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Royal Naval Biography/Allen, Charles


Is descended from Captain William Allen, of the Bonaventure 50, who, in 1696, retook the British settlements in Hudson’s Bay; and, on his return home, was mortally wounded in action with a French private ship of war. A medal which he obtained from Pope Innocent II. is now in the possession of Commander Allen, whose grandfather died captain of the Mary yacht, in 1752; and whose father, the late William Allen, Esq., was many years in the Stamp Office, Somerset Place, and a Director of Greenwich Hospital.

The subject of this sketch was born at Blackheath, co. Kent, July 22d, 1779; and embarked as midshipman on board the Diomede 44, Captain Matthew Smith, in May, 1793. On the 2d Aug. 1795, he suffered shipwreck, near Trincomalee[1]; and we subsequently find him serving under Captain Alan Hyde (afterwards Lord) Gardner, in the Heroine frigate, at the reduction of the Dutch settlements in Ceylon. On the 18th June, 1799, he was promoted from the flag-ship of Vice-Admiral Rainier, commander-in-chief on the East India station, into the Victorious 74, Captain William Clark, with whom he returned home in 1803[2]. His next appointment was to the Spencer 74, Captain the Hon. Robert Stopford; which ship he was obliged to leave, in consequence of receiving a severe injury, which rendered him incapable of serving afloat for upwards of two years. In Jan. 1806, he was appointed to the signal station at Selsea; and in the ensuing autumn, to the Thetis frigate. Captain (now Rear-Admiral) Gage, then employed as a cruiser in the North Sea. From Aug. 1807 until Sept. 1808, he was again on half-pay, owing to a violent attack of rheumatism; and from the latter period until his advancement to the rank of commander, he served under the flag of Lord Gardner, in the Bellerophon 74, Captain Samuel Warren, on the Baltic station. The service for which he was promoted is officially detailed at p. 369 et seq. of Suppl. Part III.; the thanks of his commander-in-chief were conveyed to him and his gallant companions, in a general memorandum of which the following is a copy:

H.M.S. Victory,July 9th, 1809.

“The commander-in-chief cannot too highly extol the valiant conduct displayed by the officers and men belonging to part of the squadron under his orders, in the late attack made upon the enemy’s flotilla, off Percola Point, and the intrepid gallantry with which they boarded and brought off six gun-boats, carrying heavy metal, and a complement of men nearly double their numbers; he sincerely deplores the loss of Lieutenant Hawkey, or the Implacable, and of Lieutenant Stirling;, of the Prometheus, with the other brave men who fell in the execution of this important service: so brillant an achievement cannot but deeply impress the enemy with the superiority of the British navy, and the undaunted courage with which they are ever animated in the service of their King and Country.

“The commander-in-chief takes this opportunity of returning his sincere thanks to Lieutenant Allen, of the Bellerophon, and the other officers and men who so highly distinguished themselves on this occasion, which he requests Captain Martin will communicate to them.

(Signed)James Saumarez.”

Mr. Allen’s commission as commander was dated back to July 7th, 1809, the day on which the above exploit was performed; but, wanting interest, he has ever since been unemployed.

  1. See Vol. II. Part I. p. 74.
  2. On her arrival in the chops of the channel, the Victorious encountered a severe gale of wind, and was obliged to bear up for Lisbon, where she was condemned and broken up.