The Personal Diary Entries of William Herbert Wallace

Personal diary entries written by Wallace, courtesy of Ronald Bartle, John Gannon and Roger Wilkes.

These diaries were not written to be read or published, but they were made use of in court and after his death. At court the police had four diaries from 1928 to 1931, presumably one for each year. In each diary Wallace had written his height, weight and age, as well as his glove, hat, and coat size.

Few pages were left blank, and yet few pages have been made public. Sadly I believe these diaries are now lost.

7 January 1928: A reference is made to a “falling out” with Julia where he was upset with her for buying too many newspapers.

(Actual text unknown).

19 December 1928: Bamber points out how Parry wants watching in insurance work.

31 December 1928: Off with bronchitis. Parry does work for a fortnight but is not methodical enough.

28 May 1929: Christian service – what is it all about?

13 February 1929: On the way home with — had a discussion on religion. I find he is, like myself, indifferent to the dogmas and rituals of the churches and chapels, and agree that if there is a hereafter the man without any so called religious beliefs, and a non-church attender, but who lives a decent life, and who abstains from telling lies, or cheating, or acts of meanness, and who honestly tries to do good, has as much chance of getting there as the professed Christian who attends his place of worship regularly.

20 March 1929: Listened to ‘The Master Builder’ by Ibsen. This is a fine thing, and shows clearly how a man may build up a fine career, and as the world has it, be a great success, and yet in his own mind feels that he has been an utter failure, and how ghastly a mistake he has made to sacrifice love, and the deeper comforts of life in order to achieve success. Curious that Julia did not seem to appreciate this play! I feel sure she did not grasp the inner significance and real meaning of the play.

9 September 1929: At four o’clock Julia and I left for home, but getting lost we had to return to Settle, so that it was five o’clock before we really got away. The roads were crowded with cars, and at Clitheroe all cars were being held up for inspection of licences. Probably the police were trying to comb out in order to get some line on the motorist who ran down a police constable on the previous Thursday leaving him to die in the road. If they get him, I hope he gets ten years hard labour for his callousness.

25 March 1930: Julia reminds me today it was fifteen years ago yesterday since we were married. Well, I don’t think either of us regrets the step. We seem to have pulled well together, and I think we both get as much pleasure and contentment out of life as most people. Our only trouble is that of millions more, shortage of £ s d.

24 October 1930: Police stated that this entry contained a “reference to mental trouble”, but the actual text was not given.

26 October 1930: No one has had any knowledge of a previous existence. If I previously existed as a thinking organism I probably argued much as I do now, and now that I am here, I recognise clearly that immortality means absolutely nothing to me. Any individuality I possessed formerly has gone. So, too, when I pass out of this existence, individual mortality is meaningless, unless I am able to retain something of my present, and that fact that my previous existence is now meaningless argues that the next existence also has no meaning for me. So why worry about a life hereafter which has no meaning for me.

6 November 1930: The tournaments (chess) are now up, and I see I am in class three. This about represents my strength of play. I suppose I could play better, but I feel it is too much like hard work to go in for chess whole heartedly, hence my lack of practice keeps me in a state of mediocrity. Good enough for a nice game, but no good really for first class play.

31 December 1930: On arriving home, found that Julia had not returned. I waited until nearly 1 a.m., then thinking something surely must have happened, went off to the Anfield Road police station to see if there was any report of any accident to hand. None. So went back home and found that she had just turned up. It seems a laundry van had been smashed up on the railway line, the train derailed, and the line blocked. Julia waited at Southport Station until after ten o’clock and she had apparently no hope of getting a train she decided to take a bus. She arrived in Liverpool at 12.30 and reached home at 1. It was a relief to know she was safe and sound, for I was getting apprehensive, feeling she might have been run over by a motor car or something.

(This diary entry was corroborated. On that evening Wallace had gone to the police station, and Albert Wood, a prudential colleague of Wallace, had been told of the story by Julia when he visited their home shortly after).

4 January 1931: Work out some definite scheme of study of properly planned and rigorously adhered to each particular difficulty consistently tackled and overcome.

(Alleged reference to violin practice. Clearly poorly written whatever the meaning, I believe it to mean: “Work out some definite scheme of study, properly planned and rigorously adhered to, with each particular difficulty consistently tackled and overcome.”)

