Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Allen, John Romilly

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ALLEN, JOHN ROMILLY (1847–1907), archæologist, born in London on 9 June 1847, was the eldest son of George Baugh Allen (d. 1898), a special pleader of the Inner Temple, of Cilrhiw, near Narberth, by his wife Dorothea Hannah, third daughter of Roger Eaton of Pare Glas, Pembrokeshire. John was educated at King's College school (1857–60), Rugby school (1860–3), and King's College, London (1864–6). In 1867 he was articled to G. F. Lyster, engineer in chief to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, with whom he remained until 1870. He was next employed as resident engineer to the Persian railways of Baron de Reuter and afterwards in supervising the construction of docks at Leith and at Boston, Lincolnshire. Meanwhile he was interested in archaeology, and to this pursuit, and particularly to the study of prehistoric antiquities and of pre-Norman art in Great Britain, he devoted the rest of his life. His earliest contribution to 'Archæologia Cambrensis' ('A description of some cairns on Barry Island') appeared in April 1873 ; he joined the Cambrian Archaeological Association in 1875, was elected a member of the general committee in 1877, became one of two editors of the 'Journal' in 1889, and was sole editor from 1892 until his death. Having begun with the antiquities of Wales, Allen from 1880 gave special attention to those of Scotland also ; in 1883 he was elected fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, and in 1885 was Rhind lecturer in archaeology in the University of Edinburgh. In England, he became F.S.A. in 1896, editor of the 'Reliquary and Illustrated Archæologist' in 1893; and Yates lecturer in archæology in University College, London, for 1898. Allen had in a high degree the patience, thoroughness, and insight of the scientific archæologist. Possessed of a certain sardonic humour, he was skilful in exposition and fertile in illustration. In knowledge of early Celtic art and ability to unravel its history he was without a rival. He was unmarried, and during his later years made his home in London, where he died on 5 July 1907. In addition to his numerous contributions to archaeological journals, Allen published: 1. 'Theory and Practice in the Designs and Construction of Dock Walls,' 1876. 2. 'Early Christian Symbolism in Great Britain and Ireland' (Rhind lectures), 1887. 3. 'The Monumental History of the Early British Church,' 1889. 4. 'The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland,' Edinburgh, 1903. 5. 'Celtic Art in Pagan and Christian Times,' 1904.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, llth edit. (1906); Who's Who, 1907; The Times, 13 July 1907; Archæologia Cambrensis, sixth series, vii., Oct. 1907, 441-2.]

J. E. L.