Sunday, 19 January 2014

(103) Allen of Stillorgan, Viscounts Allen

Allen of Stillorgan,
Viscounts Allen
John Allen (d. c.1641) was born in Holland of English parents and was sent around 1600 to Dublin to be agent in Ireland for Dutch merchant interests.  However, once in Dublin he seems to have moved into the building trades; he had an interest in architecture and no doubt brought with him new ideas from the Low Countries.  Although he described himself as a bricklayer in his will (and was perhaps the John Allen, bricklayer made a freeman of Dublin in 1630), it is clear that he was more than a mere artificer. According to the Peerage of Ireland he was very handsome, and had a 'great skill in architecture', which caused him to be 'much esteemed, and consulted by the most eminent of the nobility and gentry in their buildings'. He was employed by Sir Thomas Wentworth, later Earl of Strafford, to build a house at Jigginstown (Co. Kildare) which he may have helped to design, but which was never finished, and he may also have worked for Wentworth at Dublin Castle and Fairwood (Co. Wicklow); other private commissions are recorded for Trinity College, Dublin and Howth Castle (Co. Dublin).

His son, Sir Joshua Allen (d. 1691), became a merchant in Dublin and rose to be Lord Mayor of the City in 1673.  It was he who amassed the wealth from which subsequent generations benefitted, and who invested the proceeds of his long career in land.  He bought the Stillorgan estate in 1684, lands at Bullock and Dalkey in Co. Kildare, and an estate at Ashton-upon-Mersey near Sale in Cheshire, which was near to the home of his brother-in-law, Richard Wybrow. When James II came to the throne he anticipated trouble in Ireland and moved to Ashton for a few years, from where he helped to organise the transport of King William III's troops to Ireland.  His estates in Ireland were sequestered under the General Act of Attainder, but restored before his death in 1691.

Col. John Allen (1661-1726) served under William III in Ireland and became a MP in the Irish Parliament in 1692.  He was a strong Whig, and helped to ensure the election of all three of his sons as well as himself to bolster the Whig interest during the Tory administrations under Queen Anne.  For this he was rewarded with membership of the Privy Council in 1714 and with a Viscountcy when he retired from the Irish house of commons in 1717. He further developed the family estates, buying the Arklow estate in Wicklow which passed to his elder surviving daughter and her husband.

It was John Allen who was responsible for building a plain but dignified new house at Stillorgan in 1695 and laying out the formal grounds there.  By the time of his death in 1726 tastes had changed and his son, Joshua Allen (1685-1742), 2nd Viscount Allen, wanted a grander and more fashionable house.  He commissioned the rising young architect, Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, to design a remodelling, but this was never carried out, although some changes were made to the gardens, including the construction of a grotto and the famous Stillorgan obelisk, which was influenced by Bernini's obelisk in the Piazza Navona in Rome.  It is possible that Lord Allen was already running through the money accumulated by his grandfather.  He entertained lavishly at Stillorgan and in Dublin, and Dean Jonathan Swift was a frequent guest, despite their political differences.  Eventually they had a falling-out, and as so often, the poet repaid his hospitality with waspish verses about his host:
Positive and overbearing,
Changeful still and still adhering,

Spiteful, peevish, rude, untoward,

Fierce in tongue, in heart a coward.
Judgement weak and passion strong,
Always various, always wrong.”
The 2nd Viscount was succeeded by his only surviving son, John Allen (1708-45), 3rd Viscount Allen.  He seems to have been mugged in the centre of Dublin one night in 1745, and although he fought off his attackers - and killed one of them - he received a wound in his hand which became infected and caused his death a month later.  The Stillorgan estate and other property in Ireland passed to his two surviving sisters, later Lady Carysfort and Lady Newhaven.  The latter had no surviving issue and so the Probys, Earls of Carysfort eventually inherited sole control of Stillorgan, which was let.  The estate was gradually broken up and sold for building from 1777 onwards, although the house continued to be occupied until 1860 and the ruins were not finally demolished until 1887.

When the 3rd Viscount died in 1745 his title passed to John Allen (d.1753), a grandson of the 1st Viscount, who had inherited a small estate at Punchestown, Co. Kildare.  This seems to have been sold after the death of the 4th Viscount in 1753.  His successor was his younger brother, who divided his time between Ireland and England.  He saw service in the British army in the 1750s and 1760s, and was MP for Eye (Suffolk) in the British Parliament 1762-70, but died at his house in Merrion Square, Dublin, in 1816.  The 6th and last Viscount had a thoroughly English upbringing, distinguished himself as an officer in the Guards during Wellington's Peninsula campaign, and then settled into the life of a dandy and man about town in London, acquiring the nickname "King" Allen.  He was described by Capt. Gronow as "a tall, stout, pompous-looking personage, remarkably well got up...His only exercise and usual walk was from White's [Club] to Crockford's [Club], and from Crockford's to White's". When he died unmarried and without issue in 1845, the viscountcy became extinct.

