John Dale Allan - 1784-1861


About five years ago I developed an interest in the family’s history.

I knew that my father Hugh Cecil Allan was born in Scarborough and that he lived there in his teens.  His mother Emma Allan nee Lister moved with her four children to Newcastle upon Tyne in about 1918.

I had no knowledge of my grandfather, from whom she had separated until I began my research project.

His name was John Wickham Allan who lived at 75 Norwood Street, son of one Richard Allan my great grandfather who in turn was the son of my great great grandfather John Dale Allan.

Whilst all were interesting characters in their own right John Dale Allan had an exceptional and interesting career and was at the heart of Scarborough life during the early 19th century.

I am proud of him. This is his story. Author. John B Allan.


John Dale Allan was born in Scarborough on the 29th October 1784.

The Monarch of the time was George III and the Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger

He was the son of William Allan and Elizabeth Allan nee Dale. The Dale family connection was to be an influence throughout his life.

He was christened at St Mary’s Scarborough on the 24 November 1784.

Nothing is known of his childhood but he latterly developed as a man of the sea. He was recorded as a mariner when on the 20 June 1807 at age 22 he was married by the Reverend John Kirk to Bridget Cleathing of Scarborough.

Together they had four children

William Allan 1810 – 1875

Elizabeth Barbara Allan 1812 – 1887

John Cleathing/Chathines Allan 1815 – 

Jane Allan


By 1815 he was a master mariner and he assumed his first command. This was the 196 tons Snow “Editha “built at the Scarborough yard of George Dale and George Smith

A snow rig was similar to a brig - two masts with square sails on each. It was distinguished from a brig by having an extra small mast fitted abaft the main lower mast. This was known as the trysail mast and was set with a spanker sail (fore-and-aft triangular sail).

Snow Millie

A snow rig

According to Lloyds Register of Ships this vessel first appears in the records in 1815 - 1816 and she was owned by Allan & Co. Probably a group of people who owned the vessel together with the Captain J D Allan who chose his name as to be the lead name for the Company.

Because sailing vessels were expensive items and subject to unexpected loss, they were not usually owned by just one person. It made more sense for someone to buy, say, a quarter share in four ships, that to have all their capital tied up in one vessel.
The owners were usually a consortium of family, friends, and/or interested parties. For example, a collier sailing brig in the 18th Century may well have had a rope-maker, a sail-maker and a coal factor among the owners; and sometimes the Master of the vessel was also a part share owner as was the case with John Dale Allan.

The records show the Editha to be trading to places such as Buenos Aires, Honduras. Hamburg and Livorno during the time that Allan & Co were the owners and when John Dale Allan was the master.

The Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser. 31 / 10 / 1817

Around 1821 the records show her to have a new master J Benson and she was trading to places like Livorno, but also Helsinger ( Elsinor ) Denmark and back over to Buenos Aires, Trieste, Barbados, Alexandria, Malta, Naples, St Petersburg, Memel and Cadiz. The Editha visited many continents in her lifetime

In May 1821, sadly, Bridget his first wife died and was buried at St Mary’s on the 6th May 1821

On the 1 Jan 1822 aged 38 he remarried to Isabell Nixon with whom he spent the rest of his life. He was recorded as a Master Mariner at the time.

Together they had nine children

Mary Ann Allan 1823 – 

John Nixon Allan 1825 – 1887

Elizabeth Allan 1826 – 1852

Richard Allan 1826 – 1917. (My great grandfather)

Mary Ann Allan 1828 – 1837

Isabella Allan1831 – 1859

Thomas Allan 1833 – 1897

Robert Allan 1835 – 1909

Edward Allan


After the sale of the Editha John Dale had a change of profession from Master Mariner to Innkeeper of the Steam Packet.

The following is from the transcript of the entry of ' professions and trades' for Scarborough in Pigot’s Directory.

Taverns and Public Houses

1829 Steam Packet. John Dale Allan. 48 Merchants Row.

1834 Steam Packet. John Dale Allen.  48 Merchants Row.

It is not known as to whether John Dale Allan owned or was just the landlord of the Steam Packet. The experience would almost certainly have helped his later career at the Spaw.

There is no Steam Packet listed in Baines Directory of 1823 nor Whites Directory of 1840. It may have been established by John Dale Allan and closed when he move on in his career.

The following is an extract from a book written by C Meadley published circa 1890 entitled Memorials of Scarborough. It is from the chapter Public Houses of the Last Century. Page 292.

‘In Merchants Row, near Mr Vassali's was a quiet respectable house called the Steam Packet Inn, kept by Mr John Allen, and which was probably the first house in Scarborough which had a bagatelle table.'

The following were John Dale Allan’s neighbours. Extrapolated from the Transcript of the entry of "professions and trades “for Scarborough in Pigot's Directory of 1834.

