Benjamin Haigh Allen (1793-1829)

BIOGRAPHICAL STUB
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Benjamin Haigh Allen was a businessman who founded Holy Trinity Church.

Biography

He was born on 31 March 1793, the son of Thomas Allen and his wife Martha (daughter of Thomas Haigh of Gledholt).

He married Sarah Whitacre, daughter of the late John Whitacre of Woodhouse, on 31 October 1814.[1] and was given possession of Greenhead Hall by his father. The couple had no known children.

He founded Holy Trinity Church (built 1816-19) at a total cost of around £16,000.

Benjamin Haigh Allen died aged 36 on 10 May 1829.

Obituary

The Christian Observer for the Year 1829 (1830), pages 389-91:

To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

B. H. ALLEN, ESQ.

Permit me to record in your pages, for the edification of your readers, a few particulars respecting a faithful servant of Christ, whose sudden decease, at the early age of thirty-six years, has excited, and deservedly, the deepest sympathy, not only in the fondly attached circle of his family and friends, but throughout the densely populous district in which he resided.

The late Benjamin Haigh Allen, Esq. of Greenhead, near Huddersfield, the lamented individual to whom I allude, and who was taken to his heavenly rest on the 10th of last May, in the full vigour of his life and usefulness, was born at Thorp, in the parish of Almondbury, in the West Riding of the county of York, March 31, 1793. From his childhood his disposition was mild and amiable; his character was marked by generosity, candour, and simplicity; and he was enterprising and ardent in all his pursuits. These qualities, which endeared him to his youthful companions, and ensured him in after-life the esteem of all who knew him, when ennobled by the grace of God and directed into their proper channel, rendered him the uncompromising defender of truth, the liberal supporter of every cause which proposed for its object the glory of God, the promotion of true religion, and the common good of mankind.

Having received his education at Macclesfield school, he returned to his paternal roof, and entered upon a mercantile life; which however he early quitted, in consequence of having come into the unrestrained possession, in his nineteenth year, of a very ample fortune by the death of his uncle. At this critical point in his life freed from parental restraint — possessed of a large estate-courted by the smiles of the gay — having in his hands the ready means of self-gratification — and being at an age when the passions are in full buoyancy, and the world is wont to put on its most alluring garb,-had he set forward in a wrong direction, the first step might have been fatal: and the talents, given to be consecrated to God, might have ministered only to self-indulgence, to the pomp and luxury of life, and to his eternal ruin. It pleased, however, the Giver of every good and perfect gift to implant in his mind holier purposes and desires; for no sooner did he become possessed of wealth, than he was brought to feel his accountableness for the use of it; and far from being elated by prosperity, he entertained a salutary fear lest he should become an unfaithful steward of the deposit committed to his charge. About this period of his life, he read Doddridge’s Rise and Progress of Religion, to which invaluable treatise he referred his first convictions of the heinous nature of sin, and his fervent desires after that eternal life which is the gift of God in Jesus Christ. He rose from the perusal of it with feelings of deep concern for his everlasting welfare; nor did these feelings evaporate — for he engaged in the work of his salvation with intense earnestness, and entered into a solemn covenant, or rather a ratification of his baptismal covenant, to devote himself to the service of his God and Saviour. A document to this effect has been found among his papers since his decease, drawn up after the plan re commended by Doddridge, signed with his hand and sealed with his seal The advantages of the peculiar mode of stipulation urged by Doddridge have been often questioned; but in the case of Mr. Allen, this solemn ratification was certainly at tended with much spiritual benefit.

