James Allen, of Braintree & Chilmark

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James Allen, Esq.

Also Known As: ""Justice" James Allen"
Birthplace: Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Tisbury, Dukes, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: West Tisbury, Dukes, Martha's Vineyard, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Allen, of Braintree, MA and Ann Allen, of Braintree, MA
Husband of Elizabeth Allen, Chilmark, Dukes, MA
Father of Amy Hatch (Allen); Mary Lassell (Allen); Abigail Partridge Allen; Ruth Bangs (Allen); Ebenezer Allen and 8 others
Brother of Samuel Allen, of Bridgewater; Mary Frary; Sarah Standish and Joseph Allen
Half brother of Joseph Allen, of Braintree and Abigail Allen

Occupation: Farmer and Land Speculator
Managed by: Megan Marie Orr
Last Updated:

About James Allen, of Braintree & Chilmark

James Allen

  • Birth: Circa 1636 - Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
  • Death: July 25 1714 - Tisbury, Dukes, Massachusetts
  • Parents: Samuel Allen, Ann
  • Wife: Elizabeth Partridge; 12 children

He was probably born in Braintree, Massachusetts where his father was made a Freeman in 1635. He was one of a small group of men who purchased Martha's Vineyard from the Indians.

"James Allen, s. of Samuel Allen and his first wife Ann, b. on or after July 26, 1636 prob. at Braintree, Mass. He d. July 25, 1714 at Chilmark, Mass., Æ 78. He is interred at adjoining West Tisbury, Mass. at that town's Village Cemetery (g.s.), the land for which he granted in 1701 partly for the town's burying ground [Recs. of the Town of Tisbury, Mass. (Boston, 1903), p. 40]:

• * Know all men by thes preasants that I James Allen of Chillmark do give and grant unto the Town of Tisbury an acker of Land Lying within abigall peses [Pease's] fence for Ever for a burying place and to set a meeting house on free from me my heirs or assigns for Ever. october 2d: 1701.


Sources: "Annals of West Tisbury" and "History of Martha's Vineyard"

The only one of the original purchasing proprietors of this town who remained as a settler, except James Skiffe, was James Allen, the progenitor of the Vineyard Allens now scattered over this land from Maine to California. He was the son of Samuel Allen of Braintree and Anne his wife, and was probably born in that town in 1636, the year after his father was made a freeman. Of his early years we have no knowledge, as the records of Braintree and Suffolk county are entirely silent about him, and it is more than likely that, after 1657, when he became of age, he may have removed to some other town in the colony. His sister Sarah married Lieut. Josiah Standish of Bridgewater about this time, and possibly he might be found in that town where his brother Samuel lived, or in that vicinity. About 1662 James Allen married, his wife's name according to family tradition being Elizabeth Perkins, who was born about 1644, and therefore eight years his junior. [*The printed Perkins genealogies fail to mention any Elizabeth Perkins suitable to correspond with the above facts.] It is believed that about this year he removed to Sandwich, Cape Cod, where the births of three children known to be his are recorded, 1663 to 1667, and where he probably formed his personal and business connection with James Skiffe of the same town. [*James Allen's sister Abigail married John Cary and lived in Bridgewater and later in Taunton. Benjamin, son of James, preached in Bridgewater after his graduation from Yale.] In the summer of 1668 he was here making the preliminary arrangements with his partners and Mayhew about the purchase of Takemmy, and in the summer of 1669 the bargain with the Indians was consummated. His coming here is almost coincident with the death of his father, which occurred in Braintree in 1669, where he had been town clerk for many years. [*James Allen signed as witness to a deed in Sandwich, Nov. 13, 1669 (Plymo. Col. Deeds, III, 163).] By his will, dated Sept. 16, 1669, Samuel Allen bequeathed to his son James five pounds to be paid "within three years after my decease," and to his "soon in Law Josiah Standish" he devised double that amount. James Allen's settlement here can be assigned fairly to that year, as no more births of children are recorded in Sandwich. From this time on for forty-five years he was the leading spirit in the towns of Tisbury and Chilmark, and one of the largest land holders. At one time or another he owned seven of the original home lots on the west side of Old Mill brook, besides all the dividends accruing to them, and there are no less than thirty conveyances from him recorded on the county land records. The first home lot drawn by him is thus described:

Thes are the Lands of James allin Lieng In the tounship of tisbury one Lot containing forty 8 ackers bounded on the south by nathannil skiffs Lot and on the north by Jaremiah whittons Lot Lieng in bredeth forty 8 pols by the reiver and runeth westward from the reiver 8 skore pols in lenght with one Lot in the gret neck bounded on the est by the middel of the water which partth the neck and on the west by goodman of with a sixtenth part of all undevided Lands and Meddoto the said town the devided Lands being more or les as they are Laid out

This is the [Record] of the Landes and inharitanc of [James Allen] in the town of tisbury

[*Tisbury Records, 8.]

