The name Wallace derives from Wallensis, meaning ‘Welshman’. In Scotland however, this refers not to someone from Wales but to someone from the Britons of Strathclyde, who in the 12th Century, still spoke Welsh.
The word or name Wallensis is itself derived from an old Saxon word meaning ‘foreigner’, a tag given originally to the Volcae, the Celtic tribes of Northern Germany, by invaders from Scandinavia in around 500BC. The invaders generalised the Volcae’s name to volca, meaning foreigner or stranger, a trend that continued when the German-based Saxons invaded Britain in the 5th Century. They called the indigenous Celtic tribes, whom they fought, killed, enslaved or displaced, walha, which over time also became their term for ‘others’ or even ‘inferiors’. The indigenous Celts were forced out of the rich lands of England they’d inhabited for centuries and pushed further and further west into what is now of course Wales.
Wallace, of course, is a name deeply significant to Scotland’s past. William Wallace, Scotland’s great patriot and warrior, was a descendent of one Richard Wallensis, a vassal of Walter the Steward, the first High Steward of Scotland (whose, incidentally, great, great, great grandson, also Walter, married Robert the Bruce’s daughter, Marjory, and started the Stewart (Stuart) dynasty). Wallensis owned land in the west called "Richard’s Town” or Riccarton. Richard’s grandson, Malcom, inherited lands at Elderslie and had two sons there, Malcom and William. William of Elderslie grew up to be Scotland’s national patriot and started the 14th century’s wars of independence that culminated in Scotland regaining her sovereignty when Robert the Bruce defeated the English at the great Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
William Wallace was born between 1274 and 1276, in the reign of Alexander III. When Alexander was tragically killed after falling from a Fife cliff in 1286, it left his grand-daughter, Margaret, the Maid of Norway, as his sole descendent (both his sons had died young). Alexander’s daughter, also Margaret, had married the king of Norway, and their seven-year-old daughter inherited the throne. But when the young princess died in Orkney on her way from Scotland from Norway in 1290, so too did the direct line of Scots' kings, sparking a struggle between various claimants, the most notable of whom were John Balliol, Lord of Galloway, and Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick.
Disastrously, Edward of England was invited to adjudicate on the various claims. He promptly followed his predecessors' claims of Lord Paramount of Scotland and selected Balliol as king. Things didn't go well after that, to put it mildly, and eventually Edward subsumed Scotland into his reign and invaded. It was then that Wallace emerged as first a guerrilla fighter and later as de facto leader of the Scots. He, and his compatriot, Sir Andrew Moray, routed the Edward’s army at Stirling Bridge, restored Scotland’s independence for a while, enabling trade to resume, although the wars of and battles with the English continued. Wallace, as most of us know, was betrayed and executed but the wars of independence continued under the leadership of Robert the Bruce until, in 1314, Bruce’s forces defeated the English under Edward II at Bannockburn.
Wallace left no sons or daughters and the line ended with his and his brother’s deaths. But there are other notable descendants of Richard Wallensis, who also had estates at Craigie. In 1699, Hugh of Craigie was created Baronet of Nova Scotia! Robert Wallace of Kelly, served as MP for Greenock between 1833 and 1845 and was instrumental in the postal reforms that led to the introduction of the penny post.
The Wallace tartan was one of the first tartans recorded in Vestiarum Scoticum, the somewhat discredited book of tartans created by the Sobieski Brothers in the 18th Century. The tartan is a symmetrical sett (pattern) woven around a pivot point in the sett. At the pivot point in the sett the second half is a mirror image of the first.
The threadcount gives the weaver information on how to set up the threads on the loom, so the threadcount for Wallace Modern is 6 threads of black, followed by 48 threads of red, followed by 48 threads of black, followed by 6 threads of yellow. Threadcounts are written as a code, with various letters representing colours. For Wallace Modern, the threadcount code is K6R48K48Y6, with the letter ‘K’ denoting black.
The types of Wallace tartan generally available are: Modern, Ancient, Weathered and Hunting.
Interestingly, it appears that Wallace once wore Maclean tartan! In his Old and Rare Scottish Tartans, DW Stewart records that the tartan was once known as MacLean and Wallace.CrestMottoPro libertate (For Liberty)