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Friday, May 11, 2012

The Allen Family - Melbourne 19th Century

The reason why I have been researching this Allen family is that Fanny Allen married my Great Great Grandfather Edmund Harrison after he had left my Great Great Grandmother Ellen Lonergan and her children and had also had children prior to that with another young Irish woman by the name of Jane McGee.  I found the fact that Edmund could so casually take up with a young woman produce several children and then move on to the next one rather callous and cold behaviour. Fanny Allen was a 16 year old orphan on the 31st May in 1878 when Edmund married her at All Saints Church in St Kilda in Melbourne. Edmund even had the temerity to put Fanny's fathers occupation as a gentleman, when in fact he had been a Publican who had died when she was quite young. His own father was also described as a Gentleman, when if fact he was a Merchant. Perhaps his rise to the middle-classes meant being a gentleman was a more appropriate title.

Fanny's parents were John Allen, a Publican originally from Sheffield in Yorkshire, England and Hannah Maher (Meagher) of Roscrea, Tipperary, Ireland. John Allen would have been born about 1829 and came to Melbourne around 1851 and married Hannah in 1852 according to the St Peter's Church of England records Registration no. 29498. Hannah may have been born about 1836, the records are conflicting about dates. He and Hannah had a number of children:

  1. John Francis Allen died age 8 Collingwood 1862 registration 7006 so was born about 1854. According to The Argus he was buried at Melbourne Cemetery on Wednesday the 23rd July 1862 at 4 o'clock. He was taken from his residence at Parliamentary Hotel, Spring St. The undertaker was John Daley.
  2. Henry Arthur Allen died age 5 Melbourne 1860 registration 4751. From The Argus Newspaper it stated he died on 31st May at the Olive Branch Hotel in LaTrobe St.
  3. Alfred Allen died age 2 Collingwood 1860 Registration 724, so was born about 1858.
  4. Ann Born??Died before her father died.
  5. Frederick Allen born 10 February 1859 according to The Argus at The Olive Branch Hotel.Registration No 11304
  6. Fanny Allen Born Melbourne 1860 Registration 18278. Fanny Harrison died age 35 Melbourne east Hospital in 1896. Registration 6941. From The Argus Fanny was born on the 3rd November at the Olive Branch Hotel, LaTrobe and Stephen St.
  7.  Frank aged 12 in 1873 according to father's death certificate so makes him born about 1861.
  8. Mary Josephine Allen  Born on 27th November 1863 at the Royal Surrey Hotel in Bourke St, Melbourne. Registration 4104.
  9.  Henry according to father's death certificate aged 8 so would have been born about 1865. He later died at Fitzroy North in 1906.
  10. Hannah Allen Parents  born on the 10th November 1866 at the Carlisle Hotel, Bourke St, registration 9783. Hannah died age 21 mths Melbourne 1868 Registration 4627
  11. James Joseph Allen  born at the Carlisle Hotel on 15th February 1868.  Registration 10831. He later died in 1896 at Fitzroy North.
  12. Albert Allen Parents  Born Sth Melbourne 1869 Registration 17346.
  13. Alf found that he died in 1920 at Carlton aged 49. That puts him born about 1871.

    Trove Digitised Newspapers was an invaluable resource to gather information about this family including the whereabouts at the births and deaths of members of the family.

     Further on from that John Allen died on 27th December 1873 at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne in the Albert Ward. Deaths at Alfred Hospital is another good list to check out. His death was caused from a disease of the heart brought on from Alcoholism of which he had suffered for ten years. He was the son of John soft?. Goodsman and Mary Allen. He was buried at Melbourne Cemetery on 2nd January 1874. According to The Argus he was at the Sussex Hotel, Elizabeth St, Melbourne at the time of his death.  His wife Hannah died a few years later on 23rd July 1876 at Cotham Rd, Kew, the daughter of an Unknown Meagher who had been a farmer. The alcohol seems to have been the death of her too as she succumbed to a disease of the liver that she had for a considerable time. Frederick her son of 97 Elizabeth St Melbourne was the informant. Hannah was buried at Melbourne Cemetery on the 24th July at quarter to 3 o'clock by John Daley Undertaker. She had been a resident of the Duke of Sussex Hotel, Elizabeth St, Melbourne.
    Some other useful information was gathered from Probate of Hannah Allen I was able to download from PROV . She died intestate and Probate was granted to Mary Ryan (widow) of Johnston St, Fitzroy. Mary Ryan according to the documents was the sister of Hannah. As Hannah had liabilities more than the assets from the Duke of Sussex Hotel she would have had to settle these and take charge of the youngest children of the Allen family.

    To find a little more information about the families connection to Hotels in Melbourne I went to the State Library of Victoria and looked at the Cole/Tetlow Index of Hotel Records. This showed John Allen having licence of the Olive Branch from 1858 to 1861. I also found a digitised old map of Melbourne on the State Library site and was able to ascertain that the Olive Branch Hotel was at the top end of LaTrobe St on the corner of Stephen's St (now called Exhibition St) which is just down from Spring St. He went to the Parliamentary Hotel, Lonsdale St in 1861. John Allen had the Royal Surrey Hotel licence in 1863/64. He is then listed as having the Carlisle Hotel, Bourke St 1866/67. John was then listed at the Duke of Sussex Hotel, Elizabeth St in 1872/73 which was at the time of his death. His wife Hannah is then listed as having the licence in 1874 until her death.

     So what happened to Fanny?  Well maybe Edmund decided he needed to get out of town for awhile. So he hopped on a ship and was off to Auckland in New Zealand working as a journalist. However I have been unable to ascertain exactly what he was working on. I did however find a  birth registered (one of the only ones he actually registered) in the New Zealand BDM index . I very quickly ordered that record. George Berkeley Harrison was born on the 22nd August 1879 at Turner St, Auckland. Edmund was aged 50 at the time. Edmund and Fanny apparently had a daughter Violet Dunant in New Zealand as I ascertained later from British Census records. Edmund seems to have dumped poor Fanny back in Melbourne and taken the children back to England as I later found him in the 1891 census boarding with daughters Violet and Constance. Who is Constance you ask? Well Edmund obviously had another liasion somewhere along the way and took the child with him to England. Unfortunately, Fanny must have been left to struggle to make ends meet as I found her dying on 11th June 1896 in the Melbourne Hospital of acute pneumonia, phthisis and exhaustion at the age of 35. She was buried on the 13th June at the Melbourne General Cemetery.

    So Edmund happily went back to London and retired to live to a ripe old age of 92 while the women he had used all died quite young Jane at 57, Ellen at 55 and Fanny at just 35.

Violet taken around 1905 and kindly given to me by Phillip Bury
     As to what happened to Fanny's children George Berkeley seems to have disappeared rumoured to have gone to America and died in an earthquake. Violet stayed single and seemed to travel a bit she died in a lovely home in Cannes, France 17 April 1950.


  1. What a sad story especially from the point of view of the women. Imwonder what he told his daughters.

    1. Yes it is very sad and that it has taken this long for our families to find each other not knowing what had actually happened.