Monthly Archives: May 2015


I was looking through my Allen files today and I consider myself blessed that my ancestor, Samuel Allen, Sr., left court records that prove the ancestry of Thomas Allen. Under normal circumstances, and based on my nearly 40 years of genealogical research experience, very few details would likely have survived under the circumstances had Samuel not intervened.

First, the family story is that Samuel’s son, Samuel, Jr., died in 1799 when he was thrown from a horse and struck his head on a tree. He died intestate, which means it was likely nothing more than an inventory would have been filed by his administrator, with no useful genealogical information included. However, his father took more than a passing interest in what became of his grandchildren, Thomas and Elizabeth. Samuel Sr. was appointed his son’s administrator, which gave him considerable power over the estate.

Court records show that Samuel was accused of keeping back money and goods from his daughter-in-law, Fanny Allen, and a group of men was appointed by the court to investigate. The “why” is unknown, but it is possible that he was attempting to influence Fanny by tightly controlling the purse strings of her late husband’s estate. Fanny remarried John Earl and by 1812, Samuel had been made guardian to Thomas and Elizabeth Allen, his grandchildren. Again, the “why” is unknown. I have found no documents that made claims of neglect against Fanny. It is more likely that Samuel didn’t want Fanny controlling his grandchildren’s income. As a matter of fact, after Samuel’s death, another man was made guardian to Thomas and Elizabeth, which continued the control of their income by someone other than their mother. Having made bequests to his grandchildren in his own will, it is further likely that he didn’t want any of his money going to Fanny, either.

I also owe Samuel for having been kind enough to name Thomas and Elizabeth as the orphans of his late son, Samuel, in his will. That, and similar references, have proved to be some of the only extant documentation of Thomas Allen’s ancestry.

I have long been researching Samuel, Sr.’s parentage. I believe his father was Joseph Allen of Louisa County, Virginia, but anything other than anecdotal evidence has been difficult to come by. Still working on that and I hope to eventually discover enough secondary evidence that the sheer weight of the indirect facts will support the naming of Samuel’s father as Joseph Allen.

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