William Charles ALLEN – Jane’s GGF1 – 1851-1935

William C Allen

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William Charles Allen was the eldest of the seven children of Thomas Allen and Caroline Baker. He was born on 30 Jan 1851 and baptised on 11 Feb 1851 at the Holy Trinity, Combe Down, Bath.

Holy Trinity, Combe Down, Bath

He married Rebecca Culliford on 21 May 1871 at the Parish of Widcombe church.

William Charles Allen and Rebecca

St Thomas à Becket, Widcombe

Rebecca Culliford

Rebecca had a past, serving several sentences at Shepton Mallet Jail. First, in June 1867 Rebecca, just 16 years old, had received a six-month jail sentence for stealing a dress and an umbrella. Then, in July 1868 she was convicted for obtaining a dress worth ten shillings by false pretences from Sophia Wallace, and separately endeavouring to obtain another dress from an Ann Webb. For this she was sentenced to nine months and a day. Her occupation was shown as ‘servant’.

Shepton Mallet jail yard

It is easy to dismiss these as trivial thefts by a ‘child’ and reflect on the harsh regime applied to someone who was clearly very poor. A few years after these first two offences, the 1871 census shows her occupation as ‘laundry’. She was aged twenty, still living at home with her 54-year-old labourer father (Walter Culliford), and her 50-year-old charwoman mother (Rebecca [Brockbow] Culliford).

However this excuse is less applicable for her subsequent charge on 10 Oct 1873. She was now twenty-two years of age, had been married to William C Allen for two years and her first child, Ada, was two years old. She received a two-month jail sentence in Shepton Mallet gaol. This was for stealing an umbrella at Bath on 3 October, worth ten shillings and sixpence, the property of Matilda Slade. She served her sentence until 12 Dec 1873. The register recording her sentence shows that she could read and write ‘well’. I found no subsequent recors of any misdemeanours by Rebecca.

The two went on to have thirteen children across the next 21 years – and 46 grandchildren!

William C Allen’s children and spousesWilliam C Allen’s grandchildren
Ada Louisa Allen [Blay] (1871-1915)
George Blay (1871-bef 1901)
Dorothy Blay (1893-)
John Reginald Blay (1897-)
– John served just 41 days of 1914 in WWI, sent to Rouen he was discharged for having fits and a fractured hand.
George Noel Blay (1898-)

William Charles Allen II (1874-1938) (more below)
Mabel Annie Stanton (1883-1962)
married 1908 in Bodmin, Cornwall
William Percy Charles Allen (1908-1983) (below)
Francis Ralph Allen (1910-1944) (below)
Mabel Rose Allen [Adams] (1912-1991)
Anthony Herbert Allen (1914-2003)
Audrey Agnes Allen [Sandle] (1918-1937)
Victor Bernard Allen (1921-1999)

GF – Walter Thomas Allen (1877-1930)
GM – Elizabeth Amy Perry (1880-1967)
married 10 Mar 1898 in Bath, Somerset
William Charles Allen (1898-1917)
Walter Reginald Allen (1902-1931)
Leonard Alfred Allen (1903-1939)
Percy Douglas Allen (1906-1956)
Reginald Allen (1908-1975)
Dennis Roy Allen (1910-1980)
Dorothy Gertrude Mary Allen [Iles] (1913-2005)
Phyllis Emily Allen [Eades] (1915-2009)
Margaret Ruby Allen [Macfarlane] (1917-1994)
F – Ivanhoe Wilfred Allen (1919-1996)
Henry Frederick Allen (1879-1961)
Dennis Allen (1879-?)

Alfred A Allen (1880-1967) (more below)
Florence Mary Ann Cox (1881-1947)
Married 1906 in Hackney, London
Florence Irene Allen (1907-1907)
Gladys Rebecca Allen [Taylor] (1909-2000)
Albert John Allen (1911-1911)
Lillian Maud Allen (1913-
Alfred Allen (1914-?) died as a child
Doris May Allen (1919-1995) – went to USA?
Florence Margaret Allen [Franklin] (1920-1974)
Rebecca Allen (1882-?)

