Friday 3 January 2014

(100) Allen of Lisconnan House

Allen of Lisconnan
Samuel Allen (c.1742-1820) was a successful linen merchant from Larne (Co. Antrim) who built a bleach mill and drying ground at Millbrook in 1776, which he operated until 1801.  His parentage is unclear, but he was apparently related to Mary Allen of Springmount, Clough (Co. Antrim), who married William Higginson in about 1746.  In 1788, Samuel bought the Lisconnan estate, and between then and 1808 he built the earliest part of the present house there.  His son, Dr. Samuel Allen (1778-1835), was educated as a gentleman and became a doctor of medicine; he also built up an important library at Lisconnan which remained in the house until 1920.  He seems to have been responsible for building the entrance front of the house, perhaps needing the extra space for his large family.  His eldest son, Samuel, predeceased his father, dying in Paris after making a Grand Tour which took him as far as Palestine, and another son was an early emigrant to Australia.  Lisconnan passed to Henry Ellis Allen (1808-74), and thence to his son, Samuel Allen (1842-1919), who enlarged the house again in 1886 and added the porch about 1900. Samuel was a barrister, and divided his time between his legal practice in Dublin and his estate; his son, Samuel Allen (1891-1942), was a bachelor and sold the house to James Young (d. 1955) in the early 1930s. Young's daughter subsequently married Samuel's younger brother, Lt. Col. Henry Adair Allen, who lived at Lisconnan and managed the estate on behalf of his father-in-law. When James Young died in 1955, the house was sold, bringing to an end the family's connection with the estate.

Lisconnan House, Dervock, Co. Antrim

The house, of cream-washed roughcast, is an irregular H-shaped block, with a seven bay two storey entrance front forming one side of the H, the oldest part containing the staircase forming the cross-range and the service wing forming the other main range.  The present building replaces a 17th century house. 

Lisconan House: a 19th century drawing of the house before the second storey was added to the right-hand part of the house.

The entrance front seems all to date from around 1820, but originally consisted of a four bay two-storey part with a lower three-bay wing; the single-storey part was raised to match the rest in 1886 and the central porch, with a very wide plain segmental fanlight, was added about 1900.  These additions were, however, so well done that the facade looks all of one date now.  Inside, there are a well-proportioned hall, drawing room, and dining room, and a charming room upstairs with a coved ceiling; the detailing is generally good, with reeded doorcases, shutters and dummy doors.  The Venetian window on the first floor over the porch is better detailed inside than out.

Lisconnan House: a mid 20th century watercolour by Sheila Allen. Image: S.J.A. Allen.

Descent: Francis Andrews (d. 1774); to mother (d. 1780) and then George Gamble (fl. 1784) who sold 1788 to Samuel Allen (c.1742-1820); to son, Dr. Samuel Allen (1778-1835); to son, Henry Ellis Allen (1808-74); to son, Samuel Allen (1842-1919); to son, Samuel Allen (1891-1942), who sold c.1932 to James Young (d. 1955), for whom the estate was managed by Lt. Col. Henry Adair Allen (1893-1977); sold after 1955.

Allen family of Lisconnan House

Allen, Samuel (c.1742-1820), of Lisconnan.  Parentage unknown; born 1742. He is said to have come to Larne as a young man from Ayrshire. He became a successful linen merchant, who built a bleach mill at Millbrook in 1776. He was High Sheriff of Co. Antrim in 1790, and is said to have fought against the United Irishmen at the Battle of Antrim in 1798. He married, 1774, Frances, daughter of James Higginson of Lisburn (Antrim) and had, among other issue:
(1) Dr. Samuel Allen MD (1778-1835) (q.v.).
He lived at Allensbrook, Larne (Antrim) and Bellisle, Dervock before purchasing the Lisconnan estate in 1788.
He died 4 May 1820.

