First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Harry James ALLEN (1881–1916)

Harry James Allen was born in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire in 1881, the son of Spencer Henry Stephen Allen (born in Wootton near Woodstock in 1855) and Ellen Bartlett (born in Wootton near Woodstock in 1856 and baptised there on 30 November 1856).

When Harry’s parents were married at Wootton on 22 October 1878, his father was described as being from Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire and his mother from Woodleys. They had seven children:

  • Alick Spencer Allen (born in Wootton near Woodstock in 1879/80, reg. first quarter of 1880)
  • Harry James Allen (born in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire in 1881, reg. second quarter)
  • Ernest John Bartlett Allen (born in New Hinksey, Oxford in 1884, reg. second quarter)
  • Ellen Mary Allen (born in Leamington, Warwickshire in 1889, reg. third quarter)
  • Reginald George Allen (born in St Aldate’s, Oxford in 1895/6, reg. first quarter of 1896)
  • Edith Jane Allen (born in St Aldate’s, Oxford in 1899, reg. second quarter)
  • Wilfred Edward Allen (born in St Aldate’s, Oxford in 1900, reg. third quarter).

Harry’s father Spencer Allen, who was was a butcher, and his mother Ellen began their married life in their home village of Wootton near Woodstock, but by the time of the 1881 census they had moved to Clapton Row, Bourton-on-the-Water with their one-year-old son Alick.

Harry himself was born at Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire shortly after the 1881 census.

By the time their next son was born in 1884, they were living at New Hinksey, now part of south Oxford but then in Berkshire. By 1889 they had moved to Leamington in Warwickshire.

At the time of the 1891 census Harry (10) was at school, living at 110 Regent Street in Leamington with his father Spencer (35), who was employed as manager of a butcher's shop, his mother Ellen (34), and his siblings Alick (11), Ernest (7), and Ellen (1).

By 1895 they were back in Oxford, this time in St Aldate’s, and Harry's three youngest siblings were born there.

By the time of the 1901 census Harry (19), who was now a butcher's assistant, had gone to live at 32 James street in east Oxford with his uncle Harry Holloway, who was a grocer's assistant, and his wife Elizabeth. His father Spencer (45) now had his own butcher's shop at 1 Speedwell Street and was living over the shop with his wife Ellen (44) and five of their other children: Ernest (17), who was a picture framer, and Ellen (11), Reginald (5), Edith (2), and Wilfred (eight months).

Harry’s father, Spencer Henry Allen, died in Oxford at the age of 47 in the fourth quarter of 1902.

♥ In the third quarter of 1908 in Oxford, Harry James Allen married Amelia Mattock. Born in New Headington on 20 March 1880 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 27 June, she was the daughter of the famous rose-grower John Mattock. They had two children:

  • John Henry Allen (born in Gardiner Street, New Headington on 5 October 1909 and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel in Tyndale Street, East Oxford on 5 January 1910)
  • Mary Margaret Allen (born in Headington on 25 December 1916 and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel in Tyndale Street, East Oxford on 28 February 1917).

Harry and his wife were living at The Hollies in Gardiner Street (then called South Street) in Highfield parish when their son John was baptised in 1909. The 1911 census shows Harry (30) and Amelia (33) living on the east side of Gardiner Street: Harry was no longer a butcher, but had evidently joined the Mattock family business and was working as a florist and fruiterer, assisted in his shop by his wife.

Meanwhile Harry's widowed mother Ellen Allen in 1911 was still running the butcher’s shop at 1 Speedwell Street. Her four youngest children were still at home: Ellen Mary (21) was an assistant saleswoman for the Singer Sewing Machine Company; Reginald (15) was a boy assistant in the Bodleian Library; and Edith (12) and Wilfred (10) were still at school. Harry’s other brother Ernest (27) was now a married man with a wife and child, living in Huddersfield and working as a borer for a bobbin turner.

Poppy During the First World War, Harry James Allen served as a Private in the Army Service Corps (Canteens) (Service No. A/394554). He died in Mesopotamia (Iraq) at the age of 37 on 18 November 1918.

He is buried in the Basra War Cemetery (III.S.11), and his war grave there has the added words “I HOPE TO MEET MY PILOT FACE TO FACE WHEN I HAVE CROSSED THE BAR”: 40% of war graves bear such a personal message (for which families had to pay 3½d per letter) after the main inscription.

He is remembered on the roll of honour of All Saints’ Church, Highfield.


All Saints' board

Harry’s widow
  • Mrs Amelia Allen was listed at their Gardiner Street home in Kelly’s Directory of 1919. She married her second husband Albert Harris in Oxford in the first quarter of 1922, and they lived at the present 43 Osler Road (then called 21 Manor Road) in Old Headington. Mrs Harris is listed at the house by 1945, and she was still there in 1960.
Harry’s mother
  • Mrs Ellen Allen was living at 20 Alma Place when she died in 1921 at the age of 65, and her funeral was at St Aldate's Church on 14 December.
Harry’s son
  • John Harry Allen married Beatrice F. E. Washbrook in Oxford in the fourth quarter of 1933.
Harry’s brother
  • Ernest John Bartlett Allen (born 1884) married Matilda Andrews (born in Ledbury, Herefordshire in 1879) in the Fulham registration district in 1904. Their daughter Doris Allen was born in Ledbury in 1905/6. The family was living at 12 New Street, Horley, Huddersfield at the time of the 1911 census.

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