Richard Allen was the youngest son of John and Hannah Allen of Kidderminster, England. He was born 11 April 1801 and was christened 25 May 1801. He died in Kidderminster between January and March of 1877 at the age of 81.
Of the stories his son Richard Jr. wrote about the family, none are recorded about his parents, Richard and Elizabeth Wood. He only wrote, “My father’s name same as mine. My mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Wood.” But this older Richard was most often the source of information about others.
When Richard married Elizabeth Wood he already had two sons from a previous marriage:
1. William Allen, born in 1822.
2. Thomas Allen, born in 1824
A baptismal record for Thomas Allen shows the parents as Richard and Sarah, but there are no additional records to verify Richard’s marriage to Sarah. Richard is listed as a widower on his next marriage certificate, so Sarah may have died as a result of her second childbirth since Richard was married again the following year. It was suggested that possibly Elizabeth was first married to another Allen before marrying Richard, but this is not likely. On her marriage certificate with Richard, she is listed as a spinster.
Richard Allen married Elizabeth Wood, daughter of William and Elizabeth "Betty" Wood, on 14 November 1825 in Kidderminster. Elizabeth was born 1806 in England, and died in England sometime after 1840.
RICHARD ALLEN-ELIZABETH WOOD MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
Richard and Elizabeth had the following children:
1. Richard Joseph Allen was born 10 November 1830 in Kidderminster, and died 17 January 1914 in Hartford City, West Virginia, in Mason County.
2. Alfred Allen was born on 1 January 1831 in Kidderminster, but nothing else is known.
3. Elizabeth "Ann" Allen was born in 1837 in Kidderminster.. She married Thomas Bratt and stayed in England.
4. Harriet Allen was born in 1842 in Kidderminster, according to census records. Kidderminster marriage records (volume 6c, page 254), Harriett married John Purchase in September 1863. Census records state that John was born in 1842 in Kidderminster as well. In 1881, John and Harriet lived in Claines, in Worcestershire, England. They stayed in England. Nothing more in known about them.
In 1904 Richard, the son of Richard and Elizabeth, proudly recalled a feat performed by his father-in-law, William Wood. “Her father was a very powerful man,” he said. “I have heard mother tell he was double breasted; he had four nipples. At a country town named Chaglesly [actually Chaddlesly Corbett], they had a big bell in the church steeple. There had been a standing offer for a long time that anyone who could ring that bell for three successive hours should have the bell.”
“Ma said her father did ring it for three successive hours, and twenty minutes extra just for fun, and there is or was a tablet in the steeple describing the feat and giving his name.” The St. Cassians church in Chaddlesly has such a steeple that was rebuilt in 1779. According to descendent James Love, “And in the steeple of their ancient church hangs a very old and very big bell.”
In the 1980s James Love traveled to England. He rang the bell, and was allowed to climb the tower of St. Cassians. “On the second level of the bell tower were tablets describing peals of 5,040 changes that required about three hours to complete,” he wrote. “The oldest entry on the tablet describes a peal of grandshire triples lasting three hours and one minute performed December 28, 1826. The name Wood was not among the names on the tablets.”
James Love was not deterred. “The tablet I was looking for could have been removed or covered up during a rebuilding of the church or belfry,” he wrote. “Maybe I didn’t look in the right cranny. Maybe I was in the wrong church.”
Richard was a life long weaver, and in the 1850’s worked for Morton and Sons carpet manufacturers creating Brussells carpets. In fact, the entire family worked for Morton and Sons, according to his son Richard. For years the firm successfully produced carpet and bombazine.
It was one of the older and best known carpet houses in the industry, and a fixture in Kidderminster. Until 1850, Morton & Sons, like other factories, employed hand loom operators to develop carpet in pieces. But when steam powered looms changed the industry, Morton & Sons changed with it, and became known for a variety of carpets, primarily Brussells.
The Morton Company was founded in the late 1700’s by an Evesham wool dealer, John Woodward, and James Morton, a London Banker. When Woodward retired, Morton hired his sons, William and Edward, and changed the name to Morton & Sons.
James Morton died in 1860, one year after his son, William. Edward continued with a partner until joined by his son, Edward J. Morton. But in 1890, Morton & Sons merged with Richard Smith & Son to form Carpet Manufacturing Company, Ltd.
In the late 1700’s, new streets were built in the Horsefair area of Kidderminster to handle the influx of weavers, including Milk Street, Queen Street and Paradise Street. Smaller row houses were built along Paradise, and around 1830 the family of Richard and Elizabeth shared one with a pawnbroker in what became known as Paradise Row. According to their son, this is where Richard was born, but the street and houses near Horsefair no longer exist.
In 1841 and 1851 census records for Kidderminster’s District 20, Richard’s family lived in the South ward on Hoo Lane. In 1841 Richard and his oldest son, William, are both listed as carpet weavers, while Ben is listed simply as a weaver. Elizabeth’s son, Richard, is too young and shows no occupation.
But in 1851, William and Ben moved on, and Richard’s son, Richard, now 20, and his cousin Tom, 21, are listed as hand loom carpet weavers. Richard’s daughter, Ann, is listed as a 12 year old dressmaker’s apprentice, and the youngest, Harriett, 9, is listed as a scholar, or student.
On the marriage certificate for Richard Allen and Elizabeth Wood, both made their mark. In the early 1800’s, child labor was prolific in Kidderminster and in the Allen family, but there was time for a good education for the children of Richard and Elizabeth Allen.