Last name: Allen

This distinguished surname with more than fifty heraldic Coats of Arms granted to nameholders, and having several notable entries in the British 'Dictionary of National Biography', is equally widespread in England, Scotland and Ireland. It derives from the Gaelic and Breton personal name of the pre-Christian era 'Ailin' which loosely translates as 'Little rock, although it may also mean 'harmony'. The first recorded name bearer was 'Alawn', a legendary poet of the fifth century a.d., reputed to be one of the three foremost musicians of the period. From early times the spelling form has varied considerably not least in the Celtic countries where it has ranged from Eilian to Alwyn and Alleyne. The Bretons, who were originally British settlers in France, returned as invaders with William, Duke of Normandy, otherwise known as 'The Conqueror' in 1066, and in so doing it is claimed, re-introduced the name into England. Certainly 'Alanus' without a surname, is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book for the county of Suffolk. Early surname recordings include those of Roger Alain of Yorkshire in the rolls of the village of Calverly, in 1246, and Richard Aleyns of Staffordshire, in the Assize Court Rolls of 1309. Other examples are John Allen, prebendary of St Pauls Cathedral, London in 1527, whilst in 1638 another John Allen was a puritan divine, and one of the earliest settlers in the New England colonial city of Plymouth, USA. The coat of arms most associated with the surname has the blazon of a gold field, charged with three black hounds passant, the crest being an eagle rising. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Alein, which was dated 1234, in the 'Feet of Fines' rolls of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2015

Want to dig deeper into your family history? Take a look at our page on building a Family Tree. Or get scientific and enter the exciting world of Ancestral DNA!

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll

We are currently experiencing a technical fault with our comments system we hope to have it working again shortly, sorry for any inconvenience. (19th of May 2015)

Gregory Allen
Looking for.history on a Mary Weldon married to a David Allen, England, early 1700's.

Donald Allen

It's nice to know where my name comes from glad to be apart of this clan

hazel grove
anyone know john and mary ann allen, i know they had a daughter name jane lived in dartmouth, n.s.

Gregory Allen
From Utah, USA, with ancestors from England and Scotland.

Brenda Wise
anyone have an Ann Allen BD 1750 married to John Ratcliffe BD 1757 from Northumberland in the uk ? any help appreciated thank you.

John Allen
I come from Luton in Bedfordshire and I can Trace my family back to 1756 all in Luton. I have not gone further back yet. Nice to know all you Allen's out there