House/ Property Numbers

1      Francis Clark                     Gentry

2      Mary Maling                     Grocer & Tea Dealer

3      Robert Fletcher                 Trunk Maker

4      Richard Mann                   Lodging House

5      Elizabeth Hutchinson        Lodging House 6

7      Not listed

8      Daniel White                     Cabinet Maker

9      Owen Martin                     Umbrella Maker

10    John Williamson               Lodging House

11    Not listed

12    Catherine Newton             Flour Dealer

13    Ann Holiday                     Lodging House

14    Rachael Woodall              Post Office. Post Mistress

15    Samual Middleton            Grocer & Tea Dealer also Ship Owners

16   John Woodall                     Lodging House & Tailor and Draper

17   William Peckston               Joiner

18   Thomas Woodall                Gilder

19   George Taylor                    Hair Dressing

20   Sarah Temple                     Shop Keeper. Dealer.

21   John Lilley                         Joiner

22   William Banks                   Lodging & Boarding House

23   Esther Corbett &                Dealer in Foreign China and Curiosities.

       Betsy Pallister

24   Ambrose Gibson                Lodging House & Plumber and Glazier

25   John Andrew                      Boot and Shoe Maker & Lodging House

26   William Gibson                  Flour Dealer

27   Not listed

28   Not listed

29   Robert French                    Shopkeeper & Dealer

30   Nesfield Johnson               Pub   Rose & Crown

31   36 No Names

37   Thomas Clark                    Pub Fishing Cart

38    Not listed

39   Edward Fox                       Pub   Neptune

40-42 Not listed

43   John Hall                           Pub   Tiger

44   Robert Stonehouse            Baker

45   Richard Simpson               Basket Maker

46   James Mason                     Stay Maker

47   Thomas Wadeson              Gun Maker

48   John Dale Allan               Pub  Steam Packet

49   Jerome Vassalli                 Jeweller & Jet ornament Maker

50   Robert Woodall                 Tailor

Listed but not numbered

John Gillott Manchester           Fire & office Agent

Thomas Harrison                      Ship Owner

Only a small section of Merchants Row exists today much having been demolished as part of the Eastborough development.


In 1826, the newly formed ‘Cliff Bridge Company' leased the Spa from the Corporation, and in order to provide easy access from St. Nicholas Cliff, erected a very high, elegant, iron foot-bridge. A Toll booth stood at the St. Nicholas Cliff end, and here, tickets could be purchased allowing unlimited access to the bridge and Spa for a one, two, or four week period: 'season tickets' could also be purchased.

John Dale’s next career change was to become the Cliff bridge toll collector.

The Cliff Bridge

The Cliff Bridge and Spa Toll Booth

At this time the Monarch of the day was George IV. The

Prime Minister - Lord Liverpool (Tory)


On the 29 May 1939 John Dale Allan was appointed as Governor of the Spa. The following are some extracts from the minutes of the Cliff Bridge Company

The Minutes.

29 May 1839 'Resolved unanimously that John Allan the present toll collector and his family be appointed to attend the Bridge, the Wells and the saloon and that his Salary be increased to G50 per annum in addition to House rent and the use of coals.'

The minutes.

19 May 1840 'Mr John Allan and his family be continued in attendance at the Bridge, Wells and Saloon at a salary of 50 Guinea's per annum,in addition to House rent and the use of coals as herefore.'

The minutes

12 May 1841 'That in consideration of the increased attendance required at the Wells J D Allan's application for an advance of Salary be acceded to that in future he shall receive £60 per annum.

The 1841 Census has John Dale Allan and family living at the Spaw.

The Gothic Saloon

The following is an extract from The Book of Scarborough Spaw by Meredith Whittaker.

 'We do not know the author of the resolution but it has the ring of Rev Benjamin Evans about it. Evans was a Baptist minister who came to Scarborough in the late 20's and played a prominent part in the life of the town. He edited the posthumous editions of Hinderwells history and was involved in the The Burgiss a publication that appeared periodically from 1835 to 1841 and could claim to be Scarborough's first newspaper. He lived in Hinderwell Place, an elite colony much favoured by ship owners,on the north side of Falsgrave Road between the junctions with Victoria Street and West Parade Road. He was a ship owner himself and had money to invest in the Spa, and made himself heard at shareholders meetings He and shareholders of the like mind were soon concerned with the liquor question. Allen the first superintendent of the Gothic Saloon, had been allowed to sell lemonade, ginger ale, and soda water, but that was all. In 1859 the committee decided to apply for a licence. A month later it rescinded the resolution, in consequence of a memorial numerously signed. At the annual general meeting the shareholders were determined to nail the committee down, and instructed it to make no application for a licence for wine and spirits and that the sale of ale and porter be prohibited.'

Note. The misspelling of the name ie. Allen and the use of the title Superintendent. John Dale always described himself as Governor,

The 1851 census show him as Governor living with members of his family at the Spa Saloon.

By the time of the 1861 census John was living at Swan Hill Road so must have retired as Governor between 1851 and 1861.

Key events during his term of office

In 1808 the Saloon was damaged by heavy seas, but a far worse storm - according to some the storm of the century - devastated the building in 1836 and it had to be completely re-built.

