When my youngest brother, Danny, was in school, he had to research our family names. When my grandfather discovered the meaning for the surname of Allen, he agreed with the description, for he maintained the Allen men were as strong as a rock and extremely handsome!
The earliest Allen, to date, recorded in my family tree settles upon my 8x great-grandfather, George Allen; this ancestor was born about 1568. To date, George’s actual place of birth is unknown; however, historians favored Dorsetshire, Leicester, or Somersetshire, England. To add to the controversy of this man, the names of his two wives were also shrouded in mystery although his second wife was named Katherine. In fact, historians and genealogists shared varying viewpoints on George’s wives and the identity of his parents.
As historians debated his parentage and even the names of the two women he married, some genealogists suggested his parents were Richard Allen and Margaret Leigh of London. Others believed it was Ralph Allen and Margaret Wyatt of Dorset while others thought his parents were John Allen and Margerie Hill of Somerset.
George Allen was married twice in England. His first wife’s name could not be accurately determined. However, his second wife was named Katherine, and she traveled with her husband to the colonies. Different sites listed different names. Some maintained her surname as Starkes and others as Watts or Davis.
David Allen Thompson, the author of George Allen Ralph Allen One Line of Their Descendants in New Jersey, concluded that George most likely owned the land he farmed in Somerset but probably was not associated with the nobility of the area. He also proposed that Ralph Allen of Leicester was the likely candidate of George’s paternity (4).
Still, history disclosed that George Allen, Katherine, and members of their family arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony on May 6, 1635. The family immigrated from England, departing from Weymouth on March 20, 1635. While the name of the ship was not discovered, the name of the man that led this party was Joseph Hull, a minister that was expelled from the Church of England for his liberal views. Over twenty families followed Hull to Wessaguscus, which was later renamed, Weymouth. Many left England for religious freedoms and to avoid persecution from the Church of England. Many of Hull’s followers were Anabaptists that believed in civil and political fairness.
In time, the family settled in Sandwich in the Plymouth Colonies. Since this man was a farmer by trade, he continued this practice once he arrived in the colonies. To add to his duties, George served as the constable of Sandwich, worked as a surveyor of highways, and worked as a juryman for the New Plymouth Court.
By 1637, George Allen, along with several others, joined together and bought land in Sandwich, along the north shore of Cape Cod. After the land purchase, he and other men from the area began to make plans to build a church in the township. Church membership was mandatory to obtain the status of a freeman. By 1639, Sandwich was incorporated, and George was given the status of a freeman in the New Plymouth Colony.
Most historians agree that George fathered at least eleven children, ten boys, and one daughter.
With first wife –
Samuel about 1599
John about 1610
Robert about 1614
Ralph about 1617
George about 1619
Rose about 1621
With second wife, Katherine
William about 1627
Matthew about 1629
Henry about 1631
Samuel about 1633
Gideon about 1635
This grandfather lived a long life of about eighty years and died on May 2, 1648, in Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts.
The family name Allen originated from Celtic surnames that began in the land of Scotland. The name represented several meanings, little rock, harmony, and handsome. Alternate spellings included Allen, Alan, Allen, Allin, Alin, MacAllen, Allenby, and Van Allen.
When my youngest brother, Keith was in school, he had to research our family names. When my grandfather discovered the meaning for the surname of Allen, he agreed with the description, for he maintained the Allen men were as strong as a rock and extremely handsome!
Postcard/Picture: By Boston Public Library – Flickr: The Arbella — Gov. Winthrop’s Flagship, The Pioneers’ Village, Salem, Mass., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22867395
- “Allen (Surname).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 May 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_(surname).
- Allen, William, and Joshua Allen. Genealogy of the Allen Family. Chronicle Book and Job Press, 1882, Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=m8TF5hcBSp4C&pg=PA5&dq=george+Allen+1568&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwilqNvG9vPiAhWHwVQKHezLCq0Q6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=george%20Allen%201568&f=false.
- Brooks, Rebecca Beatric. “History of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.” History of Massachusetts, 13 Aug. 2018, historyofmassachusetts.org/history-of-the-massachusetts-bay-colony/.
- Carleton, Hiram. Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 1. Lewis Publishing Company, 1903, Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=EmbLSJZgij4C&dq=george+Allen+1568&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
- Edmund West, comp. Ancestry, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001, support.ancestry.com/s/question/0D51500001vaPFbCAM/family-data-collection.
- Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 June 2019), memorial page for George Allen, Sr (11 Nov 1567–2 May 1648), Find A Grave Memorial no. 108606946, citing Pierrepont Manor Cemetery, Pierrepont Manor, Jefferson County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Tor Hylbom (contributor 48095585).
- “George Allen.” New England, The Great Migration and The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2013, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2496.
- “Plymouth Colony Timeline.” History of Massachusetts, 17 Nov. 2018, historyofmassachusetts.org/plymouth-colony-timeline/.
- Massachusetts, Applications of Freemen, 1630-1691, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=4296.
- North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2016, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61157.
- The New England Historical & Genealogical Register, 1847-2011, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2129.
- Thompson, David Allen. George Allen, Ralph Allen: One Line of Their Descendants in New Jersey, with Some Fragments of History. Weeds-Parsons Printing Company, Albany, NY, 1910, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005712929, catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005712929.
- Tichnor Bros. Inc. “The Arbella — Gov. Winthrop’s Flagship, The Pioneers’ Village, Salem, Mass.” Wikimedia Commons, 31 Dec. 2007, Boston Public Library, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page.