Dr. Samuel Allen (1778-1835)
Allen, Dr. Samuel (1778-1835), of Lisconnan.  Son of Samuel Allen (1742-1820) of Lisconnan and his wife Frances, daughter of James Higginson of Lisburn (Antrim), born 1778.  Doctor of Medicine. He was a popular physician, and on one occasion is said to have sailed through a winter tempest, against all advice, from Ballycastle to Rathlin Island to cure and nurse back to health his friend Mr Gage, who was critically ill and expected to die; a silver salver presented to him by Gage in thanks remains in the possession of the family. He gave a site for the building of a Catholic church in Dervock.  He formed a notable library which was dispersed at a Sothebys sale in 1920, after the death of his descendant and namesake in 1919. He married, 14 November 1798, Millicent Mary, daughter of Ven. Conway Benning, Archdeacon of Dromore, and had issue:
(1) Anne Allen (1805-90); married Edmund Alexander Douglas (d. 1846), son of Rev. Charles Douglas, and had issue four sons and one daughter; died 23 February 1890; will proved at Belfast, 27 August 1890 (effects £370);
(2) Samuel Allen; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1817); made a tour of Palestine in 1826; British consul in Paris, where he died;
(3) Henry Ellis Allen (1808-74) (q.v.);
(4) Conway James Allen (1812-49);
(5) George Allen (1816-98); of Geelong (Australia);
(6) Thomas Allen (1819-49);
(7) Ellen Allen; died unmarried;
(8) Amelia Allen; died unmarried;
(9) Jane Allen; died unmarried;
(10) Frances Allen (1823-97); married, 4 December 1849, Rev. Charles Edward Dighton, vicar of Maisemore (Glos) and had issue; died 28 March 1897.
He inherited Lisconnan House from his father in 1820.
He died 9 October 1835.

Allen, Henry Ellis (1808-74), of Lisconnan. Eldest son of Dr. Samuel Allen MD (1778-1835) of Lisconnan and his wife Millicent Mary, daughter of Ven. Conway Benning, Archdeacon of Dromore, born 25 February 1808.  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1825). Linen merchant with a mill as Liscolman. Contributed to the building of a Catholic church in Dervock. He married, 8 February 1840, Jane, daughter of John Rogan of Kilkenny, and had issue:
(1) Samuel Allen (1842-1919) (q.v.);
(2) Marcus Allen (1843-1909); surgeon in Royal Artillery;
(3) Henry Allen (1845-1900); civil engineer; went to Canada;
(4) Col. George Burgess Allen (1846-1913), Royal Artillery; died at San Remo (Italy), 26 February 1913; will proved 2 July 1913 (estate in UK £414).
He inherited Lisconnan House from his father in 1835.
He died 6 November 1874; his will was proved 4 March 1875 (estate under £7,000).

Allen, Samuel (1842-1919), of Lisconnan.  Eldest son of Henry Ellis Allen (1808-74) of Lisconnan and his wife Jane, daughter of John Rogan of Kilkenny, born 22 July 1842. Educated at Middle Temple (admitted 1863) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (admitted 1866; BA 1869; MA 1872; LLD 1885). Barrister-at-law in Dublin. He divided his time between his legal practice and farming at Lisconnan, and was JP and DL for Co. Antrim; High Sheriff of Co. Antrim, 1886. He married, 15 January 1890, Florence Mary (c.1860-1927), daughter of Gen. Sir Charles William Adair KCB RM (d. 1897), of Southsea [see Adair of Loughanmore], and had issue:
(1) twin, Samuel Allen (1891-1942) (q.v.);
(2) twin, Marjorie Allen (1891-1962), born 5 June 1891; died unmarried, 29 May 1962;
(2) Lt-Col. Henry Adair Allen (1893-1977) (q.v.);
(3) Cmdr. Conway Benning Allen (b. 1896), born 25 September 1896; educated at Royal Naval Colleges, Osborne and Dartmouth; served in Royal Navy, including WW1 and WW2 (retired 1945); DSO 1943; married, 4 November 1927, Marjorie, daughter of James Brough Warren of Rathfarnham (Dublin) and had issue a daughter.
He inherited Lisconnan House from his father in 1874 and extended it in 1886 and c.1900. 
He died 1 July 1919; his will was proved 25 October 1919.

Capt. Samuel Allen (1891-1942)
Allen, Samuel (1891-1942), of Lisconnan. Eldest son of Samuel Allen (1842-1919) of Lisconnan and his wife Florence Mary, daughter of Gen. Sir Charles William Adair KCB, born 5 June 1891. Educated at Aldenham. Captain in Royal Irish Fusiliers; served in WW1 (awarded MC and Croix de Guerre). When he sold Lisconnan, he used the proceeds of the sale to benefit the Church of Ireland Derrykeighan Parish Church in Dervock, to build the Allen and Adair Memorial Parish Hall in memory of the Allen family connection, and to construct a large Rectory and also sports facilities for the local community.
He inherited Lisconnan from his father in 1919 but sold it in the early 1930s to James Young of Fenaghy House, Cullymacky (Co. Antrim), whose daughter subsequently married his brother.
He died unmarried and without issue, 2 November 1942 and was buried at Derrykeighan, where he is commemorated by a monument.

