Lehigh County Historical Society.

Proceedings and papers read before the Lehigh County Historical Society online

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he sat, when before him pleaded the gifted fathers of that illus-
trious bar."

At the same time he continued in business and from 1756
until the Revolution was a representative from Cumberland
county in the Assembly. His city residence was on King (now
Water) street, adjoining his wharf and stores, the property being
about seventy-six feet in breadth and his stables and coach
house being across the street and on the east side of Front. About
1750, he established his country seat at "Mt. Airy," a mansion
with forty- seven acres beyond Germantown, since owned by the
late James Gowen.

Keith's "Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania," from which
we quote largely, says, "In 1765, being owner of 3370 acres in
Northampton county, he laid out the town of Northampton,
afterward called Allentown."

The date here is an error, as the town was laid out in 1762.
In proof of this, herewith is exhibited a photographic copy of
the original plan of Allentown, from the original in the posses-
sion of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, to which it was
presented by Brinton Coxe, Esq., September 13, 1886. . The plan
bears the following inscription, "Northampton Town. Surveyed
by Order of William Allen, Esq., 1762."

The lands in Lehigh county of which William Allen became
the owner were part of a tract of five thousand acres granted
to Thomas Penn by warrant dated May 18, 1732, assigned the
same day to Joseph Turner, and sold by Turner, September
io» i735> to Allen. Portions of this tract were surveyed from
time to time, ranging in date from October 9, 1735, to October



25

28, I740- The tract which included Allentown was originally
surveyed for Joseph Turner, November 23, 1736.

That William Allen had already in 1753 built a log house
on his land is proven by the draft of a road surveyed in that
year, by David Schultze, from Kaston to Reading, on which
"Allen's House," is mentioned. Here Judge Allen frequently
came for recreation and sport, bringing with him relatives and
friends from Philadelphia, among them John Penn and James
Hamilton. This log building stood nearer the Jordan than the
later building, about where Jordan street now is, facing Union
street. Its foundations were still in existence when Jordan street
was opened, about 1845, and were then removed. From the
diary of James Allen it appears that the second building was
not built until 1770. This was a two-story stone house, about
forty-five feet square, its rooms wainscoted with walnut, with
a park on the north side, and a beautiful lawn on the south
side. A stone wall extended along Walnut street from Fifth
to Jordan street. In later years, when the residence of Walter
C. Livingston, it was called the "Livingston Mansion."

Although a politician often leading a faction greedy for
office, Allen was throughout life a man of large public spirit,
thinking of the needs of the colony, giving his influence, his
time and his pecuniary aid for its advancement. He was a large
contributor to the Pennsylvania Hospital, to the College of which
he was one of the original trustees, and to the expedition in search
of the North West Passage.

Governor Thomas, writing to the Bishop of Exeter, on the
23rd of April, 1748, relative to some funds the Bishop had raised
to aid the German Palatines, says, "If I might be permitted
to advise, the money raised for this purpose should be lodged
in a safe hand in London, subject to the draft of Mr. Wm. Allen,
a considerable merchant, and a very worthy honest gentleman
of Philadelphia, that he might see it regularly apply'd to the
uses intended."

Allen also assisted Benjamin West, the painter, in his early
struggles. There is still preserved, among the Chief Justice's
descendants in England, a splendid picture by West, of a fam-
ily fete in the grounds of Governor John Penn's magnificent
seat of "Lansdowne," upon the Schuylkill, which contains por-
traits of the Governor and his wife, Ann, the eldest daughter
of Allen, of all the Allen family, and of West himself. The latter
was present on the occasion, and the beautiful, joyous scene so
impressed him, that he painted the picture to preserve its remem-
brance, and presented it to the Governor, saying as he did so,
"that he had never executed a better painting." These facts
were told Mr. E. F. DeLancey by Mr. John Penn Allen, the
Governor's nephew, one of the twin sons of Andrew Allen, when
showing him the picture at his home in London in 1867.



26

Besides the money for the Gouldney mortgage and the pur-
chase of the State House grounds, Allen advanced on one occa-
sion a good part of the tax payable by the Proprietaries under
a bill proposed for raising revenue, there being a deadlock between
the Lieut. Governor and the Assembly, the former pressing for
money for military uses and not feeling free to consent to a law
which taxed the Proprietary estates, and the Assembly refusing
to vote the means of defence unless the taxation were agreed to.
The gentlemen of Philadelphia made up the sum which it was
estimated would have been due from the Proprietaries and the
Assembly passed the necessary money bills.