In the year 1814, Mr. Allen was united in marriage to Sarah, the fourth daughter of the late John Whitane of Woodhouse, Esq.; a lady of sentiments congenial with his own; and the result was an abundant measure of domestic happiness. Immediately after his marriage, as before noticed, he withdrew from the cares of business; considering that God had already bestowed upon him as much of this world’s goods as it was expedient for him to possess; and being desirous of having his time more entirely at his own command, not to dissipate it in idleness or unprofitable pursuits, but that he might have greater leisure and opportunity for doing good. The manner in which he spent his days will shew that this was no idle wish or vain resolve. Among other important engagements, he entered with ardour upon the office of a magistrate, which, in the populous neighbourhood in which he resided, could not be otherwise than laborious, and often painful; especially as he had fallen upon troublous times. The period from 1816 to 1820 was marked by much disturbance on the district around Huddersfield; and he was soon called to take an active part in unravelling a plot which disturbed the public peace, and aimed at nothing short of a national revolution. His unwearied exertions and vaIuable services at this period will not soon be forgotten. The firmness, with which he repressed disorder, and the mildness with which he exercised authority, not only raised his character, but greatly contributed to the return of tranquillity in his neighbourhood. On the magisterial bench his loss will be much felt, and deeply deplored.

But though much occupied in maintaining the civil welfare of the community, he had still higher thoughts and purposes. He was pre-eminently desirous of promoting the influence of true religion, well knowing, that the principles of Christianity conduce not less certainly to the temporal than to the spiritual and eternal welfare of mankind. Huddersfield, like many other large towns of recent growth, was provided with only one church for a numerous and increasing population. Mr. Allen had for some time formed the purpose of erecting one at his own charge; But stood many difficulties, particularly at that time, stood in the way of such a design. To overcome these, and to obtain an act of parliament for the purpose, required all the energy of his character; but, by the blessing of God, he succeeded; and, in December 1816, laid the foundation of a handsome Gothic edifice, dedicated to the holy Trinity, adapted for the accommodation of 1500 persons. This he subsequently endowed, and it was consecrated by his Grace, the Archbishop of York in Oct., 1819. Mr. Allen appointed to the incumbency his beloved friend the Rev. H. I. Maddock. In this holy temple he was a regular and devout worshipper; and it was the never-failing subject of his desires and prayers, that the word of God there preached might become the seed of eternal life to many souls. He hailed with no less satisfaction than the minister himself the diffusion of pure and undefiled religion among the congregation. In 1826 he was deprived of his beloved friend and pastor; and respect for his memory, combined with a persuasion of the fitness of the appointment, led him to make choice of his brother the Rev. B. Maddock, as his successor.

Mr. Allen, it will be readily inferred, was deeply anxious for the increase of true religion abroad, as well as at home. He was an active supporter of all the great religious institutions. He was a vice president of the Huddersfield District Society for promoting Christian knowledge; president of the Auxiliary Bible Society; secretary to the Church Missionary Association; a liberal subscriber to the Society for the Conversion of the Jews; one of the founders of the two large National schools in Huddersfield; and a zealous supporter of every other local charity, and every plan for promoting the instruction and welfare of the labouring classes of society; particularly by means of Savings Banks, in which he took an especial interest, seldom failing to give his personal attendance at the one at Huddersfield on the days for receiving deposits; and feeling his heart cheered at witnessing the honest and industrious poor bringing in their extra earnings to be treasured up against a time of need. He took much delight in imparting instruction to the young: a school for girls was supported at his charge, and he devoted a portion of every Sunday to their improvement. For the last nine months of his life he employed his leisure on this day in teaching a Bible class for adults. He heard the details of the plan from the late Rev. B. Allen, Rector of St. Paul’s, Philadelphia; and with his characteristic energy he immediately organized one himself. His heart was much engaged in it; he found it attended with a great blessing, and he earnestly recommended the system for adoption to his friends. Would that Bible classes prevailed generally; they are evidently calculated to do much good, inasmuch as they carry forward scriptural instruction at an age fraught with danger and temptation.

Whatever his hand found to do, he did it with all his might. He gave to these institutions not only his money, but his time, his influence, his watchful care and superintendance; and above all his W. His services to the Church Missionary Society in particular, were very valuable; he visited the neighbouring associations, pleaded on its behalf, and, to mention but one among many instances of his good-will towards this excellent institution, he made on one occasion an anonymous grant to its funds of one hundred pounds, as a thank-offering to God, on hearing of a handsome legacy being bequeathed to Mrs. Allen.

