ALLEN, Sir Thomas (1603-81), of Finchley, Mdx. and Dorchester House, Westminster.
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Family and Education
bap. 24 Apr. 1603, o.s. of Edward Allen, Fishmonger, of Bread Street, London by Elizabeth, da. of William Bennett, Fishmonger, of London. educ. G. Inn 1618-26; St. John’s, Oxf. 1619-23, BA 1622, MA 1626. m. 1627, Mary (bur. 11 Feb. 1664), da. of Sir John Weld, merchant, of Old Jewry, London and Arnolds, Edmonton, Mdx., 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 7da. suc. fa. 1626; kntd. 26 Mar. 1639.
Governor, Barnet g.s. 1634-d., Cholmeley’s sch. Highgate 1653-d.; commr. for assessment, Mdx. 1640-1, Aug. 1660-80, array 1642, oyer and terminer, Mdx. and London, July 1660; j.p. Mdx. July 1660-d., dep. lt. c. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Mdx., London and Westminster 1662, recusants, Mdx. 1675.
Allen came from an old London family, armigerous since 1459. From his father, an early investor in the East India Company and a prominent member of the corporation, he inherited the manor of Bibbesworth in Finchley, purchased in 1622 for £5,000, as well as houses in Ludgate Hill and Holborn. He bought a manor in South Mimms in 1639 for £7,600. The first of his family to give up trade, he lived as a gentleman at Finchley, later leasing a house in Westminster from the dean and chapter. His sympathies were royalist and Anglican, and he was nominated to the commission of array in the Civil War. In 1643 he was assessed at £1,000 by the committee for the advance of money, and his household goods were distrained for non-payment. The committee for compounding reported in August 1644 that Allen had ‘absented himself to avoid payment to maintain the State’s armies. Was not in arms, came in five months since, and took the Covenant. Has since given nothing to the King’s party, but eight arms to the Middlesex Committee.’ He was discharged from sequestration in the following February on payment of a fine of £1,000, and the committee later allowed him to receive rents from the estates of Fitzwilliam Coningsby, who owed him £5,000.1
At the Restoration, Allen was one of the proposed knights of the Royal Oak with an income estimated at £2,000 p.a. He was successful for Middlesex in 1661. A very active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 575 committees, including the elections committee in 11 sessions, acted as teller on 18 occasions, and made two recorded speeches. He was appointed to the committee for the corporations bill and to the revived committee for the execution of the remaining regicides on 10 Jan. 1662. In 1663 he helped to consider defects in the Act of Uniformity and the Corporations Act, as well as a petition from the loyal and indigent officers. He was appointed to the committee for the conventicles bill in 1664; but most of his energy at this time must have been spent in conjunction with his colleague (Sir) Lancelot Lake in defending the interests of rural Middlesex against the metropolis. They acted as tellers against committing a bill for regulating building and hackney coaches and supplying defects in the London and Westminster Highways Act on 7 May; against further relief for the City in the assessment on 14 Jan. 1665; and for the proviso, tendered on behalf of Middlesex and Westminster, for the equal assessment of buildings and offices on 31 Jan. He was appointed to the committee for the five mile bill. In June 1667 he was consulted by the Council on the apportioning of the assessment between Westminster and Middlesex, and to make a survey of new buildings in each in order to settle the dispute between them. He lent the King £1,000 towards the expenses of the second Dutch war, repaid in July 1667, and in that year received £500 of secret service money. Finchley Common was a notorious haunt of highwaymen at this period, and Allen served on the delegation to confer with the Duke of Albemarle (George Monck) about their suppression. He was appointed to the committees to investigate the sale of Dunkirk, to consider the charges against Mordaunt, and to bring in a public accounts bill. On 11 Nov. he was teller against accepting the charge that Clarendon had betrayed state secrets to the King’s enemies. On the question of appropriation of the supply, 29 Feb. 1668, he urged that ‘we should not lay it by way of a negative vote. King James said of the negative confession in Scotland, proposed in his time, that it would be as long as the Bible’. Sir Thomas Osborne listed him in 1669 among the Members who might be engaged for the Court by the Duke of York and his friends. On the bill to enable Lord Roos (John Manners) to marry again, he moved to read canon law before deciding. He was appointed to the committees for the continuation of the Conventicles Act in 1670, and for the test bill, and acted as teller for the unsuccessful motion of 10 Mar. 1673 to exclude nonconformists from the House. He was again in the minority in opposing the second reading of the place bill introduced by (Sir) William Coventry on 22 Apr. 1675. In the autumn he was among those ordered to report on dangerous and seditious books. Sir Richard Wiseman described Lake and Allen as his ‘particular friends’ in 1676, and Shaftesbury classed him as ‘thrice vile’. His last important committee was on the bill to prevent the growth of Popery in 1677. The author of A Seasonable Argument remarked that ‘Sir Thomas Allen, whose understanding is as great as his honesty, a close embracer of rogues, had a boon of £1,000’. He was included in the opposition list of the ‘unanimous club’, and did not stand again. He died on 18 Aug. 1681, and was buried at Finchley. His advice to his children in his will was ‘fear God, honour the King, and love one another, and God will love you all’. He was the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.2
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
Unless otherwise stated, this biography is based on M. A. Wren and P. Hackett, James Allen, and on additional information supplied by the authors.