Elizabeth Rayner and John Allan - Early History

Elizabeth Rayner was born 5 November 1810 in Newcastle, William Rayner's third child, but his first with Susannah Chapman.1 Elizabeth, along with her sisters Sarah and Isabella, was included in a census of children requiring an education in the Hobart district in 1822.2

Elizabeth married John Allan on 5 September 1831 in St. David's in Hobart Town. William Rayner was a witness at the wedding, along with Thomas Kerr, who married Elizabeth's sister Sarah the next year, and the officiating minister was the Senior Chaplain, William Bedford.3 From later census records it appears John Allan arrived in the colony as a convict, and as there is no permission to marry record for John and Elizabeth, circumstantially he had received a full pardon prior to 1831 and did not need to ask permission. Working soley from the date of arrival there were twelve convicts who arrived prior to September 1831 so it is difficult to ascertain which of those men would later marry Elizabeth Rayner. According to Louis Daniels:

If his age given when he died is accurate, then he was born in 1797. The closest two possible candidates who arrived in VDL were John Allen (the Younger), born in 1794, sentenced to transportation for life on 3 March 1825 in Buckinghamshire, who arrived on the Medway, or John Allan, a limeburner from Marple in Cheshire, sentenced to 7 years transportation on 12 April 1824 at Chester, who arrived on the Lady East. The latter however, was sentenced to be hanged for a later offence in the colony, and was conditionally pardoned, so it seems unlikely to have been him. This question remains unanswered.4

In fact, from a later trial record, John Allen was probably in the colony from as early as 1818, and the only likely candidate on that basis is the convict who arrived on the Lord Melville. He was convicted of larceny in Chester on 14 October 1817 and sentenced to seven years transportation, arriving in Hobart Town on 17 December 1818.5. There is nothing else recorded on his convict conduct record and he received a free certificate in October 1824.6

That later trial record also notes that he was employed on the wharves as a carter or carrier in his first decade in the colony, and it was in that position that he tendered for the rental of the Government Lime Kilns after his marriage to Elizabeth Rayner. Louis Daniels reports that:

A limekiln consisted of a large container built usually of stone, with an open top and a small access hole in the bottom. The kiln is filled with alternate layers of shells and limestone and timber, after which the top is sealed off with a layer of clay and the contents set alight. When the kiln is cooked and burned out after a few days, the burned lime was raked out of the hole in the bottom. It is then slaked with water to prepare it for use by builders and bricklayers. Mortar made from burnt lime can usually be recognised by small pieces of charcoal still in it.

A paper presented to the Royal Society of Tasmania reviewing the travels of Charles Darwin's on his visit to the colony in 1832 noted that he visit the Hobart Lime Kilns:

The limestone quarry referred to here is the former quarry in West Hobart above Burnett Street and within the block bounded by Arthur, Lochner, Hamilton and Brown Streets. It is referred to variously as "within the outskirts of Hobart Town" (M), "behind Hobart Town" (V), "Arthur Street quarry" (Statistics of Van Diemen's Land, 1842), "at Hobart Town" (Strzelecki 1845), "outskirts of Hobart Town" (Jukes 1847), "in the vicinity of Hobart" (M'Cormack, 1847), "in the suburbs of Hobart Town between Elizabeth Street and 'Knocklofty Range'" (Milligan 1849), "the neighbourhood of Burnet - street, Hobart" (Johnston 1882 and 1888) and "Shoebridge's Lime Kiln" (Ettingshausen 1883).7

Louis Daniels reports that:

...John Allan, was working as a limeburner at the government lime kilns and quarry located on 16 acres of land between what is now Brown Street (formerly Quarry Street) and Lochner Street, in North Hobart. A convict named McCoy is credited with discovering the quarry in 1813, and by 1816 it was reported in the Hobart Town Gazette as being in operation. Certainly by 1817 the government had begun to exploit the lime they found there for cement, farming and cleaning, and as clay for bricks. The lime kilns and limestone quarry continued to be used for decades with the government leasing them to private entrepreneurs in 1832, and John Allan had the lease until he lost the tender in 1846 to the farmer Richard Shoobridge. During Allan's lease 11 people were employed at the lime kilns making it quite a large industry.8

In fact Shoobridge was running the Kilns in the late 1820's before John Allen appeared on the scene. On 4 June 1827 Major Turton, Engineer, recommended to John Lee Archer that Richard Shoobridge be allowed to run the Lime Kilns in Hobart.9 The provision of lime for the use of the Government throughout the colony was obviously problematic, and at times all subsequent work on roads and public buildings ground to a halt while workers waited for suitable supplies of lime. Roderick O'Connor, the Inspector of Roads, expressed his dissatisfaction with the arrangement to George Arthur, the Lieutenant Governor, and appeared to implicate John Lee Archer as being part of the problem.