Lt-Col. Henry Adair Allen
Allen, Lt-Col. Henry Adair (1893-1977), of Lisconnan.  Second son of Samuel Allen (1842-1919) of Lisconnan and his wife Florence Mary, daughter of Gen. Sir Charles William Adair KCB, born 18 July 1893. Educated at Bradfield and RMC Sandhurst. Served in Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1912-46 and was mentioned in despatches four times in WW1 and awarded the DSO. DL for Co. Antrim, 1946; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1947.  He married, 9 February 1935, Sheila Gertrude (1901-86), only daughter of James Young of Fenaghy House, Cullybackey (Co. Antrim), and had issue:
(1) Samuel James Adair Allen (b. 1938), born 2 April 1938; educated at Shrewsbury School; served in Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1957-59; had a business career in India, Trinidad, Brazil and Ireland, culminating in 19 years as Secretary-General of British Chamber of Commerce for Brazil, 1975-94; married, 12 January 1965, Maria Rita Ribeiro of Indianopolis, Sao Paulo (Brazil) and had issue one son (Samuel (b. 1968)) and one daughter (Esther (b. 1965)).
He lived at Lisconnan House and managed the property on behalf of his father-in-law until 1955, when it was sold on the death of James Young. He lived subsequently in Ballycastle.
He died in September 1977. His widow died in March 1986.


Burke's Irish Family Records, 1976, p.16; H.B. Swanzy, The families of French of Belturbet and Nixon of Fermanagh, 1908, p. 198; C.E.B. Brett, The buildings of County Antrim, 1996, p. 165;

Location of archives

Allen family of Lisconnan: family history, c.1920; estate papers, 19th-20th cents [Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, T690, D396]

Coat of arms

Argent, two chevronels azure on a chief indented azure a bezant between two escallops or.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published on 3 January 2014, and was updated 22 & 27 August 2015, 8 and 31 August 2018;and 11 and 17 March 2019 and 25 January 2021. I am grateful to Samuel James Adair Allen and Esther Allen for additional images and information, and to Julie Bythell-Douglas and Donnell O'Loan for corrections and additions to my original account.


  1. Fascinating. I wasn't aware of this at all.

  2. Lisconnan is a very pleasant house, with many original period features. To the north of the house is the ring fort from which it derives its name, and adjacent to the house is a large stone-built dovecote. The house itself ìs said locally to be haunted.

  3. Iam the current owner of lisconnan estate including house .my grand father bought at three different time the 1940 again in 1955 and purchased the house and 50acres .in 1960. House was lease out up untill
    July 1999 .since then i and my family have lived in lisconnan house

    1. Thank you for getting in touch. Do let me know if you can add or correct anything in my account of the house. And I would be very happy to include a photograph of the building as it is today if you care to send me one. If you would like to do this, please send me a private message through the contact form in the right-hand side bar, or message me on Twitter @NicholasKingsle.

    2. Hi, I am a (secret) descendant of Lt. Col Samuel Allen and have heard so much about the estate passed down the family. If you were ever thinking of selling please let me know as I would like to get it back in the family.

  4. So sad to see this once magnificent house of such character going downhill, I visited fairly recently and got such a shock. You really need a passion and knowledge in how to treat houses such as this to preserve them for future generations, at its rate of decay presently it won't be long until it will need a substantial amount of sympathetic repair work.
    My last passing saw the 2 beautiful wrought-iron gates padlocked shut and the tarmac driveway was overgrown with moss and weeds. Clearly the main entrance is now not used. The dovecote has collapsed and the grounds and surrounding forests are in an awful state. Such a tragedy.

    1. To know the information about the dovecote and the surrounding Forrest's you must have been trespassing as these are privately owned land. Also the lane is used daily and is not overgrown with moss and weeds as you have described. The house is in no need of substantial repair work, maybe just a lick of paint and a few minor issues, again you would only know this information if you were trespassing.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.