Samuel Foulke, in his Diary, tells us that when Sir Wiiiiam
Johnson's conduct in connection with the Indian treaty of 1762
was criticised in the Assembly, "Ye Judge bellowed forth such
a torrent of obstreperous jargon as might have been heard in a
still morning to ye Jersey shore in vindication of Sir William's
conduct, in which combat he was extremely chafed, and his
lungs so exhausted that he left the house and appeared no more
this year."



Coat-of-Arms and Crest of Allen Family.

Nevertheless in the Assembly and in the City corporation,
Allen was active not merely in carrying out the views of a party,
but in promoting objects of general utility; and as Chief Jus-
tice, Mr. DeLancey tells us, he gave his services gratuituously,
receiving his salary (£120 yearly) only to appropriate it to char-
ities.

During his visit to England in 1763, he achieved a victory
for all the American colonies in regard to the bill in Parliament
for taxing them. A letter from London to the Pennsylvania
Gazette, dated March 24, 1764, says, "The 15th Resolution relat-
ing to the Stamp Duty, will certainly pass next session, unless
the Americans offer a more certain duty. Had not William Allen,
Esq., been here and indefatigable in opposing it, and happily
having made acquaintance with the first Personages in the King-
dom and the greatest part of the House of Commons, it would
inevitably have passed this Session."



27

With other prominent citizens and followed by his three
eldest sons, Allen joined the American Philosophical Associa-
tion soon after its resuscitation.

He was a great friend of Benjamin West, but a strong hater
of Benjamin Franklin, and after the latter attained celebrity,
spoke of him as "that Goliath." He charged him with playing
double on the stamp act while in England. It was natural anti-
pathy; Allen belonged to the wealthy, office holding cotorie,
whom Franklin had supplanted in public favor; Allen in time
became the father-in-law of Penn; Franklin the leader of the
populace; Allen was a merchant prince inclined to nepotism
and exclusive; Franklin was a satirist and a leveller. In the
contention preceding the Revolutionary War, Allen, his family,
and his friends sided with the Colonies; and, in October, 1775,
he went so far as to donate a quantity of cannon shot to the
Council of Safety, which body "returned thanks for his generous
donation;" but he was anxious to maintain union with Great
Britain, and labored as a member of the Assembly for that end.

In 1774 he published a pamphlet of seventy- two pages in
London, England. A copy of this very rare pamphlet is in the
Congressional Library, and the title-page reads as follows: "The
American Crisis: A Letter, addressed by permission to the Earl
Gower, Lord President of the Council, etc., etc., on the present
alarming Disturbances in the Colonies Wherein various impor-
tant Points, relative to Plantation Affairs are brought into Dis-
cussion; as well as several Persons adverted to of the most dis-
tinguished characters, and an Idea is offered towards a complete
Plan for restoring the Dependence of America upon Great Brit-
ain to a state of Perfection. By Wilham Allen, Esq., London:
Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1774."

In 1897 Mr. L. Burd Walker published copies of and extracts
from letters of Allen taken from his letter book which contains
copies of 187 letters from 1753 to 1770. This book fell into the
hands of Edward Shippen, later became the property of Edward
Burd, from whom it descended to Mr. Walker. We quote fur-
ther on from this book, and only mention now two entries, one,
on December 3, 1761, when he writes that he had "returned
from the Back Country where I had been trying some criminals,"
and the other on June 29, 1762, when he says, "At Easton at
an Indian treaty, and have a smart fit of gout."

He resigned the Chief Justiceship in 1774. He was in his
seat in the Assembly in the month of June, 1776, when, Ban-
croft says, "John Dickinson promised him before the house that
notwithstanding the recall of the instructions to that effect, he
and his colleagues in Congress would continue to vote against
Independence." After the fourth of July, Allen seems to have
kept quiet, and he may have been out of town when "disaffec-
tion" was taken note of by the new government.



28

E. F. DeLancey says that not long before his death he went
to England. He may have gone abroad in 1776, and returned
during the British occupation of Philadelphia. He was in the
city on October 10, 1778, when a pass was granted to his daugh-
ter Mrs. DeLancey to visit him there with her small children.
His will was dated April 26, 1769, and witnessed by Edward
Shippen, Jr., the Councillor, and Townsend White and Nathan-
iel Allen. In view of the death of his sons, John and James,
and in order to protect his property from the operation of the
attainder of his other sons, he executed in the presence of Town-
send White, John White and Blair McClenachen a codicil bear-
ing date December i, 1779, in which he devised John's, James'
and Andrew's shares to their respective children, and William's
share to James Hamilton absolutely. He moreover freed all his
slaves.

