William Allen (Irish politician)

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Lieutenant Colonel Sir William James Allen KBE DSO [1] (15 October 1866 – 20 December 1947) was a Northern Irish unionist politician and soldier.[2] The son of Joseph and Catherine Allen, he was educated at Lurgan College. His father Joseph was co-founder in 1868 of Johnston, Allen & Co., Victoria Street, Lurgan Co Armagh linen manufacturers. After his father died in 1890, William inherited the partnership. This lasted until 1905, when it was dissolved (The factory retained the name Johnston Allen) as William left to set up his own linen business called, the Windsor factory.[3]

He was elected to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom at a by-election in 1917, as an Irish Unionist Party Member of Parliament (MP) for North Armagh, and retained his seat at the 1918 general election. The constituency was abolished for the 1922 general election, when he was re-elected as a member of the new Ulster Unionist Party for the new Armagh constituency.

During the first war he became the commanding officer of the 16th (Pioneer) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. He was awarded the DSO in 1918 and mentioned in despatches 4 times. He was also appointed chevalier of the French Légion d'honneur.

He was twice married first in 1892 to Maria eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs John Ross. They had a son and daughter. Maria died in 1937 and in 1938 he was re married to Lillah Irene daughter of the late Mr R.H. Forsythe. He (Lt. Col Allen) died in 1947 two weeks after being knocked down by a motor van while alighting from a tram on the Lisburn Road, Belfast on 5 December. He was 81 and the second oldest MP in the House of Commons. Sir William was buried in Lurgan. He was survived by his second wife Lillah Irene, Lady Allen.


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir William Moore
Member of Parliament for North Armagh
Succeeded by
as MP for Armagh
New constituency
made from three existing constituencies
Member of Parliament for Armagh
Succeeded by
James Richard Edwards Harden
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
William Lyons
Sovereign Grand Master of
the Royal Black Preceptory

Succeeded by
Sir Norman Stronge