Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
William Allen (Quaker)
William Allen (August 29, 1770 – September 30, 1843) was a prominent Quaker scientist and philanthropist in England. He was a founding member of the Askesian Society. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and founder of the pharmaceutical company Allen and Hanbury which grew steadily until acquired by Glaxo Wellcome in the 1980's.
Allen was the oldest son of Job and Margaret (Stafford) Allen. His father was a silk manufacturer and devout Quaker.
In 1792 he was working as a clerk, but he went to lectures at Guy's Hospital and St. Thomas's Hospital. He also attended the meetings of various scientific societies. In 1794 he became a member of the Chemical Society of Guy's Hospital.
In 1795 he became a partner in the chemical (pharmaceutical) company that he had been working in. It was then named Mildred and Allen.
In 1796 Allen joined the Physical Society at Guy's Hospital. That same year he and some like-minded scientists formed the Askesian Society to encourage scientific research and experimentation. Later that year Allen married Mary Hamilton. Ten months later she died, two days after their daughter, also named Mary, was born.
In 1797 the chemical company became Allen and Howard. Allen's friend and partner Luke Howard opened a second laboratory for the development of new chemicals. During a famine that year Allen started the Soup Society to provide food for starving people.
When William Allen's father Job died in 1800, the latter's assistant took over the silk business, as William had already decided to keep working in the field of chemistry.
In 1804 he became a close friend of Humphrey Davy.
Allen was elected to membership Committee of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1805.
Howard and Allen became separate firms in 1806. Later that year Allen married Charlotte Hanbury.
In 1807 Allen became a member of the Royal Society.
In 1810 he became treasurer of the Royal Lancastrian Society, whose aim was to open progressive schools in England and abroad. It was renamed the British and Foreign School Society in 1814, and Allen was again its treasurer. In 1810 he also helped found the Peace Society.
William and Charlotte Allen visited the continent in 1816. Charlotte died during their travels.
From 1818-1820 Allen toured Europe with the Quaker evangelist Stephen Grellet.
In 1823 Allen's daughter Mary and her husband Cornelius Hanbury had a son, but Mary died nine days later. The social activist Elizabeth Fry nursed the baby after that.
Allen married for the third time in 1827 to a wealthy widow named Grizell Birbeck.
Allen's wife Grizell died in 1835.
During five months in 1840 Elizabeth Fry, Samuel Gurney and William Allen toured the Europe.
William Allen died on September 30, 1843.
Nicolle, Margaret, William Allen: Quaker Friend of Lindfield (1770-1843)
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