7 January 1931: A night of keen frost. The heavy fog caused a wonderful appearance on all the plants and trees. Every twig and leaf was most beautifully bordered and outlined with a white rim of frost. Holly leaves, owing to their wavy edges, presented a most charming appearance, and I cannot recollect an occasion on which the hoar had produced such wonderful effects. After dinner I persuaded Julia to go into Stanley Park, and she was equally charmed. A gradual thaw seems to be setting in now.

(According to newspaper reports, despite having remained unemotional throughout most of the trial, Wallace wept in court as this entry was read).

14 January 1931: Reading very interesting book by J Lays published in 1889.

(Wallace has made a mistake, the author’s name is J Leys (John Kirkwood Leys)).

17 January 1931: Had a slight attack of flu all day and did not do my usual collection. Prevention is better than cure. Steeped my feet in mustard and hot water followed by a cupful of whisky and hot water.

18 January 1931: Have not touched fiddle all day. It is unusual to let Sunday go by without some practice.

(During the trial, police also refer to a statement on this day that mustard worked wonderfully for his flu.)

[ 21 January 1931: Julia Wallace is murdered in her home at 29 Wolverton Street. ]

16 May 1931: Left Walton for Pentonville guarded by officers. Had to submit to handcuffs which were not taken off until I was safely in Pentonville. A taxi took me up the Lime Street platform, I had only a few yards to cross to the reserved carriage with drawn blinds. Even so it had obviously leaked out, as there were a number of railway officials and some of the public present. Strange how this morbid curiosity draws people, who, if they only reflect must know it is a torture to the person under observation. Going down in the train I was greatly impressed by the green and wonderful beauty of the country. I had seen little but high walls and iron barred windows for about sixteen weeks, and it was something to cheer me, and take my mind off the grim horrors of my position. The officers did their best to make me comfortable.

Entering Pentonville was a melancholy ordeal The prison is grim and forbidding and I felt despondent and depressed beyond measure. Here again was that never ending jingling of keys — symbols of despair had they become. I was searched, and then re-clothed and marched off to the condemned cell. I was a prey to the deepest dejection. I had little hope that my appeal would succeed. I knew if my appeal was dismissed my chance of a reprieve was slight.

18 May 1931: Day of my appeal, Off to court at 10.30. Handcuffed but in my own clothes. At 11 am I was called to appear, and once again I faced the court. This time my position was undeniably grave. After five hours the court adjourned and I was taken back to Pentonville.

19 May 1931: After the close of counsels’ speeches the Lord Chief Justice said their Lordships would retire for a short while to consider their decision. I was taken out of court into the corridor behind and there for about an hour I paced two and fro, alternately hopeful and depressed. It was a terrible strain. Freedom or death awaited me, and I had become insensible to all other considerations. Minute after minute passed by and I now began to think that the long wait was in my favour, in contrast to the long wait at the Assizes when I felt the delay was against me.

At last their lordships returned and I was again taken into the dock. The court was hushed to an almost uncanny silence. No one moved nor a paper rustled. The very breathing of all there seemed suspended. After what seemed an eternity of time the Lord Chief Justice began to deliver judgement. I could not follow all he said, my mind lost all receptiveness and all I remember is that my obsession to betray no emotion was as strong as ever. Tensely I waited, oblivious to all but that slow, dreadfully slow utterance of the Lord Chief Justice. I could not grasp all he said, my brain refused to function. It was as if I was suspended in space and detached from everything. Slowly, slowly went on the voice, miles away as it were, and then I heard the Lord Chief Justice end by saying: The Court allows the appeal and the conviction of the court below is quashed?

Was it true or were my ears mocking me? Immediately there began a buzz, and the beginning of a cheer, instantly suppressed. Then I realised I had won, and that I was free.

[ William Herbert Wallace is acquitted and released as a free man. ]

6 June 1931: My dear Julia is seldom out of my thoughts, and now I am on my own I realize the fight I am going to have in this battle against loneliness and desolation. Julia, Julia, how can I do without you! The anguish in my soul rises up and distils itself in tears which not all my resolution can hold back. Little did I ever think that grief and sorrow would so utterly unman me, and, yet, I must fight it down. Nothing can bring her back, nothing can undo the past. Even if he who did that foul deed is caught it cannot bring consolation to me. The only consolation I can find is in the thought of our happy Life, and the realization that she at any rate did find a large measure of happiness and content in her life.

15 June 1931: I think I must definitely abandon the idea of returning to a Liverpool agency as the ill-feeling against me is evidently stronger than I expected.

