ALLEN, Dr John 1771-1843. Known as ‘Holland House’ Allen. He studied medicine in Edinburgh, then moved to London, where he became the personal physician to Lord Holland, with special responsibility for Holland’s delicate son Charles Richard Fox. After a two year Grand Tour with Allen, the boy was restored to health, and Allen’s medical duties came to take a relatively minor place in his life. Instead he developed his interests in philosophy, literature and historical research. He became a distinguished writer on political and historical matters. He was particularly interested in the history of Anglo-Saxon England and in the work of the Record Commission and was instrumental in the formation of the Public Record Office. He contributed forty-one articles to The Edinburgh Review.

John Allen became indispensable at Holland House, while Lord Holland became increasingly crippled with gout. Allen assumed duties of co-host, sitting at the end of the dining table and carving the joint. He became friends with Brougham and Melbourne, and William IV dined at the house four times between 1830 and 1834 as later did the entire Whig Cabinet. Allen was described by Lord Byron as ‘the best-informed and one of the ablest men’ he knew.

Allen was Warden of Dulwich College from 1811 and assumed the Mastership in 1820. Clearly he was absent from Dulwich far more often than its Statutes permitted, and cannot be said to have guarded the College entirely wisely during his years of office. His neglect of the education of the boys was excused on the grounds of the poor quality of the boys that the Foundation parishes sent him. However, there is no denying that he looked after their material comfort. He re-housed them in a large, lofty room, each with his own bed instead of sharing as before.

Brian Green