John Allan (colonel)

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Colonel John Allan M.P. J.P. (January 3, 1746 – February 7, 1805) was a Canadian politician who became an officer with the Massachusetts Militia in the American Revolutionary War.

Born in Edinburgh Castle in Scotland,[1] the son of Major William Allan (1720-1790), 'a Scottish gentleman of means and an officer in the British Army', by his wife Isabella, daughter of Sir Eustace Maxwell. The Allan family temporarily resided in Edinburgh Castle where they had sought refuge during the Jacobite Rising of 1745, under the Deputy Governor, General George Preston, Commander-in-Chief of Scotland. In 1749 his father arrived in the City of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in a military capacity, where the family remained for ten years before moving to Fort Lawrence.

At Halifax, John Allan became a justice of the peace and clerk of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. He also represented Cumberland township in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1775 to 1776.

He came to Maine and then to Boston in 1776 with a message of support or at least neutrality from the 4 nations of the Wabanaki or "Dawnland" Indians of Maine and the Maritimes and went on to serve in the American Revolution. He was given a commission by General George Washington, as a member of his personal staff, to the position of Colonel in the Continental Army, with orders to command the Militia at Machias, Maine. General Washington also appointed him as Superintendent for Indians in the Eastern Department at the same time, when Allan visited Washington's headquarters across the Delaware from Trenton, NJ from Dec 22-25, 1776 on his way to meet with the Continental Congress, then convened in Baltimore, to present his plan for an expedition to bring Nova Scotia into the Revolution. At the war's end, Allan took part in the negotiations to establish the boundary between New Brunswick and Maine. This did not bring him into the lime light of those times, although his duties were arduous and required skill, executive ability, keen foresight and sagacity, which attributes he possessed to a marked degree.

In executing this important mission he was not with any of the memorable battles of the Revolution and hence his name is not prominently inscribed upon the roll of the famous men of that great struggle. His services for the cause of the American Colonies again brings into prominence Passamaquoddy Bay and the historic town of Machias, that being his headquarters. He died in 1805.

Allan's sister, Elizabeth, married John George Pyke, a Nova Scotia merchant and politician.



  1. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967.