16 June 1931: Find all the neighbours up against me. They are the rottenest crowd I ever struck. Mean and paltry brained. I feel it a wicked insult to Julia. How she would have scorned the whole thing!

25 June 1931 (Wallace considers moving to a bungalow in Bromborough): My dear Julia would have absolutely revelled in this house and garden, and it hurts me to realize that this is her long wanted house, and now she is not here to enjoy its peace and beauty. A thousand times more than ever do I wish she could share it with me. What joy she would have had in that lovely garden! What wonderful happiness and content would have been hers! And now all is gone, and if I take this house as I feel I must, my happiness and peace in it will ever be tinged with sadness and regret.

[ Wallace did take this house. ]

28 June 1931: Met old ——. The pompous old ass evidently did not want to speak to me, and after passing the time of day drew into gaze in a shop window. Shallow but common artifice… I suppose this feeling against me will probably persist for some time and I may never really live it down. Well, after all, so long as I know I am innocent why should I worry?

25 August 1931: Quite a fine experience this morning. As I was going to catch my train I passed a man, and to my great surprise he said – ‘Good morning Mr Wallace,’ and introduced himself as a Mr ——. He had heard of my coming to live in Bromborough, and, believing me to be an innocent man, desired to be friends. It was a kind action for which I am immensely grateful. To know that I am not an object of scorn and suspicion to everyone is something. And to go about feeling that one is shunned by nearly everyone is a terrible ordeal, and though I try to fight it down and ignore it, the whole business depressed me beyond words. Perhaps, after a while I may get immersed in some new hobbies to take my mind off the terrible tragedy. What I fear is the long nights. But, perhaps the wireless will help me to overcome the desperate loneliness I feel.

8 September 1931: The last few days I have been depressed thinking of my dear Julia. I’m afraid this will be a very lonely winter for me. I seem to miss her more and more, and cannot drive the thought of her cruel end out of my mind.

14 September 1931: Just as I was going to dinner, Parry stopped me, and said he wanted to talk to me for a few minutes. It was a desperately awkward position. Eventually, I decided not to hear what he had to say. I told him I would talk to him someday and give him something to think about. He must realize that I suspect him of the terrible crime. I fear I let him see clearly, what I thought, and it may unfortunately put him on his guard. I wonder if it is any good putting a private detective on to his track in the hope of something coming to light. I am more than half persuaded to try it.

6 October 1931: I cannot disguise from myself that I am dreadfully nervous about entering the house after dark. I suppose it is because my nerves are all so shattered after the ordeal, and this, together with the recurring fits of grief and anguish over my dear Julia’s end make me horribly depressed and apprehensive … Left to myself I am for ever trying to visualize what really did happen. Although I am convinced Parry killed her, yet it is difficult to get proof. It would be a great relief if he could only be caught, and the foul murder brought home to him.

25 November 1931: Julia is never far out of my thoughts. The sadness and sorrow at her absence is still very real with me, but I suppose I am now accepting the inevitable. Nothing can ever bring her back, and however much I want her, or however much I miss her loving smiles and aimless chatter, I realise that life is insistent and demands first attention…

I seem unable to concentrate on the violin. I think it is because it carries too many poignant memories of those happy hours we spent together. Every time I handle the pieces of music she loved and played so delightfully, memories crowd in upon me until I am compelled to put the fiddle down. Music has its delights, but it also brings great oceans of sadness, which sometimes overwhelms, and brings up torrents of tears for utterly hopeless longings. So I must carry on to the end in sadness and sorrow.

20 March 1932: There are now several daffodils in bloom, and lots of tulips coming along. How delighted dear Julia would have been, and I can only too sadly picture how lovingly she would have tended the garden. Today I have been very much depressed, full of grief and tears. Julia, Julia, my dear, why were you taken from me? Why, why should this have been so? It is a question to which I can get no answer, and I must fight this dread feeling of utter loneliness as best I can. Black despair! When shall I be able to find peace!

31 March 1932: Got —— book on ——. I see I am included in the list of great criminals. The thing is too hideous to think about. I, who could not have hurt any living thing, I am supposed to have most brutally murdered Julia – Julia who was the whole world to me, my only companion with whom I could have trusted my life. If there is a God in Heaven, why, oh, why! Has she solved the great mystery of the beyond, or is it utter extinction? Does she know how I grieve for her, or is it the end? I am tortured by doubts.

12th April 1932: A reference to the garden.

(Actual text unknown).

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