In the early part of 1780, the American army needing horses,
those of the "disaffected" were seized first and Allen lost four.
On June 8 following, "for divers good causes and considerations,"
he deeded to Edward Shippen, Jr., and Tench Coxe, all his mes-
suages and lots within the city square bounded by Arch, Sassa-
fras, Second and Third streets, reserving to himself an estate
for life.

It is frequently stated that Chief Justice Allen died in Eng-
land, but recently facts have come to light which prove that
he died at his country seat at Mt. Airy. This is proven by a note
occurring in the "History of Bethlehem," by Bishop J. M. Lev-
ering (1903), which quotes the following extract from a letter
written by Rev. Daniel Sydrich, the Moravian pastor in Phila-
delphia, to Bishop Nathaniel Seidel, of Bethlehem, September
12, 1780: "Wednesday, the 6th inst., good old William Allen
departed this life quite unexpectedly at his country seat Airy
Hill (Mt. Airy) and his body was buried here the next day."

From the accounts of David Evans, cabinetmaker, of Phil-
adelphia, from 1774 to 181 1, we find under date of September
7, 1780, "Est. Wm. Allen, Late Chief Justice, making his coffin
of mahogany with plate, horse hire and attendance on the corpse
from Mount Airy, ^^13."

He died on September 6, 1780 (Tilghman's Estate, 5 Wh.
44). On the loth Jasper Yeates, writing from Lancaster to
Col. Burd, says, "By a letter received from Mr. Parr in Phila-
delphia we have advice that old Mr. Allen is gone to his long
home. Poor gentleman. He is at length happily removed from
all his troubles."

On the 1 6th of the month his will and codicil were proved
in Philadelphia by the oaths of all the witnesses except Nathan-
iel Allen, who was deceased.

William Allen had four sons and two daughters who grew
to maturity:



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John Allen, born about March, 1739.

Andrew Allen, born about June, 1740.

James Allen, born about 1742.

Anne Allen, who married John Penn.

William Allen, born about 1751.

Margaret Allen, who married James DeLancey.

John Allen, the eldest son, was a student at the College
of Philadelphia, which he entered May 25, 1755; began the study
of law under Tench Francis at Philadelphia, but finished at the
Temple, in London. He was elected a Common Councilman of
Philadelphia at the beginning of the Revolution; was a mem-
ber of the Committee of Inspection and Observation for the
city and Liberties; and was a delegate to the Provincial Con-
vention of New Jersey in 1776, but was opposed to Independ-
ence. In December, 1776, he put himself under the protection
of the British army under Gen. Howe. The act of confiscation
of 1778 required him to surrender himself for trial for high treason
before the 20th of April following. His death February 23,
1778, before the act was passed, saved his estates. He was
married in New York, April 6, 1775, to Mary, daughter of David
Johnston, of New York. His children were William and John,
twins, born in 1776. John Allen lived near Red Hook, N. Y.,
and died in 1809. The elder, William, died in 1850. He married
a Miss Verplanck, and lived at Fishkill Point, Hyde Park, N. Y.
Hon. Francis A. Channing, M. P., of 40 Eaton Place, London,
England, is his grandson.

Andrew Allen, the second son, was born in June, 1740. He
was educated at the College of Philadelphia, since become the
University of Pennsylvania, which he entered May 25, 1755,
and from which he graduated in 1759 with his brother James,
William Paca, of Maryland, afterwards a Signer of the Declar-
ation of Independence, Samuel Powel, afterward Mayor of Phil-
adelphia, and some six others, the second class which proceeded
from the institution. He then studied law under the direction
of Benjamin Chew, at the time Attorney General, and about
July, 1 76 1, went abroad to finish his education at the Temple.

Returning home almost exceptionally well educated, Andrew
at once took the position in the community placed at his hand
by the social and political influence of his father. He was ad-
mitted to practice in the Supreme Court, April 20, 1765. The
corporation of Philadelphia chose him as a Common Council-
man in October, 1768. On the resignation of Mr. Chew, he was
appointed Attorney General of the Province and held that office
until the Revolution, about seven years. He was invited to a
seat in the Provincial Council by his brother-in-law, John Penn,
qualifying December 24, 1770.

