. The diva has given Miss Mulligan a helpful letter to Madame Marchesi.

"MUSIC AND DRAMA", The Brisbane Courier (18 May 1907), 13 

Miss Hilda Mulligan, a young dramatic soprano, who left Sydney about four years ago, and has lived on the Continent until lately, has got an engagement with the Moody-Manners Opera Company to understudy leads. If report is to be trusted, Miss Mulligan was a granddaughter of the late Madame Wallace Bushelle of Sydney, who was a sister of Vincent Wallace, the composer of "Maritana."

Bibliography and resources:

Collins 2001, Sounds from the stables, 86, 135

[86] ... [Sydney Conservatorium under Bainton] ... but the most important initative in the voice area came from the creation of a permanent School of Opera at the Conservatorium. This was launched in 1935 with the vital assistance of Roland Foster as general organiser and Hilda Mulligan as producer. Though Bainton took most of the kudos for this development, the minister for education believed that the credit really belonged to Hilda Mulligan, who had lobbied since the 1920s. Mulligan had extensive operatic experiemce in Italy, Germany and England and claimed Puccini among her vocal coaches. She also toured South Africa with her own company and had the decided advantage of owning such a large collection of costumes that the Conservatorium was able to stage its operatic productions for a remarkably modest cost ...

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2018