Robert Allan (1695? - 1769)

Thank you to the many people who have made their research available on the Internet, especially Wanda Smith Ballard who provided a large portion of the information reproduced here.

Genealogical particulars are on other pages in this website. This page includes:

From Historical Families of Kentucky, by Thomas Marshall Green, Clearfield Publishers, originally published 1889, Cincinnati.:

``During the reign of James VI of Scotland and of England, the four northern counties of Ireland were confiscated, the scottish subjects given the land for political reasons. Among these Scottish Presbyterians receiving lands in county Armagh, was the ALLAN family. Their descendants continued to live in county Armagh till 1736, when a James ALLAN was killed in an uprising against England. His widow and children, and his brothers Robert and John, came to the American colonies. They landed at Philadelphia, and lived for two years in Chester County, Pennsylvania. In 1738 they moved to Frederick County, Virginia, where Robert's family continued to live.''

Here are similar comments by the genealogist William D. Allen, including evidence that he was born before 1698:

``Robert came to America with his family and siblings. Accompanying them was the widow and children of another brother, James, who was killed in an uprising against the English King, James IV. ... They left Armagh county in Northern Ireland about 1736 for Philadelphia. They may have lived for two years in Chester county, Pennslyvania, and then emigrated to the Shenandoah valley of Virginia....
``[Robert] was instrumental in establishing one of the first Presbyterian Meeting House in Frederick county.''
``28 OCT 1758, Frederick, Virginia, At a courtmartial attended by Lord Fairfax and John Hite, et al, Robert requested to be discharged from future militia duty being above the age of sixty.''

Robert Allan's family suffered religious persecution in Ireland. His brother James was killed about 1735.

Other sources say his father was a James Allan from Scotland, also killed in a religious war.

Robert Allan (1695? - 1769) sailed with his family from Armagh, Eire to Philadelphia in 1736. In 1738 they joined the Jost Hite (Heydt) pioneers who founded the town of Winchester, Virginia. (A land grant is recorded May 21, 1742 for Robert Allen I, on the south side of Opecquon Run.) He was a part of the large ``Presbyterian Irish'' migration -- in 1739, for example, an extended Givens family migrated from Antrim to Augusta County, Virginia.

The mother of Robert's first four sons was Deborah Montgomery. After her early death, Robert married Samuel Givens' widow Sarah. Of Robert's two daughters, one married Samuel Givens' son (her stepbrother, in effect), the other married Samuel's nephew. In the two Descendancy Charts (the Allen chart and the Givens chart), I trace another five marriages between the descendants of Armagh Allan and Antrim Givens.

Robert Allan had seven children, and twenty-three grandsons who bore the Allen surname:

Though I've been adding all the agnatic Allens and Givens descendants I find to my Descendancy Charts, I am interested particularly in the six Allen grandsons of Shelby County (three of whom were Justices of the Peace) -- Montgomery, Robert Polk (JP), Thomas A. (JP), John/Jack, Washington (JP), and James David (Colonel). Robert Polk founded Allen Dale Farm with Montgomery's help. Thomas and John founded a neighboring farm near the (old) Plum Creek Church. The six named grandsons had at least 18 sons, so even the ``Shelbyville Allens'' turned into a large batch.

Among the six Shelby grandsons, Montgomery married one of Robert Polk's sisters, and Robert Polk married Montgomery's oldest sister. (Thomas, John and one of their sisters all married Hornsby siblings, as did also one of Montgomery's sisters. I also show multiple Allen marriages to Sharp's and Taylor's.) Thus the ties of the Shelbyville Allens were cemented by marriage. In the descendancy charts, we also show one of Robert Polk Allen's nieces marrying a nephew, and a grandniece marrying a grandnephew. The two descendancy charts have the same individual numbers assigned, and thus cross-reference each other.

I copied Robert Allan's will from the Allen webpage of Elizabeth Seal-Cosek. (Via Wanda Ballard I learn that ``Bogle'' was William Bogle, a colored man who was Robert Allen's godson.) Some sources refer to Robert Allen as ``Reverend.''

