Allen, Bennet (DNB00)
ALLEN, BENNET (fl. 1761–1782), miscellaneous writer, was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he took the degree of B.A. 16 Nov. 1757, and that of M.A. 12 July 1760 (Catalogue of Oxford Graduates, p. 9). He subsequently appears to have taken holy orders, for which his writings prove him to have been singularly unfitted, and to have settled in London. Patronised by leaders of society of doubtful reputation, he apparently obtained a livelihood for some time by pandering in the press to the fashionable vices of the age. His first work, a ‘Poem inscribed to his Britannic Majesty,’ published in 1761, shortly after the accession of George III, is unobjectionable; but in 1768 he is generally credited with aiding the son of the Marquis of Granby to defend Lord Baltimore, who was awaiting his trial in Newgate on a charge of rape, by the publication of an anonymous pamphlet entitled ‘Modern Chastity; or the Agreeable Rape, a poem by a young gentleman of sixteen in vindication of the Right Hon. Lord B——e.’ The production chiefly consists of a coarse attack on the Methodist sect, to which the prosecutrix in the case against Lord Baltimore belonged. [See Calvert, George, Lord Baltimore, 1731–1771.] It is attributed to Allen on the fairly certain ground of a contemporary manuscript note in the copy at the British Museum, stating it to be ‘undoubtedly by the well-known Rev. Bennet Allen.’ Horace Walpole (Letters, vi. 44) is believed to refer to this work and to another on a kindred topic, of which Allen is also assumed to be the author, in a letter to the Countess of Ossory, dated 5 Jan. 1774. ‘The present Lord Granby [who had succeeded to the title in 1770],’ he writes, ‘is an author, and has written a poem on “Charity” [i.e. a probable misreading for ‘Chastity’], and in prose a “Modest Apology for Adultery.” . . . They say his lordship writes in concert with a very clever young man, whose name I have forgotten.’ A shilling pamphlet, entitled ‘A Modest Apology for the prevailing Practice of Adultery,’ was announced for publication in August 1773 in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (p. 398), but nothing further is known of it, and it may possibly have been suppressed.
In subsequent years Allen contributed largely to the ‘Morning Post,’ and in an anonymous article, called ‘Characters of Principal Men of the [American] Rebellion,’ which appeared there on 29 June 1779, he vehemently attacked the character of a gentleman named Daniel Dulany, formerly secretary of Maryland. On 1 July the ‘Morning Post’ withdrew the charges against Dulany, but Mr. Lloyd Dulany, a brother of the subject of the alleged libel, challenged its unknown author in the pages of the newspaper. Allen does not appear to have declared himself the writer of the article immediately, but after a long interval a meeting was arranged. On 18 June 1782 the duel was fought, and Dulany was killed. Allen and his second, Robert Morris, surrendered themselves on 5 July of the same year, to answer a charge of manslaughter at the Old Bailey sessions. After a trial, which attracted general public attention, Allen, in spite of the evidence as to his character adduced by Lords Bateman, Mountnorris, and many fashionable ladies, was convicted, and sentenced to a fine of one shilling and six months' imprisonment. Of Allen's later life no account is accessible.[Notes and Queries (3rd series), iii. 251; Annual Register (1782), p. 213; European Magazine, ii. 79; Gent. Mag. lii. 353.]