Arthur Allen (1608–1669)

Arthur Allen became an agent for tobacco merchants in Bristol, England, and arrived in Virginia during the 1640s. He amassed one of the largest plantations in Surry County by the 1660s. There, he built a three story brick house that reflected his status as one of the county's wealthiest men. Allen died in 1669; his house became known as Bacon's Castle after Nathaniel Bacon's followers occupied it during the 1676 insurrection. MORE...

 

Allen was christened at Saint Andrew Parish, Droitwich, Worcestershire, England, and was the son of John Allen. His mother's name is not known. He probably arrived in Virginia during the 1640s as an agent for tobacco merchants trading out of Bristol, in which capacity he made at least one return trip to Bristol. He also dealt with several leading London merchants, among them Micajah Perry, Phillip Perry, and Thomas Lane. By 1649 Allen had settled between Lawnes Creek and Chippokes Creek in the southern part of James City County. When that area became Surry County in 1652, Allen was appointed to the court, and by 1661 he was a member of the quorum. He also served on the vestry of Lawnes Creek Parish.

By the 1660s Allen had acquired more than 2,000 acres of land, making him one of the wealthiest men in the county. As a reflection of his status, he built a large new residence, a three-story Jacobean-style edifice that is thought to be the oldest brick house still standing in the former British colonies of North America. It was probably erected by local craftsmen using local materials and was much less polished in its workmanship than contemporary English country houses, but it made the same kind of statement about its owner's standing in the community. It was called Allen's Brick House during the lifetimes of its first two owners. Early in the nineteenth century it became known as Bacon's Castle because about seventy followers of Nathaniel Bacon occupied it between September 18 and December 28, 1676.

Arthur Allen may have married twice, not once about 1650 as stated in early histories of Surry County and Bacon's Castle; and he probably had at least seven children, not the two or three who are mentioned in some accounts of the family. His first son, Humphrey Allen, was probably born in England early in the 1630s and died in Virginia in 1666. Arthur Allen (ca. 1652–1710) inherited Allen's Brick House, carried on the family name, and had a long and varied political career. Allen's four daughters all married well, with the result that some of the area's most notable persons were descended from him. Mary Long, the wife of the Arthur Long who commanded the company of Bacon's men who occupied Allen's Brick House, was probably yet another of Arthur Allen's daughters.

Allen died late in May or early in June 1669. On May 15 he sat with the county court, but by the middle of June, when the tax list was compiled, his widow, Alice Tucker Allen, was charged with the eleven tithables resident at Allen's plantation. She later married a widower, John Hardy, of Isle of Wight County.

Time Line

  • October 23, 1608 - Arthur Allen is christened at Saint Andrew Parish, Droitwich, Worcestershire, England.
  • 1640s - During this time, Arthur Allen probably arrives in Virginia as an agent for tobacco merchants trading out of Bristol.
  • 1649 - By this year, Arthur Allen has settled between Lawnes Creek and Chippokes Creek in the southern part of James City County.
  • 1652 - Arthur Allen is appointed to the court in the newly created Surry County.
  • 1660s - By this time, Arthur Allen acquires more than 2,000 acres of land, making him one of the wealthiest men in Surry County.
  • 1661 - By this year, Arthur Allen is named a member of the quorum, or a judge for the Surry County court who is required to attend each meeting and case.
  • May–June 1669 - Arthur Allen dies.
  • September 18, 1676–December 28, 1676 - During this time, forces loyal to Nathaniel Bacon occupy the former home of Arthur Allen in Surry County. What had been known as Allen's Brick House came to be called Bacon's Castle.
Further Reading
Gentry, Daphne. "Arthur Allen (ca. 1608–1669)." In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1, John T. Kneebone et al, 72–73. Richmond: The Library of Virginia, 1998.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Gentry, D., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Arthur Allen (1608–1669). (2013, July 8). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Allen_Arthur_1608-1669.

  • MLA Citation:

    Gentry, Daphne and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Arthur Allen (1608–1669)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 8 Jul. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: May 2, 2013 | Last modified: July 8, 2013