Stillorgan House, Co. Dublin

Drawing of Stillorgan House by H. Verschoyle. Image: National Library of Ireland.

Stillorgan House, from a drawing of c.1830 reproduced in Ball, History of County Dublin, 1902
A new house was built c.1695 as a two-storey block with wings for Colonel John Allen (later 1st Viscount Allen) in place of the original fortified manor house. It was surrounded by extensive gardens covering 13 acres which were laid out in the ‘Dutch style’ with straight avenues, clipped yew trees and box topiary, probably to the designs of an English nurseryman, Bullein, who had nurseries near Dublin. The grounds included three rectangular fish ponds, fed by a stream which flowed to the south of the Lower Kilmacud Road until culverted underground in the 20th century. 

Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, unexecuted design for Stillorgan House, c.1730.

In the years around 1730, the architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce designed a replacement or remodelling of the house in Palladian style for the 2nd Viscount Allen, which was never built, although some of Pearce's designs for the gardens were executed. George Papworth designed a conservatory addition in 1811. The house was pulled down in 1887. 
The Stillorgan obelisk designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, from an engraving of 1795. Image: British Library

In the former grounds there remains a spectacular obelisk, erected on four 'rustick Grotesque' arches, designed in 1727 by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce for the 2nd Viscount Allen. It was intended as a memorial to his wife, but in the event he predeceased her and she was buried elsewhere when she died in 1758. 

The Stillorgan obelisk in 1984. Image: Nicholas Kingsley.
Licenced under the Creative Commons licence.
Descent: sold 1684 to Sir Joshua Allen (fl. 1673-84); to son, Col. John Allen (d. 1726), 1st Viscount Allen; to son, Joshua Allen (1685-1742), 2nd Viscount Allen; to son, John Allen (d. 1745), 3rd Viscount Allen; to sisters, Elizabeth Allen, wife of John Proby (1720-72), 1st Baron Carysfort and Frances, wife of Sir William Mayne (1722-94), 1st Baron Newhaven of Carrick Mayne; it subsequently descended to the Probys of Elton Hall (Hunts), Earls of Carysfort; leased 1754-77 to Rt. Hon. Philip Tisdal and later to Right Hon. James Hewitt (d. 1789), Baron Lifford, Nicholas Le Fevre (fl. 1803), John Verschoyle (d. 1840) and Arthur Lee Guinness (fl. 1860); the grounds were sold off for building from 1777 onwards, and a large number of other gentry houses were built in the area of the former park; the house was allowed to fall into ruin after 1860 and was demolished 1887.

Allen family of Stillorgan, Viscounts Allen

Allen, John (d. c.1641), of Dublin.  Bricklayer and architect; his family emigrated from England to Holland in the late 16th century, and John Allen moved to Ireland at the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign as a factor for the Dutch.  He may be the John Allen, bricklayer, who was admitted a freeman of the City of Dublin in 1630. He married and had issue including:
(1) Sir Joshua Allen (d. 1691), kt. (q.v.).
About 1640 he laid the foundations of a house for himself at Mullynahack, outside the walls of Dublin, which was finished by his son. The house is said to have stood about where Oliver Bond Street is in the modern city.
He died about 1641; in his will, written that year, he left a substantial estate.

Allen, Sir Joshua (d. 1691), kt. Son of John Allen (d. c.1641), bricklayer and his wife Mary.  Merchant of Dublin; Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1673; knighted in Dublin, 29 May 1674. He was involved in speculative building in the city, for example in Capel Street.  During the reign of King James II he went to live on his estate in Cheshire, and following the Glorious Revolution he was involved in making arrangements for the shipment of King William III's troops to Ireland; his estates in Ireland were seized under the Act of General Attainder passed by the Irish Parliament in 1689, but later restored; he returned to Dublin after the battle of the Boyne in 1690. He married Mary (d. 1709), daughter of John Wybrow of Cos. Kerry and Limerick, and sister of Capt. Richard Wybrow of Cheshire and had issue:
(1) John Allen (1661-1726), 1st Viscount Allen (q.v.).
(2) Elizabeth Allen; married Anthony Shephard MP of Newcastle (Co. Longford) and had issue one daughter;
(3) Elinor Allen; married, 12 March 1700, Henry Westenra of Rathleagh, son of Warner Westenra of Dublin and had issue one son and two daughters;
(4) Mary Allen (b. c.1667); married c.1693, Arthur Cooper of Markree Castle (Co. Sligo);
He completed the house called Allen's Court at Mullynahack near Dublin begun by his father, and later lived in one of the first houses around St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. In 1684 he purchased the Stillorgan estate, which descended to his eldest son, and property at Bullock and Dalkey in Co. Kildare, which passed to his younger sons. He also bought an estate at Ashton-upon-Mersey (Cheshire) which seems to have provided the dowry for his daughters.
He died 8 July 1691. His widow died in Dublin, 7 September 1709.