This land, which is now the property of Everett Allen Davis, Esq., was doubtless the location of his residence for twenty years until his removal to Chilmark. He sold it in 1692 to John Pease, Jr., of Edgartown, whose heirs deeded it to Gershom Cathcart in 1723, and it remained many years in the possession of the latter's descendants.[*Dukes Deeds, I, 155; III, 446, 509.] When he removed to Chilmark is not definitely known. He began his purchases of the large estate he finally owned there early in February, 1677-8, a tract bounded south by the pond, and he is called "of Tisbury." In 1686, when making another purchase, he is called "of Nashowakemmuck," and this may be the probable date of his change of residence. [*Ibid., I,277; II, 277.]

His estate or home farm amounted to about 250 acres, by successive purchases, and this he gave to two of his sons before his death. Ebenezer received one half of the entire property in 1698, to be available after the decease of his father and mother, [*Ibid., II,41.] and Samuel received the Keephiggon lot in 1705 near the Tisbury line. [*Ibid., I, 299.] Ichabod had acquired large holdings in Chickemmoo and John and Joseph were probably provided for, through their mother's inheritance. Benjamin was the youngest son and not of age till just before his father's death. This probably accounts for the absence of a will or administration on such a large and valuable estatethese ante mortem transfers of property.

His public services were characterized by quality and not quantity. In 1675 he was an Assistant under the Mayhew regime, equivalent to a justice on the bench. How long he held this is not known. [*N. Y. Col. Mss., XXIV, 159.] Besides this he held possibly one town office and but one other county office during his long life. He was appointed on a committee "to procure a new charter" for Tisbury in 1687 (a thing that was never done), and after the inclusion of the island in Massachusetts he was one of the first three justices of the peace. [*Council Records, II, 207. He had served but once as a juryman in all his twenty years of residence up to this date, an unusual record. James Allen was Selectman of Chilmark in 1704, but it may have been his son.] He was recommended his appointment by Simon Athearn, who stated that Allen was "reputed wealthy and having such Influence in the people there," and at the same time he advised that Allen be made captain of the military company. [*Mass. Archives, CXII, 424.] It is evident that he had no taste for arms, as he had petitioned the court two years before on the subject, as appears by this record:

Whereas James Allin of Chilmark did apere before the Coart in order for a dismission from trayning: The Coart bath granted him a dismission provided he doth apere in time of mustering: and doth help Sufficy. [*Dukes County Court Records, July 10, 1690.]

His standing in the community as stated by Athearn was that of a man of influence, wielding more power than if he had held a score of minor offices in the course of his life. Now he was in the most exalted one to which men in those days could aspire, a justice on the King's Bench, and in this capacity he served the people for at least six years at the Quarterly Sessions of the Peace. As the first one to hold any considerable office of honor or profit on the Vineyard since its settlement, not connected either by blood or marriage with the Mayhew family, Mr. Justice Allen had some distinction beside that of the position itself.

In 1701 he gave to the town of Tisbury its first "God's Acre" for the burial of the dead and as a location for the new meeting-house under contemplation, and within this enclosure lies his body marked with a well-preserved slate stone. His declining years were passed in Chilmark, where a large family of a dozen children were reared, married and half of them settled in homes of their own. All the daughters left the island, but seven sons have perpetuated the name of James Allen their honored father and the parent of sons who maintained his splendid reputation.

He died July 25, 1714, aged 78 years, and his wife Elizabeth survived till August 7, 1722, being of the same age at the date of her death.


"Confusion abounds regarding the origins of James Allen of Tisbury, Mass. Joshua Allen's 1882 edited work "A Genealogy of the Allen Family," first compiled by William Allen, materially errors in calling James Allen's father Samuel the son of George Allen and his wife Katherine, latter early settlers of Sandwich, Mass. George Allen d. testate and was buried at Sandwich May 2, 1648. His will mentions wife Katharine, his sons Matthew, Henry, Samuel and William plus "my five least children" who are unnamed [NEHGS Register, 4:284]. Subsequent deeds indicate George Allen's son Samuel was a resident of Boston, whereas James Allen's father Samuel was a longstanding resident of Braintree, Mass.


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James Allen, of Braintree & Chilmark's Timeline

July 1636
Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
August 15, 1663
Age 27
Sandwich, (Present Barnstable County), Plymouth Colony (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
December 22, 1665
Age 29
Sandwich, (Present Barnstable County), Plymouth Colony (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
September 28, 1667
Age 31
Braintree, MA
Age 33
Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard, Dukes County, Province of New York (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
March 1, 1671
Age 34
West Tisbury, Dukes, MA
Age 37
Tisbury, Dukes, Massachusetts
Age 38
Tisbury, Dukes, Massachusetts, United States
Age 39