ALLEN, Robert

1745 - 1835

Robert Allen was baptised at Lowestoft, Suffolk on 29 September 1745, son of Edward Allen and his wife Anne née Buckle, who died in 1747. At the age of twelve, Allen was employed as an artist in the Lowestoft China Factory at Crown Street, Lowestoft being given the number 5, by which his work can be identified, it is likely that he was apprenticed to the firm and about ten years later painted a tea service for his aunt, Elizabeth Buckle. He married in 1783, Ann Landifield, but within two years was a widower, before her marriage his wife may also have been a decorator at the Lowestoft factory, as in the ‘Seago Sale’ of 1873 was a coffee jug, 'formerly the property of Daniel Landerfield[sic], and made in the factory by an acquaintance of his sister by whom it was decorated'. Allen married secondly in 1785, Tryphoena Richmond (1751-1831), a daughter of one of the original owners of the factory, James Richmond and his wife Mary née Dixon. They had five daughters one of whom, a twin, died in infancy. Allen showed a natural aptitude for drawing and painting, all his known work being in blue and, according to his grandson, Robert Allen Johnson, (Chaffers reports) he became 'foreman of the manufactory'. Allen was thoroughly acquainted with all the processes, superintended under Mr Browne all the mixing of the earths, and assisted him in carrying out his experiments on the hard paste, mixed the colours employed in the decoration, and eventually became manager of the works. When the firm was nearing its end, but certainly by 1794, Allen had set up a gloss kiln in the town, decorating wares which he obtained from other pottery and porcelain manufacturers and had a shop where he carried on business as a stationer & china dealer and was a seller of Rackham’s Pocket Book 1802-1811. He also developed a great interest in stained glass, making and donating the east window of the nave of St Margaret's Church, Lowestoft in 1819, and in his later years was better known for his skills with stained glass rather than porcelain. Robert Allen was buried at St Margaret’s church, Lowestoft on 30 January 1835, aged 90. The stained-glass window he gave St Margaret's was replaced in 1891 but part of it was placed in the south chancel of the church.

Works by This Artist