Bennett Allen was a British minister who resided in the British North American colonies for a short period of time between from 1766 to 1775. There is no record of Bennett Allen’s birth or earliest years. He was known as a man of scholar and fine appearance by few but by the majority he was seen to have a terrible principal and profane piety which made his appearance appear to the colonists as poor wretched man. Before coming to America Allen graduated from Wadham College in Oxford England and was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Oxford on September 23, 1759. By the same bishop he also became a priest on September 20, 1761. In 1766 he left England and went to Maryland by the order of Lord Baltimore under the assumption that he would receive one of the best clerical livings in America.
He was given a license to preach in America on September 30, 1766. When Allen first arrived in Maryland, Lord Baltimore gave him choice over which parish to go to. Mr. Horatio Sharp offered Allen two parishes in which Allen chose St. Anne’s Parish in Annapolis. Allen grew weary of just having one parish so he began to demand another one, which would have led to breaking the law of pluralities. Allen would defy these pluralities laws when he acquired James’s Parish as well. However this did not last long because he would leave these parishes and by April 20, 1767 Allen became Rector of All Saints Church in Fredericktown and was given 2 slaves and acquired 1,000 acres of unimproved land. However, by this time Bennett’s public appearance was not very well received. He was known as a drunk in public. On November 24, 1767 he began in a quarrel with Daniel Dulaney in the streets of Annapolis where Bennett backed out of a duel. Allen was forced to give up his keys to the church and moved to Philadelphia.
On May 11, 1775 Allen preached a sermon recommending moderation or peace in reply to ministers who supported the Whigs. This was not very liked by the Americans and he was arraigned before Fredericktown Committee of Correspondence for this sermon. In September of 1775 Allen went back to England due to his quarrels in America. Allen left his land and his affairs that he still owned to Mr. John Hanson and his sister Elizabeth. In England he become minister of Great Ilford and was paid 20 Sterling per annuum. He also received a pension of 100 sterling per annum through the British Treasury. He claimed the loss of 3,883 sterling and received 150 Sterling due to the troubles in America and his loss of land and property.
In 1781 Allen’s American past actions were questioned again. He was indicted for Treason in Maryland due to his sermon and public arrogance, but was later exonerated because the British could not find significant evidence to keep a guilty verdict. On June 18, 1782 Allen Challenged Lloyd Dulaney (also from Maryland) to a duel in London and killed him. After this his already fragile public appearance within England expanded even further. There are no death records recorded for Mr. Rev. Bennett Allen, but he is said to have died in wretched poverty in the streets of London.
- Gerald Hayes, Aida Ibarra, Claire Tryon, Jackie Wantz
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