Captain Dennison Wallis was born in Ipswich in 1756 and raised in Danvers (now Peabody). Wallis joined the local minutemen as they gathered at the Old Bell Tavern (image below), at the corner of Washington and Main Streets, on April 19, 1775.

From there, the local minutemen marched to Lexington and Concord. They engaged with British soldiers at the Village of Menotomy (now Arlington) as the British retreated from Lexington to Boston. Outnumbered, the Danvers men hid in the house of Jason Russell. Once they felt it was safe, they left the home. Wallis was with Joseph Bell and George Southwick. They were ambushed by the British soldiers. Wallis was shot at least 13 times. He survived by pretending to be dead. In January 1776, he applied to the Legislature for aid from wounds he received at Menotomy and was given compensation.

After the war, Wallis was a privateer and assisted in the capture of a British transport. Professionally, he was a tanner, who worked on what is today Wallis Street (so named in 1843). He lived in a three-story brick building at 94 Main Street, between what is today the Peabody Institute Library and the Knights of Columbus building, as seen above circa 1900.

He left an endowment for a school in District #1, which ultimately led to the Wallis School on Sewall Street being named on his behalf.

Photograph of the Wallis School, 1901-1902

Dennison Wallis died in Danvers (now Peabody) on August 16th, 1825 and was buried at the Old South Burial Ground. The inscription on his stone reads in part:

“A Citizen, Enterprising, Industrious, Benevolent, Honest and Patriotic. A friend kind and obliging. A man not without his frailties and who is without them? But in the main honorable wise & virtuous.”


Municipal History of Essex County, ed. Benjamin Arrington, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1922, pages 559 and 819.

Wells, John. The Peabody Story. Essex Institute, 1972, pages 212-219.