Joseph Henry Allen (1820 – 1898)

“ALLEN, Joseph Henry, clergyman, educator and author, was born in Northborough, Worcester CO., Mass., Aug. 21, 1820, son of Joseph and Lucy Clark (Ware) Allen. His father came of a Scotch family, which was among the earliest settled at Medfield, Mass., and which still holds the old farm bought from the Indians. His mother was a daughter of the older and a sister of the younger Henry Ware, both professors in the Harvard Divinity School, and among the earlier Unitarian leaders. Her mother was a daughter of Jonas Clark, who was the minister at Lexington, Mass., at the outbreak of the American revolution, and it was to his house that Paul Revere made his famous ride on the eve of the battle, to warn Adams and Hancock, who were visiting there, the latter being a cousin of Mrs. Clark. Joseph H. Allen traced back ten generations of ministers, finding in the seventh generation Peter Bulkley, of Concord, from whom Ralph Waldo Emerson also descended. His father, like most country ministers of that time, combined the two callings of farmer and minister, and Joseph H. Allen was consequently trained to physical toil as well as to habits of study. He was graduated second in his class at Harvard College in 1840, afterwards entering the Harvard Divinity School, from which he was graduated in 1843. He was settled in his first parish in 1843 at Jamaica Plain, now a part of Boston, leaving this in 1847 to take charge of the Unitarian church in Washington, D. C. Heafterwards preached several years in Bangor, Me., which was his last settled parish, though, in later years, he was sent by the American Unitarian Association to short terms of service in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Ithaca, N. Y., and San Diego. Cal. At the time of the civil war be was editor of the “Christian Examiner” for a few years, and during 1887-91 of the “Unitarian Review.” He also taught for many years, and for several years lectured on ecclesiastical history at the Harvard Divinity School. In August, 1881, he was delegate of the American and of the British and Foreign Unitarian associations, at the session of the supreme consistory of the Unitarian churches of Hungary, held in Kolozsvar (Klausenburg), Transylvania; and in July, 1890, he was a member of the Universal Peace Congress in London. Besides fugitive addresses and reviews, including a series of articles on national questions written for the “Christian Examiner” during the civil war, his published volumes are: “Ten Discourses on Orthodoxy” (1849, 2d ed. 1889); “Memorial of Hiram Withington” (1849); “The Great Controversy of States and People” (1851); “Hebrew Men and Times, from the Patriarchs to the Messiah” (1861, 2d ed., with critical introduction, 1879); “Fragments of Christian History to the Founding of the Holy Roman Empire” (1880); “Our Liberal Movement in Theology” (1882); “Christian History in its Three Great Periods” (3 vols., 1883); “Outline of Christian History, A. D. 50-1880” (1884); “Allen and Greeuough Classical Series,” and “Positive Religion, Essays, Fragments and Hints,” etc. He received the degree of D.D. from Harvard University in 1891. Prof. Allen was married at Jamaica Plain, in 1845, to Anna Minot Weld, a descendant of Thomas Welde, first minister of Roxbury, and sister of the late Hon. Stephen M. Weld. She survived him with live children. He died March 20, 1898.”

Source:  The National Cyclopedia of America, Vol. 9, James T. White & Company, New York, 1899, page 286


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