From the seventeenth century the Seymour-Conway family owned estates in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, the rents from which by the early nineteenth century provided the major portion of the enormous income of the Marquesses of Hertford.
Both the 3rd and 4th Marquesses paid little attention to their Irish estates, the 4th Marquess visiting Lisburn only once in his lifetime, briefly in 1845. Sir Richard Wallace on the other hand took his responsibilities as a landowner very seriously. In February 1873, after his selfless behaviour during the siege of Paris had made his name famous throughout Britain and France, he made a celebrated visit to Lisburn, where he and Lady Wallace received a tumultuous welcome.
Sir Richard became Member of Parliament for Lisburn in 1873 and served as MP until 1884. He became the principal benefactor of the city, paying for the improvement of water supplies as well as the building of Assembly Rooms, a court house (now demolished) and a school, which survives as Wallace High School. Wallace also employed the architect Thomas Ambler, who had remodelled Hertford House for him, to build a house in Lisburn, Castle House.
Wallace had hoped that his son Edmond would take up residence in Lisburn, but this was not to be and Castle House was only rarely used. After his death in 1890, the citizens of Lisburn erected a magnificent monument to Sir Richard Wallace in Castle Gardens, where one of two Wallace fountains in the city may also be found. Wallace’s name lives on elsewhere in Lisburn, in Wallace High School, Wallace Park and even in a recently opened shopping centre, Wallace Colonnades.