In May, 1774, he was sent by the Council with James Tilgh-



30

man to Virginia to induce the Governor of that colony to unite
in a petition to the King for a settlement of the boundaries.
He was appointed Recorder of Deeds of Philadelphia, June 25,
1774, serving until 1776.

About this time, the dispute with Great Britain on the sub-
ject of taxing the colonies became the all absorbing topic, and
Allen was in unison with the popular feeling to prepare for resist-
ance.

He was one of the founders of First Troop, Philadelphia
City Cavalry. On November 2, 1774, some twenty-eight citi-
zens, who, it is said, had often met for fox hunting, formed them-
selves into this company of Light Horse. They were all men
of substantial means, who had something at stake in the fate
of their country, and who needed not pay to keep them in the
field. Some of them were representatives of the elite, and others
afterwards attained such prominence in public affairs as shed
lustre on the organization; but at that time Andrew Allen was
the most distinguished man among them.

The officers first chosen were: Captain, Abraham Markoe,
(formerly of the Danish Island of St. Croix); ist Lieutenant,
Andrew Allen; 2nd Lieutenant, Samuel Morris (previously Sheriff
of Philadelphia county) ; Cornet, James Mease, etc. The com-
pany after serving at its own expense throughout the war which
ensued has since maintained perpetual succession and is now
commonly known as the ist City Troop.

Allen may be presumed to have favored the compromise
suggested early in 1775 by the British House of Commons; viz.,
any colony to vote a proper supply and in consideration to be
excepted from each act of Parliament taxing America; for he
was present at the meeting of the Provincial Council which com-
mended it to the favor of the Assembly. This compromise was
not accepted; being addressed to the colonies separately, instead
of through Congress, it asked them to desert each other. It
was, probably, however, Allen's influence as much as John Penn's
incapacity and love of quiet which kept the Penn government
from taking a forcible stand against the Whigs.

Allen was one of the Committee of Safety appointed by
the Assembly, June 30, 1775, for the defence of the Province;
and he was appointed one of the delegates to the Continental
Congress. When, however, after active service on the Committee
and in Congress, he saw that the latter body was only making
ready to declare Independence, he withdrew from the cause.
He resigned from the Troop in April, 1776, and after June 14,
1776, no longer attended the meetings of Congress, although
had he been present on the ist and 2nd of July, he could have
prevented the vote of Pennsylvania being given for Independ-
ence. His last public office was burgess from Philadelphia to
the Assembly, which he was chosen in May, 1776, running as



31

a Moderate, or one in favor of reconciliation with England.
There were four to be chosen, and the vote stood: Samuel
Howell, 941, Andrew Allen, 923, George Clymer, 923, Alexander
Wilcocks, 921, Thomas Willing, 911, Frederick Kuhl, 904, Owen
Biddle, 903, Daniel Roberdeau, 890, Clymer was the only one
elected of those wished for by the advanced Whigs,

These figures show how evenly divided was the populace
on the question of Independence. Its advocates, some of the
voters having gone to the war, could not get a majority over
a good conservative ticket, although Galloway's statement that
not one-fifth of the people desired Independence is evidently
wrong as to Philadelphia at least.

Christopher Marshall says in his diary: "I think it may
be said with propriety that the Quakers, Papists, Church, Allen
family, with all the Proprietary party, were never so happily
united as at this election, notwithstanding the Friends' former
protestation and declaration of never joining with that party
since the club or knock down election of 1742. Oh! tell it not
in Gath, or publish it in the streets of Askalon, how the testi-
mony is trampled upon!"

After the Declaration of Independence, Allen attached him-
self to the British army and was with it at its entry into Phil-
adelphia. In March, 1778, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed
an Act of Attainder against him, in consequence of which much
of his property was sold. The treaty of Peace prohibited any
future confiscations, and provided that any persons could come
to the United States and remain twelve months unmolested in
their endeavors to obtain restitution. Allen went to England
about the close of the War, but visited Pennsylvania in 1792
and remained a few years. The treaty of 1794 with Great Brit-
ain provided that British subjects holding land in America, or
American citizens holding land in England should with their
heirs and assigns hold and dispose of the same as if natives,
and that the United States make restitution for losses occa-
sioned by the non-payment of debts to British subjects con-
tracted before the Peace, to be ascertained by commissioners
to be appointed. He endeavored without success to collect the
money paid to the state on his land contracts. He seems to
have resided afterwards with his daughter, Mrs. Hammond.

