John Allen was born in Wilmot, Nova Scotia on 17 June 1784. He was the only son of Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Allen who commanded the 2nd Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers during the American Revolution. After the war, he moved his family first to Nova Scotia and then to New Brunswick where he received a grant of 2,000 acres of land at Kingsclear, just north of Fredericton.
Following the Chesapeake Affair of 22 June 1807, war with the United States appeared eminent. Two battalions of militia were embodied to help defend the province. John Allen was a captain in Colonel Saunders, battalion. Allen adapted well to military life and, when the militia was stood down in 1808, it was written that…
“Captain John Allen has gained much credit and he lays down his regimentals with much regret.”
His next opportunity to serve came during the War of 1812. As the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot was preparing to leave the province for the Canadas, a new unit called the New Brunswick Fencibles was being raised to replace them. Allen was gazetted a captain in this new unit in 1813. He served with his unit in New Brunswick until after the war ended and it was disbanded in 1816. Unlike many, he did not receive a land grant in recognition of his service after the war. Instead, he waited until 1849 to receive a grant of 800 acres.
Presumably, he inherited his father’s land after his death in 1806. In addition to farming this land, he remained active in the military. In 1821, he was the major commanding the 1st Battalion of York County Militia, a unit previously commanded by his father. In 1823, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and continued to command the unit until 1831. He then took command of the 2nd Battalion of the York Militia both as a lieutenant colonel (1831 – 1862) and a colonel (1862-1867). In 1833, he was appointed the Adjutant General of the New Brunswick Militia and the Inspecting Field Office of the militia. He held this post for several years before becoming the Quartermaster General of the New Brunswick Militia in early 1839.
Like many militia officers, he was also active in other aspects of government life. This was both an exercise of civic responsibility and a source of income. He represented York County in the House of Assembly from 1809 to 1847. In 1845, he was appointed to the Executive Council. He was also a judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas.
John Allen married three times. His first wife was Ann Blair who died in 1822. Their son, Sir John Campbell Allen, became a noted judge. His second wife, Jane, died in 1829. He married Lydia Vail in 1835 and they had seven children.
John Allen died at Kingsclear on 29 April 1875 at the age of 91. He was buried in the Old Burying Ground in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
David Facey-Crowther. The New Brunswick Militia 1787-1867. Fredericton: New Brunswick Historical Society and New Ireland Press, 1990.
Isabel Louise Hill. The Old Burying Ground, Fredericton, N.B. Vol. 2. Fredericton Heritage Trust, 1918.
Joseph Wilson Lawrence. The Judges of New Brunswick and Their Times. Fredericton: Acadiensis Press, 1983.
Veteran SummaryJohn Allen
Captain, New Brunswick Fencibles
Place of Birth
Wilmot, NS, CAN
Place of Death
Kingsclear, NB, CAN
Died on: 24 APR 1875
Reason: Old Age
Location of Grave
The Old Burying Ground, 500 Brunswick Street
Fredericton, ON, CAN
Latitude: 45.9600411N Longitude: -66.642594