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The Allens of Greenwich.
(page 1 of 2)

< Click to enlarge family history chart: seven generations of Allens.

An ancestor earch, the story so far, written 2000 by Alf Allen

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Part one: who is the real William George Allen?...

The search for my ancestors really began when I saw an advert in a heraldry magazine, in about 1982. A firm in Canterbury specialised in carrying out family history research, so I wrote to them to enquire.My interest in Coats of Arms took a back seat while I exchanged correspondence with my researcher: I passed to him what little detail I had about my father and in return I received periodical reports of what the researcher found in the London record offices.In a remarkably short time I received copies of my father's (John Alfred Allen) and grandfather's (John Stephen Allen) birth certificates, followed by a transcript of the 1881 census return for No. 3 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, showing my great-grandfather's (William George Allen) whole family in residence. After this, the pace slowed down; we discovered that my great- grandfather (a master Lighterman on the river Thames) had been one of two boys (both of them named William George Allen) who had served their apprenticeships together.My researcher made several trips to London in an endeavour to find which of the two boys became my great-grandfather, but the task became more complicated when he discovered there were at a given time several Allen families living in the same part of Greenwich, some in the same road and even in the same house, who were not apparently related to one another. Most of them had Lighterman or Waterman connections.

At this stage, when the exercise was becoming too costly to continue, I decided to do my own researching. Over the next few years I joined four different family history societies and corresponded with many of my fellow members. I also made trips to some record centres in London and bought several books on family history and genealogy. My main task was to trace the families of the two William George Allen boys. I did this with the help of Lightermen and Watermen apprenticeship records; baptism records; birth, marriage and death certificates and various census returns, etc.Further complications arose when I discovered that the two boys in question were born only eight months apart and were baptised in the same church within four months of each other, both of the boys fathers were named William Allen and both fathers were Lightermen or Watermen. To add to this confusion, their apprenticeship records show that each boy served his time under his master, named as William Allen, and there was no indication as to whether the master was the boy's father or not!
Mike says: This gets REALLY complex, so pay attention please!
Apprenticed William George Allen was a master Lighterman and a member of the Watermen's and Lightermen's Guild. The apprentices affidavit books and apprentice binding books are today held at the London Guildhall library. Searches of these books show that one of the boys (a) born 7th July 1827, served his time from 14 July 1842 until 9th August 1849. His freedom certificate was signed by his master William Allen, whom I now assume was his father. The other boy (b) born 2nd March 1828, served his apprenticeship from 9th June 1842 until 11th April 1850. His freedom certificate was signed by Sarah Allen, widow of his master, William Allen. It would therefore appear that boy (b) was my great-grandfather. To confirm this, I obtained a copy of the death certificate of the William Allen who was married to Sarah and found the following:
William Allen of 2 Woodland Street, Greenwich died on 18th March 1850, aged 61, occupation pilot. His daughter, Adelaide Augusta Allen was present. A further search of baptismal records at St. Alfege church, Greenwich, found the family of William & Sarah Allen. They had seven children:

This shows that *boy (a), William George Allen, was the son of William Allen, Waterman, who later became a river pilot and was NOT my great-grandfather. The same William Allen was almost certainly the master of both boys when serving their apprenticeships.It therefore follows that my ancestral family is William Allen and Martha Allen (née ?).

Click here to go to the family tree. According to the baptismal records at St. Alfege church they had 3 children:

This William George Allen was my great-grandfather. Further into my investigations I was able to obtain a copy of the 1901 will of my great-grandfather, and to my surprise I discovered, when I compared it to the 1881 census return, that a name was missing from the will. It was that of my grandfather, John Stephen Allen. On the 1881 census he was shown as a Lighterman's apprentice, aged 19, but in 1901 when his father died he was not mentioned in the will. I subsequently discovered that he had died in 1895 at the age of 33.

Mike says: I've since found out that William & Ann's eldest daughter, Mary Ann Jane Allen, also did not feature in her father's will, having pre-deceased her father by some sixteen years. My dad was not aware of her, and I wasn't until very recently - my thanks to Ron Brasington, whose wife is the great-grand daughter of Mary Ann Jane Allen.

I will thus start the story with William George Allen because he has been the key figure in my research.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Text by Alf Allen 1999. Edited and spell-checked by Mike Allen 2003.
Most photos taken by Alf and most illustrations drawn by him; scanned from his albums, etc., now in my possession and digitally edited 2003-2005.
Yes, yes, the photos and layout need updating - the website was first designed in "dial-up days", before any sort of broadband, and everything had to be small so it uploaded and downloaded fast. Work to do, I know.

Website produced 2003-2013 by Mike Allen - a fatuous platitudes production.

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