yeovil people

Robert Allen

Miller of Pen Mill


Robert Allen was born around 1787, most likely at Gosport, Hampshire. Little is known of his early life other than he was a baker.

The Hampshire Allegations for Marriage Licenses noted that he was a 21-year-old bachelor and baker of Gosport and his wife was 21-year-old spinster Sophia Singer (1793-1869) of Portsea, Hampshire. She was the daughter of Joseph Singer and Sarah née Shier. Robert and Sophia were married at Portsea on 6 September 1814. They were non-conformists.

They were to have at least six childre; Robert Charles Allen (1815-1896), born in Exeter Street, New Sarum, Wiltshire, Sophia (1818-1891), Joseph (b1820, presumed died in infancy) both born in Wilton, Wiltshire. By 1822, Robert had moved his family to Pen Mill, Yeovil, where the last three of their children were born; John (b1822), Jane (b1829) and Frederick William (1836-1872). All five of the surviving children were baptised at the South Street Baptist Chapel.

In 1827, Robert Allen was recorded as the miller at Pen Mill in the 'Return of men qualified to serve on Juries'. In an agreement dated 10 March 1832, Wyndham Harbin (the owner of the mill) let the mill to "Robert Allen of Penmill, miller" and Allen was also listed as a miller in the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840. In the 1846 Tithe Apportionment it was noted that Pen Mill, Garden and Orchard (Parcel 859) and Yeovil Bridge Mead (Parcel 860) were owned by George Harbin of Newton House and occupied by Robert Allen. In his will of 1846, Robert Allen refers to himself as the miller of Pen Mill.

In the 1841 census, Robert and Sophia, together with their sons Robert and Frederick, were listed at Pen Mill. Both Robert and Robert Jnr gave their occupations as millers.

Interestingly, in his will of 1846, Robert stated that he owned nine dwellings in Portsea - which he had presumably inherited, since he left Hampshire in his very early twenties.

Robert Allen died on 10 January 1848, aged 61, at Pen Mill. He was interred in the family vault in the South Street chapel.

The 1851 census listed Sophia living at Lyde House with her son Robert Charles, his wife Julianna and their baby son Charles, together with two servants. Robert Junior had taken over Pen Mill from his father and gave his occupation as a "Miller, Master". The 1861 census recorded Sophia living with her daughter Sophia in Mill Lane, together with Sophia's husband Richard James the Minister of the Baptist Chapel, their three daughters Elle, Louisa and Martha, together with a servant.

Sophia died in Yeovil on 22 March 1869, aged 76. She was interred in Yeovil Cemetery.



This colourised photograph features in my books 'Yeovil From Old Photographs' and "Yeovil In 50 Buildings"

A photograph of the South Street Baptist Chapel before 1867 (the porch was added in 1868) as Robert Allen and his family would have known it. Note the front elevation is completely different to the present elevation, note too the absence of the Newnam Hall, built in 1912.


Courtesy of Dave Shorey

Yeovil seen from Babylon Hill in the late 18th century from a lithograph by T Jerome. Penn Hill is seen at left, surmounted by Penn House, and Wyndham Hill is seen at right with the buildings of Pen Mill at its foot.


'View of Yeovil from Babylon Hill' in a stone lithograph by Henry Burn (c1807-1884) and published by William Porter and Henry Marsh Custard in 1839. With Summerhouse Hill at left, with Penn Hill behind it, surmounted by Penn House, and Wyndham Hill at right. The buildings at Pen Mill (at this time occupied by Robert Allen) are seen at the base of the latter, with the tower of St John's church above and to the left. At centre, a coach is seen on the Sherborne Road before it was re-aligned.


This photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"

Penn Mill, by the time of this 1970's photograph known as Chudleigh's Mills.


