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Rev. Richard ALLEN [ALLEINE] (c1575-Aft 1654)

A celebrated Non-Conformist Divine

ęCompiled by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington March 2009

Rev. Richard ALLEN [ALLIN] [ALLEINE] [ALLEYNE] (c1575-after 1654)

After University he entered the church and was ordained as a priest on 24 Feb 1595 but it is not known where he served his curacy. The Church of England database at present [Mar 2009] only shows that he was licensed to preach on 20 Feb 1604 in the dioceses of London, Lincoln, Bath & Wells before being appointed  on 8 April 1606 as Rector of St Mary Magdalene Church in Ditchett [Ditcheat] Somerset. A new curate Robert THATCHER joined him in August the same year.

The Old Manor House - Ditcheat

This 16th Century Manor House is situated right next to St Mary Magdalene church and would have been well known to Richard Allen. A modern picture showing part of the graveyard is provided via the link where you can also see pictures of the church GN1. The picture below is of the old Abbey formerly known as the Priory which was built as the rectory by John GUNTHOROPE who was recotor of Ditcheat in 1473 and this is therefore where Richard Allen would have lived with his family. After his demise the house was altered in 1667 for Christopher COWARD and given a new facade.

Richard Allen appears to have married around 1610 and as far as I can tell he remained Rector of Ditchet throughout his life with references to him in church records still being Rector there in the years 1620 and 1639. As a Puritan Minister of some zeal Richard Allen would have know the tremendously well respected Rev. John White and he appears among the list of investors in the Dorchester company which traded between 1624-1626. From his marriage he had at least two famous sons both of which feature in the Dictionary of National Biography:-

Rev. Richard ALLEINE (1611-1681)
Born at Ditcheat  in the year 1611 he was initially educated by his father until at the age of 16 when he was elected commoner in 1627 and matriculated at Oxford where he entered St Alban Hall on 15 Oct 1630. His bachelor of Arts degree quickly followed on 20 June 1631. He then transferred to Hall Inn where he was awarded his MA degree on 29 Apr 1634. Having completed a distinguished academic course he was ordained into the church on 2 Mar 1634 and became ‘assistant’ to his father and was licensed to preach 25 May 1635.

On 18 Mar 1642 he succeeded the Rev. Richard BERNARD BD as Rector of Batcombe in Somerset. In the Civil War (1642-1651) sided with the Puritans by subscribing the ‘Testimony of the Ministers in Somersetshire to the Truth of Jesus Christ’ - a calm and statesman-like paper -  and the ‘Solemn League and Covenant’. In August 1654 he and his father were appointed assistants to the commissioners of parliament for the County of Somerset for ‘Ejecting scandalous Ignorant and Insufficient Ministers and Schoolmasters’.

For twenty years he remained at Batcombe, and was idolised by his parishioners. At the restoration he showed a willingness to acquiesce to the new government's demands concerning religion 'being of the old-fashioned type of believer in monarchy' but the Act of Uniformity came and he felt compelled by loyalty of conscience to cast in his lot with the ‘ejected ‘. Because of the ‘Five Mile Act’ which prevented him preaching at Batcombe, he removed to Frome Selwood , and preached there and in the neighbourhood semi-privately until his death on 22 December 1681.

Rev. William ALLEINE (1614-1677)
A younger brother of Richard he was also born at Ditcheat in 1613/14 and his initial education was also undertaken by his father. He then went to Oxford entering New Inn Hall where he matriculated on 4 Nov 1631 at the age of 17. He was awarded his BA on 29 April 1634, and his MA on 19 Jan 1636/7.

On leaving University he became private chaplain in ‘a noble house’ (Lord Digby) in London. At the beginning of the great Civil War he is found residing at Ilchester, and ‘consulted by great officers’. For his letters to them he is proclaimed by the cavaliers to be a traitor in three market towns. He held them, in turn, for traitors against the kingdom. He was repeatedly plundered and maltreated. Hairbreadth escapes for his life were long remembered. Having removed to Bristol, he was there brutally ill used. In the ‘Commissions’ of 1650 and 1653 he is entered ‘ William Allen a learned orthodox, able divine, the present incumbent’. When the Act of Uniformity was passed he was vicar of Blandford but never hesitated. His parishioners held him in the utmost veneration,and he dearly loved them, but he freely quitted his living, and ministered to people in private. A few years after the ejection he took up his residence again in Bristol, where he carried on his ministry with ever increasing acceptance. From there he went to Yeovil where he died in October 1677 aged 63. 

As indicated above we know that their father Richard Allen was still alive in August 1654 when he was appointed assistant to the commissions and by then must have been in his late 70’s or early 80’s. I have not so far however been able to locate his death or burial.

Sources:- Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum 1642-1660 CH Firth RS RAIT Published 1911: Dictionary of National Biography:  CCED: OXA:

GN1: Pictures of the church on this site are frames 1025465 and 1025470 by Derek Harper; and 376684 by Barbara Voules

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