Clifford Allen, 1st Baron Allen of Hurtwood

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The Lord Allen of Hurtwood
Clifford Allen, 1st Baron Allen of Hurtwood.jpg
Chairman of the Independent Labour Party
In office
Preceded byRichard Collingham Wallhead
Succeeded byJames Maxton
Personal details
Born(1889-05-09)9 May 1889
Newport, Wales
Died3 March 1939(1939-03-03) (aged 49)
Political partyIndependent Labour Party
Spouse(s)Marjory Allen, Lady Allen of Hurtwood
Alma materPeterhouse, Cambridge.

Reginald Clifford Allen, 1st Baron Allen of Hurtwood (9 May 1889 – 3 March 1939), known as Clifford Allen, was a British politician, leading member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), and prominent pacifist.

Early life and education[edit]

The son of Walter Allen, a draper, Reginald Clifford Allen was born in Newport, then in Monmouthshire in Wales. The family later moved to Bristol, on account of Walter's business. Allen was educated at Berkhamsted School, University College, Bristol and, from 1908 to 1911, at Peterhouse, Cambridge. Having initially identified as a Conservative, in his final year at Cambridge he was chair of the university's Fabian Society.


Shortly after coming down from Cambridge with a third-class degree, he was made Secretary and then General Manager of the Daily Citizen between 1911 and 1915. He was Chairman of the No-Conscription Fellowship in the First World War, and was imprisoned as a conscientious objector three times. In 1917 he became so ill that he was released from prison where he set up house with Catherine Marshall who was also ill from overwork. Marshall hoped that their relationship would continue but Allen ended their partnership.[1]

After the war he was Treasurer and Chairman of the Independent Labour Party between 1922 and 1926, Chairman of the New Leader between 1922 and 1926 and director of the Daily Herald between 1925 and 1930.

He was raised to the peerage as Baron Allen of Hurtwood, of Hurtwood in the County of Surrey, on 18 January 1932,[2] to boost Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald's National Labour representation in the House of Lords. In 1934 he co-founded the Next Five Years Group seeking a progressive centre-left re-alignment in British politics.

In January 1935 Allen wrote of German dictator Adolf Hitler after he had met him:

I believe Herr Hitler's position in the country is unassailable. His sincerity is tremendous...I am convinced he genuinely desires peace...Germany's aggressive words and warlike phrases do not represent her intentions.[3]

Despite his championing of the cause of appeasement, he strongly condemned Nazi brutality and anti-semitism. For instance, in the House of Lords in July 1938 he declared:

Germany has said that British democracy is degenerate. Well, I for one was never more proud of British democracy than when Professor Freud, that great scientist, aged and infirm, became an exile from his country and was welcomed within our shores. There was taken to him as an invalid the register of the Royal Society in order that he might inscribe his name therein, an act which I believe has never been carried through in this country except for members of our Royal Family; and thus degenerate democracy linked an exiled and distinguished Jewish scientist with members of our own Royal Family. That seemed to me a cause of pride, and not a sign of degeneracy.[4]

His efforts to intercede with the German government trying to save Hans Litten, a prominent opponent of the Nazi regime, from Dachau concentration camp were however unsuccessful.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Clifford Allen married Marjory Gill on 17 December 1921. They had one child, a daughter born in 1922, Joan Collete, known as Polly. Never having fully recovered from the privations of his imprisonment during the First World War when he had contracted tuberculosis, Lord Allen of Hurtwood died in a sanatorium in Switzerland in 1939, aged 49, the peerage becoming extinct.


  • Is Germany right and Britain wrong?, Chelsea : London : s.n., 1914.
  • Executive committee report to the members on the progress of the fellowship, No-Conscription Fellowship. London : No-Conscription Fellowship, 1915.
  • Presidential address by Clifford Allen to the National Convention of the No-Conscription Fellowship, 27 November 1915, No-Conscription Fellowship. London : National Labour Press, 1916.
  • Why I still resist: Leaflet (No-Conscription Fellowship), no. 5., No-Conscription Fellowship, Pelican Press, London : Printed for the No-Conscription Fellowship, 1917.
  • Putting socialism into practice : the President address, London : Independent Labour Party, 1924.
  • The I.L.P. and Revolution ... Reprinted from the Socialist Review., London : I.L.P. Publication Dept., 1925.
  • Socialism & the next Labour Government. The presidential address ... at the I.L.P. Annual Conference, 1925.,Independent Labour Party: London, 1925.
  • Labour's Future at Stake, London : G. Allen & Unwin, 1932.
  • Britain's political future; a plea for liberty and leadership, London, New York [etc.] Longmans, Green, 1934.
  • Effective pacifism, London : League of Nations Union, 1934.
  • The next five years : an essay in political agreement, with W Arnold Forster; A Barratt Brown; et al. London : Macmillan, 1935.
  • We did not fight : 1914-18 experiences of war resisters, edited by Julian Bell ; with a foreword by H.R.L. Sheppard ; contrib. by Lord Allen of Hurtwood ... [et al.]. London, 1935.
  • Peace in Our Time. An appeal to the International Peace Conference of June 16, 1936. London : Chatto & Windus, 1936.
  • The price of European peace, with Frank Ongley Darvall; Jan Christiaan Smuts. London [u.a.] : Hodge, 1937.


  1. ^ Jo Vellacott, ‘Marshall, Catherine Elizabeth (1880–1961)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 31 Aug 2017
  2. ^ "No. 33792". The London Gazette. 22 January 1932. p. 484.
  3. ^ Martin Gilbert, Plough My Own Furrow. The Story of Lord Allen of Hurtwood as told through his own writings and correspondence (London: Longmans, 1965), pp. 358-359.
  4. ^ Hansard, House of Lords Debate, 27 July 1938. vol 110 cc. 1206-49 at 1228
  5. ^ Arthur Marwick, Clifford Allen - The Open Conspirator London: Oliver & Boyd, 1964. pp.166-174

Further reading[edit]

  • David Boulton: Objection Overruled, Macgibbon & Kee, 1967
  • Martin Gilbert: "Plough My Own Furrow: The Story of Lord Allen of Hurtwood as told through his own writings and correspondence", London: Longmans, 1965
  • Thomas C Kennedy: The hound of conscience : a history of the No-Conscription Fellowship, 1914-1919, Fayetteville : University of Arkansas Press, 1981 ISBN 0-938626-01-9
  • Arthur Marwick: Clifford Allen: The Open Conspirator, Oliver & Boyd, 1964

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Collingham Wallhead
Chairman of the Independent Labour Party
Succeeded by
James Maxton
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
new creation
Baron Allen of Hurtwood
Succeeded by
title extinct