In 1827 the Cliff Bridge was opened. This improved access to the Spa and was a foretaste of ambitious plans ahead for the Spa.

The "Gothic Saloon" designed by Henry Wyatt was opened in 1839 and included a concert hall to seat 500, a garden, promenade and external area in which orchestras were to perform.

But by the time it opened, the Gothic Saloon, an impressive turreted building, was already too small. Sir Joseph Paxton, the landscape gardener and architect responsible for the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire and the Crystal Palace, was called in to redesign the complex and in 1858 his Spa was officially opened

The Spa 1868

At this time the Monarch was Victoria and the

Prime Minister the Viscount Melbourne (Whig)

Fashion of the day


John Dale Allan throughout his life had become a man of property and must have been a relatively wealthy man for that period.

The following are some references to his property holdings in Scarborough some of which survive to this day.

Allan John D to Wm Devall Reg. 30th Jany 1861 at 9 in the forenoon

A Memorial of an Indenture bearing the date the thirty first day of December One thousand eight hundred and sixty and made between John Dale Allan of Scarborough in the County of York Gentleman of the one part and William Devall of the same place Lodging House Keeper of the other part of and concerning all that plot of ground situate lying and being on the South Cliff in Scarborough aforesaid being part of a close of land called Snake Hill close otherwise Cliff close measuring in length from North to South forty nine feet two inches or thereabouts and in breadth from East to West twenty one feet or thereabouts bounded on or towards the East by a piece of ground then contracted to be sold to Henry Alfred Wrightson and whereon he was then erecting a Messuage or Dwelling house on or towards the West by lands belonging to Robert Williamson and others on the North by a private carriage road and on the South by a certain new street or road called Albion Road and also all and singular the Messuage or Dwelling house and other buildings there erected and built on the said plot of ground intended to be thereby conveyed being Number 10 in the row of houses on the North side of the said road called Albion road and also one undivided moiety or half part of the walls and fences separating the said Messuage or Dwelling house and premises thereby conveyed or intended so to be from the said Messuage or Dwelling house piece of land and premises adjoining thereto on the East and West sides thereof respectively together with the appurtenances.  The due execution of which said Indenture by the said John Dale Allan is witnessed and attested by William Banister of Scarborough aforesaid Solicitors Clerk and Richard Allan of the same place Joiner and the due execution thereof by the said William Devall is witnessed and attested by the said William Banister and John Robert Dippie of the same place Solicitors Clerks.

Signed and sealed) W Banister (Sworn by Affidt)

in the presence of )  John R Dippie                                        William Devall

Of and concerning All that dwelling house being No 10 in Albion Road South Cliff in Scarborough aforesaid And also of and concerning All that Workshop and yard situate in or near Swan Hill Road in Scarborough aforesaid then in the occupation of his Son Richard Allan And also of and concerning All that Dwelling house and Shop formerly in two Dwelling houses situate in North Street in Scarborough aforesaid then in the occupation of his (Testator’s) Son John Nixon Allan

 Searches have also found the following entries some relating to members of the Allan family:


John Dale retired and spent the remainder of his life with Isabella at his home in Swan Hill Road.

He died on the 12 May 1861 of age and geriatric infirmity.

He was buried in the family vault at Dean Road Cemetery.   

When Isabella his daughter died in 1859 John Dale bought a vault in the Dean Road Cemetery for the sum of £6.60. It is in the West Circle Plot Vault 10.

His grave Inscription as follows is on the central stone.

“In memory of ISABELLA the beloved wife of CHARLES-HARLAND GIBSON WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE APRIL 12th 1859 Aged 28 years

Released at length from cares and lingering pains Herein peaceful sleep a mothers love remains She lived to Jesus and in peace she died Her husband’s joy, her children's friend and guide


His Obituary from the Scarborough Mercury dated Sat. May 15th 1861:

'On the 13th inst Mr John Dale Allan many years principal gatekeeper for the Cliff Bridge Company age 76 years'

 In his last will and testament His widow Isabella and his sons Richard and John Nixon Allan were the main beneficiaries of his legacy.

“On the 5 the day of November 1861 the will of John Dale Allan late of Scarborough in the County of York, Yeoman. (Late Governor of the Spa)

deceased, who died on the twelfth day of May 1861 at Scarborough aforesaid was proved in the District Registry attached to Her Majesty's Court of Probate at York by the Oath's of Isabella Allan of Scarborough aforesaid, Widow of the deceased, John Nixon Allan of the same place, Baker, and Richard Allan of the same place, Joiner, and William Ellis of the same place, Coal Merchant, The Executors therein named they having been sworn only to administer.

10 Leaseholds.

Effects under £100.

Extracted by Heap and Moody, Solicitor. Scarborough.”

At the time of his death the Monarch was Victoria. The

Prime Minister the Viscount Palmerston (Liberal)

Author. John B Allan.

If anyone who reads this story about John Dale Allan can add further information I would be grateful to hear from them.


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