There are two theories about the origins of the Wallaces. The modern "Wallace" is derived from the Middle English "Waleis," taken from the ancient "welisc," meaning "foreigner."
The first theory postulates that the family traces its descent from the Strathclyde Britons, a mixture of Gaels, Picts and Celts.
The second theory holds that the family came to Britain from Brittany via Wales as part of the Norman conquests of England and Scotland in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Regardless, the accepted progenitor (founder) of Clan Wallace was Richard Wallace (Riccard Wallensis), who witnessed a charter at Paisley Abbey in 1163. A decade later Richard received feudal lands from Walter FitzAlan, later the High Steward of Scotland, himself the progenitor of the Stewart Dynasty.
In the decades that followed, the Wallaces became part of an emerging
Scottish gentry, acquiring lands at Riccarton, Craigie, Cairnhill,
Cessnock, Kelly and Elderslie.