He died (Gent. Mag.), March 7, 1825, in Montagu street,
Portman Square, London, aged 85. He married, April 24, 1768,
Sarah, eldest daughter of William Coxe, alderman of Philadel-
phia, by his wife, Mary, daughter of Tench Francis, Esq., Attor-
ney General of Pennsylvania. William Coxe was a son of Col.
Daniel Coxe, Chief Justice of New Jersey.

Mrs. Allen was called "the beautiful Sally Coxe," in Phil-
adelphia. Their children were:

Andrew, founder of the Anchor Club, in Philadelphia. Brit-



32

ish Consul in Boston. Died without issue at Clifton, near Bris-
tol, England, December 3, 1850. He married Maria, daughter
of Charles Coxe, of Sydney.

Ann, who died unmarried.

Elizabeth, who died unmarried.

Margaret, who married May 20, 1793, i^ Philadelphia, George
Hammond, the first British Minister to the United States. He
was for some time Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
He died in Portland Place, London, April 23, 1853, aged 90.
Mrs. Hammond died December 8, 1838.

Maria, who died unmarried.

John Penn, born October 25, 1785. M. A. (Univ. Oxon.),.
died unmarried.

Thomas Dawson, born October 25, 1785. M. A. (Univ.
Oxon.). Rector of North Cerney, Gloucester. Died without
issue. Married August 26, 1840, Jane, widow of Rev. E. C.
Henry, and daughter of E. H. Mortimer.

Anne Allen, daughter of William Allen, married May 31,
1766, John Penn, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, son of
Richard and grandson of William Penn. He was born in Phil-
adelphia in 1728, from which circumstance he was called the
"American Penn." He was Governor of the Province from 1763.
to 1 771, and also from 1773 to the end of the Proprietary govern-
ment in 1776. He continued in the country during the Revo-
lution, and, in 1777, having refused to sign a parole, he was
confined by the Whigs at Fredericksburg, Va. Governor Penn
died at the country seat of Andrew Allen, in Berks county^
February 9, 1795.

William Allen, fourth son of William Allen, was born about
1 75 1. He became a Lieutenant Colonel of a Pennsylvania regi-
ment, January 4, 1776, and at the breaking out of the Revolu-
tionary War served under St. Clair, but after the Declaration
of Independence resigned his commission and joined the British.
In 1778 he raised a company called the Pennsylvania Loyalists,
and with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel was the commanding
officer. Sabine's "American Loyalists" says: "From the
influence of his family and from his personal standing, he expected
to make rapid enlistments, but was disappointed. At the Siege
of Pensacola, where one of the men who attempted to desert
received the crudest punishment, a shell was thrown into the
door of the magazine as the men were receiving powder, and
forty-five of this regiment were killed and a number wounded.
In 1782, and near the close of the contest, though still in ser-
vice, the Pennsylvania Loyalists were of but little consequence
in point of numbers." He was very witty, affable, and of remark-
ably fine manners, and as much a favorite with his officers and



33

men as he was in society. It was of him, and not of his father,
the Chief Justice, after whom he was named, of whom it was
said, when he resigned his command under Congress to that
body, that he did so, "not because he was totally unfit for it,
but because the Continental Congress presumed to declare the
American states free and independent, without first asking the
consent and obtaining the approbation of himself and wise fam-
ily." He was included in the Act of Confiscation of March,
1778, and after the war lived in England. He died unmarried,
in London, July 2, 1838, aged 87 years.

Margaret Allen, daughter of William Allen, died at Tun-
bridge Wells, England, October 18, 1827. She married at Shrews-
bury, N. J., August 19, 1 77 1, James DeLancey. He was born
in 1732; graduated at Cambridge, England; was aide de camp
to General Abercrombie at Ticonderoga; and represented New
York city in the Colonial Assembly. He died at Bath, England,
April 8, 1800. He was the leader of the Conservative or " DeLan-
cey Party" in the Province down to the end of British rule.
He was the eldest son of James DeLancey, Chief Justice and
Governor of New York, and his wife Anne, daughter of Colonel
Heathcote, of New York.

James Allen, the third son of William Allen, and the one
in whom we as residents of Allentown are most interested, was
born about 1742. He entered the College of Philadelphia with
his brother Andrew, May 25, 1755; graduated in 1759; studied
law with Shippen, the Provincial Councillor; and in July, 1761,
went to London, England, to complete his law studies at the



Online LibraryLehigh County Historical SocietyProceedings and papers read before the Lehigh County Historical Society → online text (page 3 of 32)