Reginald Herbert ‘Bertie’ Allen (1884-1957)
Rosina Emily Primmer (1884-1976)
married 26 Dec 1906 in Widecombe, Bath

Reginald George John Allen (1908-1992)

Dennis Roy Allen (1910-1944)
(more below)

Elizabeth Maggie Allen [Piles] (1886-1961)
David Robert Piles (1887-1956)
married 26 Dec 1908 at St Swithins, Walcot, Bath
Dora Piles (1910-1942)
William J Piles (1910-1910)
Daniel J Piles (1912-1965)
Charles Edward Piles (1914-2001)
Lorraine Piles [Terrett] (1915-2018)
Caroline Louisa Allen [Power] (1888-1978)
John Streatfield Power (1888-1954)
married Jul 1912 St George Hanover Sq, London
Georgina Mary Power [Humphries] (1914-1994)
Kathleen Power [Russell] (1919-2000)
Joan Power (1921-1921)
Ronald Power (1923-1923)

Frank Allen (1889-1938) Lance-Corporal
Emily Jane Dewey (1884-1977)
married 1915
Ethel May Allen [Jarvis] (1916-2014)

William Percy Allen (1921-2007)
Kathleen Alexandrina (1924-1988)
Betty Rebecca (1928-1996)
Elsie Ellen Allen (Humphries) (1890-1992)
Sidney G Humphries (1891-1939)
married Jul 1926 in Frome, Somerset
Katherine ‘Kate’ Allen (Millar) (1892-1977)
Ivan Paul Millar (1892-1955)
marriage 9 Dec 1916 at St Augustine, South Croydon, Surrey, England
Joan Millar (1918-)
Dorothy M Millar (1919-) – emigrated to Canada
Ivy D Millar (1923-)
Elsie M E Millar (1929-)
Joyce E Millar [Newcombe] (1931-)

William C Allen obituary in Bath newspape

Working for R Kings & Sons

The same local newspaper obituary for William Charles Allen, identified that he had worked as a porter for R King & Son of Milsom Street, Bath for fifty years.

Milsom Street illustration c 1803

Milsom St and Bond St, illustration
from Jane Austen’s time in Bath

The buildings on Milsom Street were originally built in 1762 by Thomas Lightholder, they were grand town houses, built with three storeys, plus attics and basements, featuring mansard roofs and Corinthian columns. Most were later converted into shops, offices and banks. Today, #2 to #22 are grade II listed.

On one side of Milsom Street was a terrace of twenty-one houses. Numbers 7 and 8 were redesigned to be used by R King & Son, ‘Costumes, Mantles & Millinery’, running their store from c1850-1954.

James Jolly had set up a successful drapery store in Deal Kent during the 1810s. In 1830 he used his profits to to set up a seasonal store, to be run by his son Thomas, at 20 Old Bond Street, Bath. It proved successful and became a permanent store, moving to No.12 Milsom Street in 1831, where it traded as `The Bath Emporium’ selling linen, toys, silk, cutlery, etc.

The R King & Son premises were later taken over by Jolly & Co stretching to encompass Nos 7-14 Milsom Street. In 1970 Jollys was purchased by Dingles, and in 1971 Dingles became part of House of Fraser. The House of Fraser was purchased by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and as I write this there is still a revived Jollys trading in Bath on the site, but it is unclear if this will be sustained.

William C’s Death and legacy

William died on 20 Jun 1935 at the age of 84. A local obituary suggested that he was known as ‘the Major’ presumably because of that moustache and the jaunty hat, pictured above?

The obituary identified William as then living ar 16 London Place, Walcot, Bath (no longer exists) and that he left five daughters and four sons, all of whom had served in WWI.

William Charles Allen [II] (1873-1938) – Infantryman

His eldest son (Jane’s granduncle), and namesake, enlisted in the 2nd Battallion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (‘DCLI’) in 1893 and was initially posted to Dublin and later to Belfast. Gladstone had returned to power in 1892, and introduced the Second Home Rule Bill for Ireland in 1893. Despite the lobbying of Ulster Unionists it passed the Commons, but was defeated in the House of Lords, by its Conservative pro-unionist majority.

In 1895 he was posted to India, earning medals for his 1897-8 service on the Punjab frontier and the Tirah valley (close to the Khyber Pass).

In 1899 he won the South Africa Medal from being posted to the Cape Colony and Orange Free State, where he would have participated in the Oct 1899 – May 1902 South African (aka Boer) War. The battallion’s engagements included Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, the capture of Pretoria and the defence of Ladysmith.

William C Allen II with wife Selina (nee Ashill)

British soldiers wading a South African river during the South African War 1899-1902

On 3 Dec 1913 William C II was discharged at his own request and took a pension. But he reenlisted in the DCLI on 1 Jun 1915 and served throught the rest of WWI.

On 23 Feb 1919 he was transfrred to the Army Reserve. On 28 Aug 1919 he was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette Vol 1 1920 p503). On 20 Mar 1920 he was discharged under General Demobilisation he was 47-years-old.

By 1922 he was living at 63 Edinburgh St, Swindon, Wiltshire and working as a general labourer at the GWR Railway Works. William C II died of a haemorrhaging gastric ulcer in 1938 at the Medical Fund Hospital in Swindon. This progressive hospital was to prove instrumental, and used as an exemplar, when the National Health Service was formed a decade later in 1948.