Will of Robert Allan (1695?-1769) dated the 19th of December 1765

In the name of God Amen, the 19th day of December 1765, Robert Allen of the County of Fredrick and Colony of Virginia, being old and weak of body, but of perfect mind and memory and thanks be given to Almighty God for the name, therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men to die, do make ordain and constitute this my last will and testament, that is to principally and first of all - I give and recommend my Soul into the hands of Almighty God and my body I recommend to the earth from whence it came to be buried in a decent manner at the discretion of my Executors. Nothing doubting at the general resurrection I shall re-live the same again by the highly powers of God and as touching my worldly estate wherewith it has pleased Almighty God to bless me within the natural life, I give, demise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form:

Item 1. I give and bequeath too my beloved wife, Sarah Allen, the room we now live in and the bed and furniture we sleep on in said room and 2 cows and calves of her own choice and Black Horse called her riding horse and the side saddle that is now in the house during her life and at her death to return to my son, Benjamin Allen and his heirs lawfully begotten of his body,

Item 2 I give and bequeath to my son Benjamin Allen the plantation that I now live on, to him and his heirs lawfully begotten of his body.

Item 3. I give and bequeath to my son all the household furniture that is on the plantation whereon I now live.

Item 4. I give to my son Benjamin Allen, 2 good workhorses that shall be on the plantation at the day of my death, likewise the plows and gears and oxes.

Item 5. I give and bequeath to my son Robert Allen, five pounds currency money to be paid out of my effects by my Executors at my death.

Item 6. I give and bequeath to my grandson Robert Gibbens five pounds currency money to be paid out by my Executors at my death. It is my will and desire that all the rest of my stock be sold for ready cash to be equally divided among my four sons, that is to say, John, Robert, Thomas and David Allen. IT is my will and desire that currency money and 1 horse to the value of five pounds and saddle to value 30 shillings and a suit of clothes to the value of 3 pounds to b paid to said Bogle at his freedom or expiration of 21 years of age. It is my will and desire that my son John Allen and Benjamin Allen may be my whole and sole Executors of this last will and testament and I do utterly disallow, revoke and disannul all and every .........

Finding a Nephew

The accounts of Robert Allan's emigration imply that he had some nephews who accompanied him and who probably grew up in Pennsylvania or Virginia during the mid 1700's. However I've identified for certain only one of these nephews, James Allen II, and even he isn't shown explicitly as a nephew anywhere I've seen.

My sister gave me a book, Kentucky and the Bourbons (The Story of Allen Dale Farm) by Robert R. Van Stockum. It mentions a prominent lawyer and war hero, ``Colonel John Allen, a cousin of the Allens of Allen Dale'' who enters Van Stockum's story because ``The heirs of this John Allen, his four daughters, acquired their father's half-interest [in a rival claim to Allen Dale].'' Van Stockum goes on to show that Colonel John Allen and heirs were good friends with Robert Polk Allen despite being opponents in litigation.

I already had a comprehensive list of all Robert Polk Allen's first cousins and, although three were named John, none of them matched the Colonel. The first cousins once-removed were all too young to be a Colonel in the War of 1812. Colonel John must have been a second cousin, and thus the son of one of Robert's ``missing'' nephews.

With these hints I decided to try to identify Colonel John's ancestry. It took three separate ``jigsaw puzzle'' pieces at's WorldConnect and LDS's FamilySearch to succeed:

Coming to Pennsylvania from Ireland ``with his widowed mother'' certainly makes his father sound to be Robert Allan's murdered brother James, but it might be coincidence. For me, the proof comes when this is combined with Van Stockum's calling John a ``cousin of the Allens of Allen Dale.''

Robert Polk Allen's father (John) apparently crossed the Atlantic with Colonel John's father (James) when they were very young children. They separated in Pennsylvania when Major John was just six years old; yet sixty years later their sons were in contact in Kentucky and recognized their kinship ties.

Here's a biographical sketch of Robert Allan's nephew James, provided at WorldConnect by (Carol Wilkerson):

Name: James ALLEN II

Death: 4 JAN 1811 in Danville, KY

Note: As a child he had come to America from Ireland with his widowed mother, and arrived in Pennsylvania. Here she lost all of her money in a fraudulent land scheme. So, penniless, they moved to Botetourt County, Virginia. After they had secured a home and were thriving, young James went to the West Indies in search of his fortune, and there he spent his early manhood and had great success. He returned to Botetourt County, and ... married Mary Kelsay. In 1779 they left Virginia and went by wagon over trails used by hunters into Kentucky, where they settled in the wilderness away from other settlements for three years in the midst of constant danger and Indian warfare. He and a friend built the first cabins outside of a fort (near present day Danville, Kentucky). In 1784, James bought a large section of land (in what was to later become Nelson County) and built upon it a comfortable home. He returned for his family, and upon bringing them to their new home they found it in ashes as well as the nearby fort, burned to the ground by Indians. He then proceeded to build a new home on the same site, where they lived for the remainder of their days. Mary died there on May 14, 1808, and James died there January 4, 1811. It was written of James that "he lived to an extreme old age, in the midst of broad acres his rifle had helped to redeem from the Indians, in which had been converted by his labor from a wild canebrake into a blooming and fruitful garden." Of their six children, three sons and son-in-law placed themselves forever in the history of Kentucky. Allen County was named in honor of their son, Colonel John Allen. Descendents were to be governors, lawyers, soldiers and duelists.

