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The Allens of Greenwich.
(page 2 of 2)

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

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

Part two:
William George Allen, my great-grandfather, 1828 - 1901

At this stage (written 2000) I still have to search into the early childhood of William George, but I do know that his parents were William Allen, a Lighterman, and Martha (maiden name not known) and his grandparents were William Allen, a labourer, and Mary.

William George Allen was born in Greenwich, south London, on 2nd March 1828 and baptised at St. Alfege church on 30th March 1828.

His family lived at Roan Street, Greenwich. He was aged fourteen when he took his Lighterman's apprenticeship and bound to his master, William Allen on 7th June 1842 (remember, this was not his father). He was freed from his apprenticeship on 11th April 1850, aged 22, and the freedom certificate was signed by Sarah Allen, widow of William Allen.

William George had a sister, Martha Ann Allen, born 31st May 1830 at Bridge Street, Greenwich and a brother, John Cole Allen, born 3rd July 1839 at Thames Street, Greenwich.

William George Allen was married on 12th March 1849 at the parish church of St. Paul in Deptford to Ann Blackmore, who was the daughter of Arthur Blackmore, a Waterman.
The marriage certificate gave their details as William George Allen, (full age) bachelor, Lighterman, and Ann Blackmore (minor) spinster.

At the time of the 1881 census, William George was living with his wife and family at 3 Crooms Hill, Greenwich. They were listed as follows:

Mike says: As stated earlier, William and Ann also had an elder daughter, Mary Ann Jane Allen, born 18/04/1851.
By the time of this Census, she was married and living at 21 Guilford Road, Greenwich with her husband, children, a servant and a boarder; hence why she is not on the list above. She died in 1885, aged 34, before her father and was thus not mentioned in his Will (see below).
My thanks for this information go to Ron Brasington, whose wife is the great-grand daughter of Mary Ann Jane Allen.

In 1992, a friend kindly took some photographs for me of some buildings in Greenwich with which this family would have been associated.
Mike says: I don't have these photos, unfortunately.

On the 22nd January 1897, my great-grandmother, Ann Allen (née Blackmore), died at the family home at 128 Greenwich Road, Greenwich. She was aged 65, and her husband, William George Allen, was present at her death. She had had eleven children between 1855 and 1881, the last one, Annie, being born after the 1881 census was taken.

On the 4th January 1898, William George, now aged 69, married for a second time. His new wife was Agnes Pembridge, aged 36 and a spinster, daughter of Charles Pembridge, plumber. Her home had been 39 Northbrook Road, Lee. She had a sister, Clara Pembridge and later gave birth to William Allen Pembridge outside of marriage.
Mike says: This paragraph amended 2009 to take into account information about Clara, who my father thought was Agnes' daughter, but was corrected by Janette Price, the great-granddaughter of W. P. Allen. Thanks!

On the 4th July 1901 William George Allen made his will and appointed his son, Frederick George Allen, his wife, Agnes Allen and a Mr William Fletcher as executors to the will.

William George Allen died an the 8th July 1901 at his home at 128 Greenwich Road, Greenwich, aged 73. His death certificate stated that he was a barge owner.

He bequeathed his house at 128 Greenwich Road and the residue of his property to his wife Agnes, along with 500 £1 shares in his business known as William George Allen and Sons Ltd., Lightermen.

In a codicil to the will, dated 5th July 1901, it was directed that the 3000 shares for William Allen Pembridge should be held in trust and the interest go to his wife towards the maintenance and education of the boy while he was under 21.
Mike says: I make this a total of 8000 £1 shares in the business of William George Allen & Sons Ltd., which seems to me to be a substantial sum in 1901. According to sources such as Measuring Worth, £8000 is equivalent to anything from £650,000 to £3,000,000 in 2009, dependant on the measure used.

In the will, William George also stated that he desired to be buried in the grave of his first wife, Ann, at Shooters Hill cemetery.

In June 1992 1 received the following information from the Docklands Museum in London.

  1. William George Allen & Sons Ltd, Lightermen, were registered barge owners No. 546. The company address was 16 Great Tower Street, London, EC4, later Billingsgate Wharf, Greenwich. The eldest son, William Thomas Allen, was a director of the company and there were no other directors. The company operated a fleet of over seventy open and decked lighters and barges between 1898 and 1910, many of which were sold to other owners from 1900 to 1910.

  2. William Pembridge Allen, trading as W P Allen, was registered barge owner No. 117. His address was 68 Royal Hill, Greenwich. He owned only one barge between October 1908 and March 1909, when it was sold. This man was the youngest son of William George Allen, mentioned in his will as being born before marriage, his "real" name being William Allen Pembridge.

  3. Agnes Allen, barge owner no. 1647. Her address was 128 Greenwich Road, Greenwich and she owned three barges between 1899 and 1903, when they were all sold.

There were no other Allen barge owners on the Thames after 1910.

Since the discovery of the will of William George Allen, a search was made for his grave, and this was found in Shooters Hill cemetery, Greenwich. The inscriptions on the gravestone proved to be very helpful.

As we suspected, my grandfather, John Stephen Allen, died before his father's will was made out. He was the first person to be buried in the family grave. The inscription reads:

"In loving memory of John Stephen, the beloved son of William George and Ann Allen of Greenwich, who died 6th October 1895, aged 33 years.

Also of the above, Ann Allen, the devoted wife of William George Allen, who died 22nd January 1897, aged 66 years. Gone but in heart and memory ever present.

Also of the above, William George Allen, the devoted husband of Agnes Allen, who entered into rest the 8th July 1901, aged 73 years. Peace, perfect peace. Gone but not forgotten.

Also in loving memory of Agnes Allen, the beloved wife of the above, who died 2nd September 1904 in her forty-first year. Weep not for me, dear sister, nor sorrow take, but love my child for my sake".

The inscription on the kerb at the foot of the grave reads: "W G Allen of Greenwich, barge owner".

A second plot at the side of the grave has just a flat slab bearing the inscription: "The family grave of W G Allen". The grave is apparently empty.

Having found the above information, my dad asked me to use the internet to post the following and to receive emails on his behalf:

"I am seeking information on, and any descendants of, William George Allen & Sons Ltd., Lightermen of Greenwich, circa 1850-1900".

He added the note to me:
Dear Mike,
I think the above few words will be enough to get things started for the "Kent list". By all means reshuffle it if necessary.
I've decided not to pursue the search for the "Sun" public house for the moment; I'm pretty certain of its location anyway and I was more concerned with its occupants, i.e. when and why my grandfather became licensee! I shall resume my research on that at a later date. Thanks a lot for your help.

Alf Allen (the reluctant Luddite)*
11th February 2000
* A reference to my chiding him about his inability to grasp using the internet to research his family history. But I bet, if he'd lived longer, he would have jumped at the opportunity once he'd understood it.

So where is the Sun Public House, Greenwich?

Mike says: I wish my dad had written down more about his search for the Sun public house in Greenwich, where his grandfather, John Stephen Allen, was publican/licensee, probably until his death in 1895, aged 33. I do know he believed it to be close to the site where the restored "Cutty Sark" now sits in Greenwich, but whether that was conjecture, I'll never know.

…oh, the web is a weird and wonderful place: in mid-2006 I came across this letter (scroll down to letters) from my Dad in 1999 to the Greenwich Industrial History Society…

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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.

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