William Percy Charles Allen (1908-1983) – Royal Artillery

William C Allen II’s eldest son followed his father, by working at the GWR Railway Woks in Swindon and joining the army for WWII, but he joined the Royal Artillery.

William pictured on a GWR outing

William in the Royal Artillery at Nottingham

William portrait (young)

William at around 60 years old

He died of a stroke in 1983 and was cremated at Kingsdown Crematorium, Stratton St Margarets, Swindon, Wiltshire.

Francis Ralph Allen (1910-1944) – Royal Navy

Francis Ralph Allen

HMS Janus of the Royal Navy

William C II’s second son (and Jane’s 1C1), Francis Ralph Allen, joined the Royal Navy for WWII and was killed with many others on 23rd June 1944, when HMS Janus, a J-class destroyer, was sunk by a German torpedo bomb after despatching somme 500x 4.7″ shells across two days, in support of the Anzio landings in Italy.

Dennis Roy Allen (1910-1944) – RAF navigator

Just five weeks later, another of my wife’s 1C1s, was lost. This was Reginald Herbert (Bertie) Allen‘s son Dennis Roy Allen, who was a sergeant navigator in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in WWII.

Sgt Dennis Roy Allen
beside a Wellington Bomber

Dennis Allen’s crew: FO Thomas Curphey of Canadian Air Force (CAF); FO Gordon Sholte of CAF; FO Lloyd Lovering of CAF; Sgt. I W Lewis of Glamorgan (flight engineer); Sgt. Dennis R Allen of Bath;Sgt. Herbert Lambert of Leeds (wireless operator/gunner); Sgt Robert Wilson RAF of Midlothian.

On 11 June 1944 he and his Wellington Bomber crew had been assigned to 50 squadron. They flew missions in June: to Watten 19th June, Gelsenkirchen on 21st, Limoges on 23rd, Prouville on 24th, Vitry on 27th and Beauvoir on 29th. After an eight day break, in July: to St Leu de Esserent on the 7th, Thiverny on the 19th, Courtrai on the 20th, Kiel on the 23rd, Stuttgart on the 24th, St Cyr on 25th, Givors on the 26th and their thirteenth mission to Stuttgart on the 28th.

Dennis’s Wellington VN-D is the one pictured in the foreground

But they did not return from their fourteenth operation, on the 29 July. After bombing Stuttgart they were lost over Huchenfeld.

I owe all this fascinating detail to Dennis’s daughter Mary who had been told nothing about her father’s death but tenaciously delved into the records to establish this material. Her mother had remarried and discussion of Dennis had become suppressed, but she still had the desire to know what happened. Flying Officer Thomas Curphey who was also lost, was her godfather.

Dennis had prepared a note to be sent upon his loss to advise that ‘he wanted his family to know that he went with a very brave band of men, and was honoured to do so’.

Quite recently Mary received a letter from a local German Jeorg Mezger, who had been at the crash site in 1944. She travelled to meet him and was shown the indentation in the forest where VN-D had come down. Jeorg had brought with him a metal detector and they collected these pieces of the aircraft.

Bomber fragments that Mary discovered

Headstone –
Plot: Coll. grave 9. G. 23-28

The site is a national forest which was the reason it had remained undisturbed although many ‘treasure hunters’ had removed the larger ‘souvenirs’ of the wreckage.

She obtained eye-witness accounts (in German) provided by someone described as the ‘grave-digger’ and learned that the aircraft had broken up. The tail had broken away and the tail gunner was found attached to it by his parachute; he was nineteen. Bizarrely she met the grave-digger and shook the hand of the man who had removed her father’s corpse from the wreckage.

Finally she went to the war cemetery at Durnbach, Gmund am Tegernsee, Miesbacher Landkreis, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany, it is located beside the north shore of the Tegernsee Lake.

The memorial says ‘sweetly sleeping, in God’s safekeeping, always in our thoughts’ – Dennis was just 25 years old.

Reginald Herbert ‘Bertie’ Allen (1884-1957) – Infantryman

Bertie was William Charles I’s sixth son and also served the army, with the DCLI for thirteen years from 5 Jan 1903. This included a six-month stay at Gibraltar in 1905

His early military records show several minor offences – in 1903 at Bodmin he was drunk and used abusive language, in 1905 on Gibraltar he left the barracks without permission to get a tattoo. For the latter he was confined to barracks for seven days and lost a day’s pay.

In WWI he spent just over a year in France from 4 Dec 1914 – 28 Dec 1915, being appointed a Lance Corporal on 26 Sep 1915. He received a World War 1 Medal, this recorded his service number as 7289 and his rank as Lance Corporal.