But his charities were not confined to public societies; for no case of real necessity ever came before him without being relieved; to whatever community, rank, or place the individual belonged. The winter before last was a most distressing season in his vicinity, as well as in many other parts of the kingdom. Thousands of the labouring classes were thrown out of employment, and were dependant for support upon the hand of charity. At this season of distress, Mr. Allen did not con fine his labours to the public distribution of relief; but he went from house to house, examined into each case, and numbers of families were supplied with the necessaries of life by his Christian liberality. To this period may be referred the beginning of his illness. Exposure to the inclemency of the weather, and anxiety of mind at witnessing such scenes of distress as sur rounded him, together with an accumulation of business as a magistrate, produced a sensible effect upon his health, which he had hitherto considered sufficiently robust to allow of great exertion and fatigue. The distress at this time was not confined to the labouring classes; for many opulent families had been reduced to poverty; and by the failure of banks the preceding year, the town of and Huddersfield suffered to such an extent, and public confidence was so greatly impaired, that it was proposed as a remedy to form a joint stock banking company, and Mr. Allen’s active co-operation being considered indispensable for carrying the design into effect, he felt, averse as he was to embarking in business for the sake of gain, that he could not with propriety refuse. He engaged, therefore, in the scheme with his wonted energy; and the complete success which attended the institution was owing mainly to his correct judgment and efficient support. The result, however, to himself, was far from being salutary. The fatigue and anxiety which were hereby superadded to his former labours, increased the mischief which had commenced in an early part of the winter; and his constitution sustained a shock from which it never recovered. Still, even when his strength was much exhausted, and he was forbidden to go abroad, he transacted public business at home. On one occasion, not many days before the final seizure, when the individual most interested in the preservation of his life, urged upon him the necessity of leaving home and resting for a year from public labours; he replied, with that mild ness yet firmness of manner which was peculiar to him, “Years are not ours; I should think it quite wrong not to return to my duties, if it pleased God to give me my health.” On May 6, he was seized with an illness which baffled all the efforts of his medical attendants; but he was for the most part in possession of his faculties, and sensible of his danger. He prepared to enter the dark valley of the shadow of death, leaning upon the rod and the staff of that Saviour who has guaranteed to his faithful disciple’s victory over the last enemy. He did not trust to himself, or flee for refuge to works of righteousness which he had done, but de sired to come simply to Jesus Christ for salvation, and to abide under the shadow of his wings. He dwelt upon what he had left undone, not upon what he had done; and he humbled himself before God in the deepest repentance. When expressing the humiliation of his soul, and his strong conviction of his sinfulness, his beloved partner having suggested to him that he had endeavoured by the help of Divine grace to glorify God, he felt pained at the mention of anything which might appear like self-exaltation, and declared, “If I am saved, it will be solely through the mercy of God in Jesus Christ; I will cling to the cross of my Redeemer, and in case I perish, it shall be there.” But he knew in whom he believed, and was persuaded that he to whom he had committed his soul was faithful. . He expressed his gratitude to God for his many and undeserved mercies; saying, “I can scarcely allow myself to reflect upon the love of God; it almost overwhelms me.” Again: his resignation and confidence in God were very remarkable. “I have no anxieties,” he said, “of any kind; I am confident,” addressing his beloved wife, “that God will take care of you and your children, and will bring both you and them to meet me in heaven: they are included in the covenant, which is sure to us and to our children.” The last word which he uttered while in a state of consciousness, was a hearty amen at the close of a prayer offered up by his brother-in-law, the Rev. W. Madden, which commended his soul into the hands of a faithful Creator, and most merciful Saviour. His countenance was then lightened up with heavenly peace and joy; and about an hour afterwards, “he fell asleep.”

The length to which I have extended these remarks prevents my detailing further particulars of his character, or noticing the memorials of affection and esteem with which his memory was embalmed by his fellow-townsmen. “His record is on high;” his Divine Master found him engaged in the manner that has been specified; his loins girded and his lamp burning; and truly blessed are those servants whom their Lord when he cometh shall find so doing, for they rest from their labours, and enter into the joy of their Lord.

Notes and References

  1. Leeds Mercury (05/Nov/1814).

Benjamin Haigh Allen (1793-1829)

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