ALLEN, James 1683-1746. Master of Dulwich College, 1721-1746. In 1741 he founded and endowed the Dulwich Reading School. The school was financed with the rents received from Allen’s purchase of six houses at Kensington Gravel Pits. The last of these houses was sold as recently as 1996. The school, or more accurately schools, were founded to provide education for poor boys and girls living within a one-mile radius. They were located in an inn, originally called The Bricklayers Arms and later renamed The French Horn. In 1842, the endowment was diverted solely for the education of girls (the boys benefited from the opening of the Grammar School in the village) and in 1878 the school was renamed James Allen’s Girls School.
James Allen came from a family with strong Jacobite connections and his sister married Lord Pitsligo who raised troops in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie. James Allen was described as being 6 feet tall, and ‘skilful as a skater, a jumper, athletic and humane’. He was an able administrator, economising on the previous ‘open house’ policy that existed at the College and built up a cash balance for the Foundation. He used some of his family’s money as a loan to rebuild the east wing of the (old) College in 1738/9.