William Charles Allen I – moving around Bath census to census

1861 Census

William is shown living with his parents in Bath Street, at 8-years-old he is delcared as a scholar.

1871 Census

No luck, as yet, finding William at this time.

1881 Census

We find William and Rebecca living at 24 Bathwick Place, Bath. He is recorded as a draper’s porter (see obituary above), presumably working with his father, and Rebecca was a launderess.

They are shown as having four children living with them – Ada (10), William Charles (6), Walter Thomas (4) and Alfred A (6 mths). This is odd because we have Henry F and Dennis who would have been two years old (twins?). We could find no death date for Dennis, so perhaps he had died at birth. But we have a much later death date for Henry (1961). See below that he is listed in the 1891 Census. So was he in hospital? Or was there some other reason for his not being in the house for the census count?

1891 Census

They are now living at 4 Margaret’s Buildings, Bath.

Margaret’s Buildings with the Royal Crescent to the left and The Circus to its right

The building was built in 1773 by John Wood the Younger, the architect who shaped much of Bath’s Georgian city to form an urban link between The Royal Crescent and The Circus.

Today’s Margaret’s Builldings

Today it is a popular shopping area featuring many independent retailers. It is described, by some, as the ‘Covent Garden’ of Bath.

William is still working as a draper’s porter, but Rebecca is not shown with an occupation (if you can disregard raising eleven children!).

Ada, at 20, has left the home, but William Charles (16), still at home, is working as a butcher, Walter Thomas (14) is listed as an Errand Boy. Of school age were Henry (12) (who reappears!), Alfred (10), Rebecca (8), Reginald (6) [aka ‘Bertie’], Elizabeth (5), Caroline (3), Frank (2) and Elise (3 months) [or Elsie?].

1901 Census

They are still at 4 Margaret’s Buildings for the 1901 census as William and Rebecca enter their fifties. William is still a draper’s porter and Rebecca shows no occupation. Reginald (17) is still at home working as a fishmonger’s assistant, Elizabeth (15) is shown as a general domestic servant. Also shown as living here are Caroline (13), Frank (11), Elsie (9) and Kate (8).

1911 Census

The 60-year-olds now live at 11 Gay Buildings in Bath.

Gay Street, Bath – many now offices

Gay Street links Queen Square to The Circus. It was designed by John Wood the Elder in 1735 and completed by his son John Wood the Younger.

No 40 Gay Street is the location of the Jane Austen Centre, though she lived at No 25. Austen lived in fashionable Sydney Place for 3 years, then had shorter stays in Green Park, Gay Street and Trim Street.

William is shown as a porter to a silk mercer, Rebecca as a housewife. Caroline is 20, still single, living at home and shown as a cook, Frank is shown as an unemployed mechanic, and they have a 9-year-old schoolboy living with them called Henry Lucas, who was born in Walcot (I could find no more details).

Walcot in Bath


The evidence from excavations showed that people settled in Walcot shortly after the invasion in 43AD but before the Baths and Temple were built by the springs. They founded a settlement that grew rapidly in the first two centuries into a bustling small town, capitalising on the tourist trade provided by the Temple and Baths. The influx of people from the Roman Empire included highly skilled stone masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, potters, and glass makers. They brought with them new skills in stone carving, metal working and glass blowing. Trade and industry flourished and the area around the Hat and Feather yard grew to become a mix of workshops and domestic dwellings that remained in use until the fourth century AD.

Bath was not just about the 18th century ‘Age of Elegance’ but was also the centre of unashamed licentiousness. A past where the great city’s historic streets were literally teaming with prostitutes. Walcot Street, Avon Street and the Holloway district of Bath were notorious as centres of the sex trade.

Prostitution was so rife in fact that by 1805, while Jane Austen was a Bath resident, a Female Penitentiary and Lock Hospital was founded in Walcot to address the problem. The Penitentiary offered prostitutes salvation from walking the streets in retrun for ‘honest toil’. The charity took in washing and ironing and the large garden behind Ladymead House in Walcot Street made excellent drying grounds.

The first women admitted were Eliza Davey and Jane Matthews, both aged seventeen. The youngest, in March 1820, was described as an ‘unconsenting little sufferer of only nine years old’. 

The girls of the town lived amongst people struggling to make an honest survival against all the odds of the time in places such as Hat & Feather Yard, Walcot Street, described at the time as a ‘harbour of thieves, prostitutes, and characters of the worst descriptions, and a receptacle for stolen property’ where the language was ‘most offensive to persons passing by, particularly on Sabbath days’. [Source: BBC]

Go to Allen Family Tree – Go to Culliford Family Tree
Forward to GGM1 – Rebecca (Culliford) Allen – Forward to GGF2 – Thomas Allen
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