Allen, Col. John (1661-1726), 1st Viscount Allen.  Son of Sir Joshua Allen (d. c.1692) and his wife Mary Whybrow, born 13 February 1660/61. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (matriculated 1677). Served in King William III's army in Ireland c.1690 and was appointed sheriff of Dublin, 1691. MP for Co. Dublin, 1692-95, 1703-13, 1715-17, Co. Carlow, 1695-1703 and Co. Wicklow, 1713-15, in the Irish Parliament. Appointed to Privy Council of Ireland, 9 October 1714; created 1st Baron Allen of Stillorgan and 1st Viscount Allen, 27 August 1717. He married, about 23 July 1684, Mary (1666-after 1697), eldest daughter of Hon. Robert Fitzgerald and sister of Robert Fitzgerald, 19th Earl of Kildare, and had issue:
(1) Joshua Allen (1685-1742), 2nd Viscount Allen (q.v.);
(2) Robert Allen (1687-1741), baptised 12 May 1687; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1704); MP for Carysfort, 1713-14 and Co. Wicklow, 1715-41 in the Irish Parliament; married 16 January 1707, Frances, daughter of Robert Johnson, baron of the exchequer, and had issue including two surviving daughters; died 16 December 1741;
(3) Richard Allen (1691-1745) (q.v.).
He inherited the Stillorgan estate from his father and rebuilt the house in 1695 and St. Brigid's church in Stillorgan, 1706-12. He also expanded the estate, buying the town and lands of Arklow (Co. Wicklow).
He died in London, 8 November and was buried 19 November 1726 at St James, Dublin; his will was proved the same month.

Allen, Joshua (1685-1742), 2nd Viscount Allen.  Eldest son of John Allen (1660-1726), 1st Viscount Allen, and his wife Mary, eldest daughter of Robert Fitzgerald, born 17 September 1685.  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (matriculated, 1701; LLD, 1718); MP for Co. Kildare, 1709-14, 1715-26. Succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount, 8 November 1726. He married, 18 October 1707, Margaret (d. 1758), daughter of Samuel du Pass esq. of Epsom (Surrey) and had issue:
(1) John Allen (1708-45), 3rd Viscount Allen;
(2) Joshua Allen (b. 1717), born June 1717; died young;
(3) Mary Allen; died young;
(4) Margaret Allen; died young;
(5) Catherine Allen; died young;
(6) Elizabeth Allen (1722-83), born 19 July 1722; married, 27 August 1750, John Proby, 1st Baron Carysfort and had issue one son and one daughter; died 18 March 1783;
(7) Frances Allen (d. 1801); married, 15 July 1758, Rt. Hon. Sir William Mayne (1722-94), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Newhaven and had issue one son, who died young.
He inherited the Stillorgan House estate from his father in 1726 and commissioned designs from Sir Edward Lovett Pearce for its remodelling as a Palladian house, which were not executed.  Pearce did, however, build the obelisk and a grotto in the grounds. 
He died at Stillorgan, 5 December and was buried 8 December 1742; his will was proved April 1743. His widow died in London, 4 March and was buried 9 March 1758 at St James, Piccadilly; her will was proved 24 November 1758.

Allen, John (1708-45), 3rd Viscount Allen.  Only son of Joshua Allen (1685-1742), 2nd Viscount Allen and his wife Margaret, daughter of Samuel du Pass of Epsom (Surrey). MP for Carysfort, 1733-42 in the Irish Parliament.  Succeeded his father as 3rd Viscount, 5 December 1742. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the Stillorgan House estate from his father in 1742. At his death his estates passed to his two surviving sisters, but the title passed to his cousin. 
He died on 25 May 1745 from an infected wound in the hand received when he was 'insulted in the public streets by some disorderly dragoons' - one of whom he killed - on 26 April 1745.

