Select Allen Miscellany

Here are some Allen stories and accounts over the years:

Alanus de Buckenhall

Old histories have recorded: 

“About the time of Henry III Alanus had land in Staffordshire, from whom all the Allens of this country do pretend to derive themselves.” 

This chronology would place him in the 13th century.   Alanus was reported to have held the lordship of Buckenhall at that time, as well lands at Brookhouse, Garrishall, and Cotterfeter.   His son was said to have taken the family name of Alleyne which later became Allen

Dr. John Allen and His Inventions

Dr. John Allen of Bridgewater in Somerset was a noted early 18th century physician and writer on medical matters.  He also turned his attention to some interesting inventions. 

Brice’s Weekly Journal of Exeter reported in 1727: 

"Dr Allen, a noted physician of Bridgewater, has invented and perfected a chariot which goes on steel springs and is drawn by two horses.  Having a door behind, it will hold four persons beside the coachman.  It is not liable to be overturned, but will travel with a pair of horses sixty miles a day with as much ease as a common chariot with six can, carrying the same number of people."  

In 1730 he had letters patent granted him for three inventions:  the navigating a ship in a calm; the improvement of an engine to raise water by fire; and a new method of drying malt.   His scientific mind got him admitted to the Royal Society in 1732.   he died in 1741.

Allans in Scotland

The Alan name became popular in Scotland by its frequent use in the family of the Stewarts.  Alan, son of Waldeve, witnessed charters by King David I in 1139.  Subsequently it appeared regularly in old Scottish records.  Alanus the brother of Galfridus Redberd, for instance, witnessed the sale of a tenement in Perth in 1219. 

Many of the MacAllans, Allansons and Allans who settled in Aberdeenshire were descended from the son of a MacFarlane chief who had migrated there when his clan was proscribed in the 16th century. Some sons of the chief of clan Grant also took the Gaelic surname MacAilean which eventually converted to Allan.  Many of similar names who settled in the Lowlands were descended from Clanranald Macdonalds

The Allens of Gelliswick

According to family legend the Allens came originally from Ulster and had arrived in Wales in the early 17th century when one Thomas Allen was literally washed up in Pembrokeshire after a shipwreck.  They first appeared in the historical record in the mid-17th century when William Allen took on the lease of Gelliswick. They remained tenants at Gelliswick until 1808 when the Allens acquired the freehold at Rickeston. 

Gelliswick House was an L-shaped house consisting of a tall five bay single-pile block with a rear staircase projection of three full storeys above the cellars, with an earlier five-bay Elizabethan house retained as a service wing.  The Allens who lived at Gelliswick were: 

  • firstly William Allen (1624-88)  
  • then his son, William Allen (1658-1722)  
  • then his son, William Allen (c.1678-1744) 
  • then his son, Joseph Allen (1726-98)  
  • and finally his son, John Allen (1752-1808).  
Gelliswick House survived until 1980 when it was demolished by Esso Petroleum.

Arthur Allen and Bacon's Castle

Bacon's Castle in Surry county, built in 1655, was originally the home of a prosperous planter, Arthur Allen, and his family. 

Following Allen's death the house was inherited by his son, known as Major Allen.  A loyalist supporter of the colonial government and member of the House of Burgesses, Major Allen was driven from his house in 1676 by followers of the patriot rebel Nathaniel Bacon whose uprising later came to be known as Bacon's Rebellion.  The episode later gave Bacon's Castle its name though the house remained in the Allen family until 1844. 

Bacon's Castle, which has been maintained to this day, features distinctive triple-stacked chimneys and curved Flemish gables.  It is one of only three surviving high-style Jacobean structures in the Western Hemisphere and is the oldest datable brick house in Virginia.   A reconstructed garden replicates what was on site during the lifetime of Arthur Allen and his son.

The Alleyne Line in Barbados

Reynold Alleyne (pronounced “Alleen”), son of the Rev. Richard Alleyne and his wife Christian, left his home in Kent and ventured to Barbados in 1630 at the tender age of 21.  In 1651 he allied himself with the Cromwellian forces there against the King’s supporters.  During the fighting which followed he was hit in the throat by a musket ball and died of his wounds.  

His great grandson Sir John Alleyne became Speaker of the Barbados House of Assembly in 1767 and was made a baronet two years later.  Sir John’s grandson, also Sir John, was Warden of Dulwich College in the 1840’s, a position reserved for those who held the Allen name. 

Sir John’s uncle Abel had left Barbados due to poor health in 1739 and settled in Braintree, Massachusetts. There his family was to remain for three generations until Thomas Harbin Alleyne returned in 1802.  Dr. Francis Alleyne, born in Barbados in 1884, has a line of seven children, 39 grandchildren, and more than 75 great and great great grandchildren.

Shy Ben Allen in New Brunswick

The story is told that in 1771 Benjamin Allen was at a New Year's Eve dance in Fort Cumberland, New Brunswick.  He was apparently extremely shy, hence his nickname "Shy Ben."

That night, after suitable liquid fortification, he went to the center of the dance floor and said: "I am in dire need of a wife! Who will have me?"

Up stepped a hearty lass of German descent, Sarah Somers, who said "I'll have you, Ben!"

The happy couple were married on the spot by a minister who happened to be in attendance. It is said that any pugnacious tendencies in the Allen female descendants can be attributed to Sarah.

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