The will of Robert Allen, 1846


This is the last Will and Testament of me Robert Allen of Pen Mill in the Parish of Yeovil in the County of Somerset Miller I give and devise all those my nine freehold messuages or tenements with the gardens and appurtenances to the same belonging situate in the parish of Portsea in the County of Southampton two whereof are in Ridge Street Two in Stoke street three in Spring street and two in Hawk street unto my dear wife Sophia Allen and her assigns for her life and from and after her decease I give and devise the same hereditaments and premises unto my friend Thomas Whicher of the Town and County of Poole Merchant and my son Robert Charles Allen their heirs and assigns Upon trust to sell the same either together or in lots and either by public auction or by private contract and in such manner as may be thought appropriate with full power to give effectual discharges to the purchasers thereof for their purchase money so that such purchasers shall not be bound to see to the application thereof And I direct that my said trustees and the survivor of them and the executors and administrators of such survivor shall stand possessed of the clear money arising from such sale (after defraying the expenses thereof) Upon trust to pay one equal third part thereof to my said son Robert Charles Allen and upon trust to pay one other equal third part thereof to my son Frederick William Allen and upon trust to invest the remaining one equal third part thereof upon Government or real securities (varying such securities from time to time at discretion) and to pay the annual dividends or interest thereof unto my daughter Sophia James the wife of The Rev Richard James and her assigns for her life And from and after her decease Upon trust to pay the same dividends or interest unto the said Richard James and his assigns for his life and from and after the decease of the survivor Upon trust to pay or divide both the principal money and securities for the time being constituting the last mentioned part and the future dividends or interest thereof unto the child if but one or amongst all the children equally if more than one of the said Richard James by my said daughter [three words illegible] absolute benefit Provided always that in case my said son Frederick William Allen or all or any of the said children of the said Richard James shall be under the age of twenty one years and unmarried when they shall respectively become entitled in possession to their shares in the said trust fund I direct that my said trustees or trustee shall keep the shares of such of them as shall be under that age invested in manner aforesaid until they shall respectively attain that age and apply the dividends and interest thereof in the meantime for their maintenance and education and benefit I give and bequeath all my household goods and furniture plate linen and china unto my said wife for her life and from and after her decease I give the same unto my said children Sophia James and Frederick William Allen equally I give and bequeath all the Residue of my estate and effects moneys and securities for money [word illegible] debts stock in trade live and dead stock and other chattels whatsoever (subject to the payment of my debts and funeral and testamentary expences) unto my said wife and my sons son Robert Charles Allen to the intent that if my said wife shall wish to do so she and my said son Robert Charles Allen may carry on my present trade or business for their joint and equal benefit But in case my said wife shall decline to carry on the said trade or business then I direct that all my said residuary estate and effects shall as soon as conveniently may be, be [word illegible] and the clear produce thereof (after discharging all liabilities connected with the said business) shall be equally divided between my said wife and my said son Robert Charles Allen But if my said wife shall happen to die in my life time then I direct that such last mentioned sale and conversion shall take place immediately after my decease and the share of the produce thereof given to my said wife shall be paid to my said trustees or trustee upon trust for the equal benefit of my said son Frederick William Allen and my said daughter Sophia James and her husband and her children in like manner as is hereinbefore directed with respect to their shares in the purchase money of my said real estate Provided always that in case any trustee of this my Will shall die disclaim or retire from his office as trustee I empower my said wife during her life and after her decease the surviving or continuing trustee or his executors or administrators to appoint by any writing under his hand any other person to be a trustee of this my Will and every such new trustee shall have all the powers and discretions hereby vested in any said trustees And I declare that no trustee of this my Will shall be answerable the one of them for the other of them nor for any loss or damage which may happen to my said estate and effects sp as the same happen without his wilful neglect or default And I declare that it shall be lawful for every of them to retain and allow to each other all costs and expences which he may be put unto in the execution of the trusts hereof And I appoint my said wife Sole Executrix of this my Will and I desire to be decently interred at as little expense as possible In witness whereof I have to this my Will contained in three sheets of paper set my hand this twelfth day of February one thousand eight hundred and forty six

Robert Allen

Signed by the said Robert Allen the testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto set our names as witnesses

Jno Batten Solicitor Yeovil        James Adams his Clerk

Proved at London 23rd February 1848 before the Judge by the Oath of Sophia Allen Widow the Relict the sole Executrix to whom adm[inistrati]on was granted having been first sworn by comon duly to administer


Transcribed by Bob Osborn