Allen, Richard (1691-1745). Youngest son of John Allen (d. 1726), 1st Viscount Allen, and his wife Mary, eldest daughter of Robert Fitzgerald, born 16 July and baptised 22 July 1691.  MP for Athy, 1715-27 and Co. Kildare, 1727-45 in Irish Parliament.  He married Dorothy (d. 1757), daughter and heiress of Maj. Green of Killaghy (Co. Tipperary) and had issue:
(1) John Allen (1726-53), 4th Viscount Allen (q.v.);
(2) Joshua Allen (1728-1816), 5th Viscount Allen (q.v.);
(3) Richard Allen; died young;
(4) Samuel Allen; died young;
(5) Mary Allen; died young;
(6) Dorothy Allen; died young;
(7) Joshua Allen (fl. 1756); Lieutenant of Foot;
(8) Richard Allen (fl. 1756);
(9) Jane Allen (fl. 1756);
(10) Elizabeth Allen; married, 18 December 1767, Capt. Browne.
He died 14 April 1745. His widow died 4 May 1757.

Allen, John (d. 1753), 4th Viscount Allen.  Eldest son of Richard Allen (1696-1745) and his wife Dorothy, daughter and heiress of Maj. Green of Killaghy (Co. Tipperary). Captain in the Army; MP for Co. Wicklow, 1742-45; after taking an active part in politics against the Government he retired from public life. He succeeded his cousin as 4th Viscount Allen, 25 May 1745. He was unmarried and without issue.
He lived at Punchestown (Co. Kildare).
He died at Punchestown, 10 November 1753.

Joshua Allen, 5th Viscount Allen
by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1762
Allen, Joshua (1728-1816), 5th Viscount Allen.  Second son of Richard Allen (1696-1745) and his wife Dorothy, daughter and heiress of Maj. Green of Killaghy (Co. Tipperary), born 26 April 1728. He succeeded his elder brother as 5th Viscount Allen, 10 November 1753. Served in the Army as a Captain in the 37th Regiment, 1758-63 and was wounded at the Battle of Minden, 1759; captain in 1st Foot Guards, 1763-65. MP for Eye (Suffolk), 1762-70; obtained a pension of £600 a year in 1770. He married, 5 August 1781, Frances (c.1759-1833), eldest daughter of Gaynor Barry esq. of Dormstown (Co. Meath) and had issue:
(1) Joshua William Allen (c.1782-1845), 6th Viscount Allen (q.v.);
(2) Frances Elizabeth Allen (d. 1826); died unmarried, 31 January 1826;
(3) Letitia Emily Dorothea Allen (d. 1878); married, 17 May 1806, Hon. & Very Rev. Henry Herbert (1778-1847), Dean of Manchester, son of Henry, 1st Earl of Carnarvon, and had issue two sons and two daughters; she died 14 June 1878.
He died 1 February 1816 at his house in Merrion Square, Dublin. His widow died in London, 11 August and was buried at St James, Westminster, 20 August 1833, and her will was proved the same month.

Allen, Joshua William (c.1782-1845), 6th Viscount Allen. Only son of Joshua Allen (1728-1816), 5th Viscount Allen, born c.1782.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated, 1801). Served under the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula Campaign as an officer in the Guards. For a drawing of him by the Count d'Orsay, see here. He was a famous dandy and known as "King" Allen, but was described by Creevey as "A penniless Lord and Irish pensioner, well behaved and not encumbered with too much principle". He succeeded his father as 6th Viscount Allen, 1 February 1816.
He died and was buried in Gibraltar, 21 September 1845, when the peerage became extinct.


Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages, 1883, p. 5; F.E. Ball, A history of the county of Dublin, vol. 1, 1902, pp. 119-30; G.E. C[okayne], Complete Peerage, 1910, vol. 1, pp. 110-111; E. Malins & Knight of Glin, Lost demesnes, 1976, pp. 7-8; R. Loeber, A biographical dictionary of architects in Ireland, 1600-1720, 1981, p. 13; J. McVeagh, Richard Pococke's Irish Tours, 1995, p. 126 and n.153; J. Howley, The follies and garden buildings of Ireland, 1995, pp. 10-11, 26-27; C. Casey (ed.), The Eighteenth-Century Dublin Town House, 2010, pp. 65, 71.

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive, although it is possible that there are some records among the papers of the Proby family at Elton Hall (Hunts), where Sir Edward Lovett Pearce's designs for Stillorgan are also kept.

Coat of arms

Argent, two bars wavy, azure; on a chief of the latter, an estoile between two escallop shells, or.

1 comment:

  1. This is incredible, thank-you so much!!


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