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Thomas Allan was a solicitor and political adviser to the Wesleyan Methodists and was considered one of the most influential laymen of his generation. Appointed legal adviser to the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1803, he was a powerful figure in the successful struggle against proposed legislation imposing restrictions on religious freedom – regarded as a landmark in the fight for protection of civil and religious liberties. Allan was also heavily involved in discussions that led to the passing of the Toleration Act of 1812. Outside of the religious sphere, Allan was active in the movement for the abolition of slavery and was a correspondent of important figures within the government and judiciary.

The Allan collection is one of the largest archives of personal papers in the Methodist collections. It consists of correspondence, legal documents, notebooks and printed ephemera documenting Allan’s professional activities and personal life between 1795 when he qualified as a solicitor and shortly before his death in 1845. It contains letters from 3 Prime Ministers (Henry Addington, Spencer Perceval and Lord Liverpool), numerous bishops, government ministers and senior legal figures. It illustrates the behind-the-scenes significance of men like Allan, whose name rarely appeared in public, but who did much to shape 19th century public life and policy across a range of spheres.

Previously unlisted, the collection has now been catalogued by Karen Jacques and will make a valuable addition to the inventory of finding aids providing access to the Methodist collections. To download the catalogue in PDF form click here: Thomas Allan Collection Catalogue.

Gareth Lloyd and Karen Jacques

Certificate of Thomas Allan's Admittance as a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, London, 15 October 1799. MAW MS 1/12.

Certificate of Thomas Allan’s Admittance as a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, London, 15 October 1799. MAW MS 1/12.