ALLEN, Arthur (by 1509-57/58), of Wantage, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1509. m. by 1539 Joan, da. of John Speke of White Lackington, Som., wid. of Thomas Broke (d. 9 Dec. 1537) of Bristol, Glos.1

Offices Held


The little that has been discovered about Arthur Allen suggests that he was a man of some enterprise but of little wealth or standing. Although styled ‘gentleman’ in a lawsuit and in his will, he has not been found in any pedigree. He may have come from a yeoman family settled near Wantage in the villages of East Hendred and Harwell.2

The first reference to Allen occurs in a suit in the court of requests dating from between 1537 and 1540. The lease of a ‘capital messuage’ and lands in Hinton, Northamptonshire, which he had acquired by 1530 was disputed by one William Warren, and when Allen sent his servant and stepson to distrain Warren’s cattle they were, he alleged, nearly murdered by Warren’s wife, daughter and servants, and he himself, ‘being but a lame man’, was in danger of being waylaid. Although in these proceedings and in his will Allen’s domicile is given as Wantage, he evidently lived for some time at Hinton; in 1557 he was to bequeath his lease of Hinton to one of his executors, and all his goods at Hinton, which were then in the custody of one Robert Valliant, to his sister and cousin, Anne and Richard Allen.3

Allen doubtless owed his return for Ludgershall in November 1554 to Sir Richard Brydges, who had the custody of the borough. The two men were neighbours, for Brydges lived a few miles from Wantage at West Shifford; they had one link in William Hyde of South Denchworth near Wantage, who held land of Brydges at Kintbury and whose son, William Hyde, Allen was to appoint an overseer of his will in 1557, and another in (Sir) David Broke, who was related by marriage to both of them. This did not mean, however, that they saw eye to eye in politics, for whereas Broke and Brydges were supporters of the Marian regime, Allen was to quit the Parliament of November 1554 before its dissolution, thereby incurring prosecution in the King’s bench, although after the despatch of a venire facias to the sheriff no further process was taken against him. In the information against him Allen is described as a merchant of Bristol: as his wife’s first husband had been a Bristolian with some interest in trade, Allen perhaps occupied Thomas Broke’s house in the city and carried on this business during the minority of his stepchildren, but since he came from an area renowned for its kerseys he may well have been a cloth merchant trading between Berkshire and Bristol.4

Allen was a sick man on 1 Aug. 1557 when he made his will. After bequeathing his soul to God, he left 8d. to the cathedral at Salisbury, and 20s. ‘towards the mending of the antiphoner’ in Wantage church. He left his cousin Richard Allen garments, bedding and a silver salt double gilt, and remembered his servants and the poor. He named the parson of Letcombe and George Clifford executors, and William Hyde and another neighbour, Thomas Yate, overseers. Allen gave his wife a life interest in the residue of all his goods, which were to be held by the executors, with remainder to her four children; if she should fall out with the executors, they were to enjoy the goods for her lifetime. Allen’s will was proved on 13 Feb. 1558.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. R. Johnson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Req.2/4/86; PCC 8 Noodes; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. iii. 231; Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 15.
  • 2. Req.2/4/86; A. L. Humphreys, East Hendred, 65-66.
  • 3. Req.2/4/86, 6/179, 282/8.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xiv; KB 27/1176, rex roll 17; G. D. Ramsay, Wilts. Woollen Ind. 19.
  • 5. PCC 8 Noodes.