Here's a biographical sketch of the same James Allan, copied from KENTUCKY: A History of the State, Battle, Perrin, & Kniffin, 4th ed., 1887, Nelson Co. and placed online by the Kentucky Biographies Project at

THE ALLEN FAMILY. James Allen, Sr., the progenitor of the Kentucky branch of that distinguished family, was of Scotch descent; he immigrated to America, and the colony of Pennsylvania, from Ireland, some time anterior to the Revolutionary war; after spending some time in Pennsylvania he went to the West Indies, but shortly after returned to America and settled in Rockbridge County, Va. He immigrated to Kentucky in 1780, and located near Danville in the present county of Boyle, where he with another pioneer, Mr. Daviess, father of the distinguished Col. Joseph Hamilton Daviess, made a settlement a few miles from the station, leaving the fort on account of the profanity of the garrison and others, as he was a strict Presbyterian. [ my emphasis -- jda ] He lived there three years, then went to what is now Nelson County, and made a settlement near where the village of Bloomfield now stands. He put up a small cabin and returned for his family, but upon taking them to their new home he found the Indians had burned his cabin during his absence. Winter was at hand, but endowed with the energy of the frontiersman, he went to work, and with the aid of his wife soon constructed another cabin. Here he lived until his death at the beginning of the century. His farm, known as "Allendale," is still in the possession of the descendants [ this is false -- jda ]; his wife, Mary (Kelsey) Allen, was a native Virginian, but died in Nelson County, Ky., in May, 1808. They had five children, three sons and two daughters; the sons were John, Joseph and James; the first, Col. John Allen, was one of the ablest lawyers of his day, the rival of Henry Clay in the court of appeals. He was a colonel in the war of 1812, and fell at the battle of the River Raisin. His name, as well as that of the family, is perpetuated in that of a county (see historical sketch of Allen County). Joseph Allen, the second eldest son, was a small boy when his parents came to Kentucky. He removed to Breckinridge County about the time it was created. In the organization of its legal machinery he was chosen county and circuit clerk of the new county. No other evidence of his official integrity is required than the fact that he held the office for a period of fifty-eight years. He served in the war of 1812, and was the father of Hon. Alfred Allen, a distinguished lawyer and politician. The two daughters of James Allen, Sr., were Sallie (who married Andrew Rowan, brother of the celebrated John Rowan), and Margaret (who married Joseph Huston) and became the mother of the well known Judge Eli and Maj. Huston, of Natchez, Miss. James Allen, the only other child of James Allen, Sr., was born March 26, 1779; one year later his family immigrated to Kentucky; he was reared in and has always remained a resident of Nelson County; in early life received a limited amount of schooling at Bardstown and vicinity, but acquired most of his education by reading and association with men of culture in the transaction of business. He served in a number of official capacities in his county-high sheriff, representative in the Legislature, and other minor offices; in the settlement of neighborhood difficulties he was almost invariably called upon to act as arbitrator. During the latter part of his life he devoted his entire attention to the propagation of small fruits and flowers. A Whig in politics, he was a warm personal friend of Henry Clay. He died May 13, 1852, at the age of seventy-three years. In his last hours he made a request that a copy of the word of God should be made a pillow for his head, in his tomb. While not identified with any church yet he lived an upright, true and consistent Christian. March 25, 1802, Mary Read became his wife. To their union seven children were born: Joseph, Oliver, Eliza, Mary, Nancy, John and Amanda, of whom Oliver, Mary and Amanda are the surviving ones. Mary is the widow of Henry Rowland, and Amanda is the widow of Charles Q. Armstrong. To the union of the latter were born seven children, of whom five are now living: Kate, wife of Capt. John H. Leathers of Louisville, Anna E., wife of Rev. E.H. Pearce; Lillie, consort of Frank Offutt; John A., who married Jennie Moore, and Mattie, wife of S.F. Wilkinson.

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