Born 1803 at Lorton near Cokermouth, originally apprenticed to a Whitehaven firm of sugar refiners and on its failure attempted to succeed as an artist. Married Elizabeth Lonsdale, from Liverpool, in 1832 in which year he commenced on a two year voyage taking in the Pacific Islands and west coast of America on a ship captained by his half-brother in law. Whilst on this voyage collected many specimens etc which he used as the basis of a Museum opened 4th May 1835 in Great George street (now Nelson street) Douglas. Quite why he saw Douglas as the best place to establish this museum is not clear - the shilling admission charge brought in little income and in 1836 Wallace went into partnership with John Penrice (printer of the Manx Sun) to produce the Manx Liberal. In Pigot's Directory of 1837 he is also noted as agent for Douglas Gas Company.
Soon ran into problems with other Manx papers especially with the Manx Advertiser (editor Bedford) which he accused of plagarism.
His paper was well produced (in my opinion having researched the Manx press for the Mormon missioning it was the best) - it was edited from the rooms above the museum which he constantly plugged until he finally gave up and closed the museum in 1842. On closure he despatched his wife, three children and the 7000 item collection to a specially built museum at the family home at Distington, Whitehaven, where it remained until disposal by auction in 1899. Legal problems with the sale of his share in the Manx Liberal required him to remain in Douglas until 1849 as the partnership between Wallace and Penrice was not dissolved until 3 May 1849. Penrice continued the Liberal until around November 1850 - his printing press etc was sold by the coroner in March 1851.
He would appear to have been associated with the Roman Catholic church as on 5 Oct 1837 is noted the baptism of Mary Wallace daughter of Joseph Ritson Wallace and wife Eliza.
Willian Cannell gave following description in his guide :
The " Liberal" is the property of, and is printed by Mr. J. R. Wallace, the proprietor of the Museum, in Great George Street; its principles are what its title represents Liberal, PROFUSELY Liberal. If we are to be guided in our judgment by the editorial articles in that paper, we must infer that the proprietor is decidedly hostile to a monarchical Government, and not remarkable for his support of the Holy Scriptures.
It is possibly his Catholic connection, which would have made him an outsider in Douglas affairs, that was the cause of Grellier's 'Infidel Philiosopher' remark.
W. Cubbon Bibliography of works relating to the Isle of Man Vol II section L4 Douglas:1939
Report of lecture (by H. Fancy) Joseph Ritson Wallace - The Infidel Philosopher IoMVicSoc Newsletter #53 p4/6 Sept 1999