Archer in turn suggested that O'Connor should be supplying his own lime from his considerable convict resources, but investigated the issue, unhappy with O'Connor's interferance. On 27 October 1830 Archer reported that Richard Shoobridge's management of the Lime Kilns was "performed with very great remissness and neglect of the interests of the crown." Archer also reported that he had remonstrated Shoobridge but with no effect, and he then recommended that Shoobridge be removed from his position.10

To address the shortage of lime the kiln at New Norfolk was enlarged, and it was decided to advertise tenders for the Lime Kilns in both New Norfolk and Hobart. The advertisement was placed in the 26 January 1832 edition of the Government Gazette and the following tender was lodged on 29 February 1832:

To John Lee Archer Esq. Civil Engineer Sir, We beg leave to tender for renting the Government Lime Works at Hobart Town for the term of three years agreeable to your advertisment of 26 January last subject to the regulations exhibited at your offices and for which we propose to pay the sum of one hundred and fifty six pounds stirling per (season or annum)? Should the Government accept of our proposal we are prepared to give responsible security for the payment of the rent. We are Sir Your obedient servants John Allan, Carrier Liverpool Street John Baker, Lime Burner Murray Street11

The tenders were documented in a memorandum from John Lee Archer on 6 March 1832, with eight tenders received for the works in Hobart, and two tenders received for the works in New Town. In that memo Archer recommended that "Allen and Bakers offer for the Hobart Town Kilns" be accepted.12

The relationship between John Baker and John Allen soured quite quickly however, and by the end of their first year the partnership was dissolved.13 John Allen continued to be affiliated with the venture, but it was re-tendered after three years and by 1835 William Cleary and George Davis were mananging the Kilns. In 1836 their partnership was also dissolved but for some reason John Allen's association with the site was maintained up until at least 1843.14

In late 1837 John Allen was charged by Thomas George Gregson of stealing a horse and it was during this trial that various witnesses reported knowing him for up to 20 years in the colony. The substance of the case is that Gregson charges Allen with stealing his horse, while Allen maintains he claimed the horse on the belief it was his property. Thomas Rowlands, Allen’s attorney, bases his defence on his client’s character, and on the fact that Allen never attempts to change the appearance of the horse, and so does not act in the manner of someone who stole the contentious property. The action proved successful, for while the jury decides it is Gregson’s horse, Allen is acquitted of stealing the animal. The full details of the case, Gregson v Allen, are available as an appendix to this report.

During this time Elizabeth Rayner and John Allan started what would become a rather large family, with the birth of Ann Ellen Allan on 3 June 1833 in Hobart, Van Diemen's Land, which for some reason was registered twice.15 Ann was christened on 18 September 1833 in St. David's in Hobart.16 Ann was followed by Grace Allan, born on 21 August 1834 in Hobart.17 Grace was christened on 11 January 1835 in St. David's in Hobart.18

For some reason Elizabeth and John Allan had a number of children over the next five years but they were not registered. Jane Allan was born in 1836 in Hobart, and Emma Allan shortly after.19 Louis Daniels discussed the potential existence of another child during this period:

No baptism or birth records appear for Jane or Emma, and John's Will implies that there was another son, John Henry Allan, born after Grace, and before Emma. A John Henry Allen aged 34 married Mary Ann Smith, aged 25, on 25 January 1873, at the residence of Mr G Atkison, Hobart. He was an organ builder. The witnesses were G. Atkison, Elizabeth Atkison, Hannah Atkison, and Emma Robinson. There are no clues linking him to the Allans, but he would have been born in 1839. It is possible that John and Elizabeth were not in Hobart for the years 1835 to 1840, which would explain the absence of baptism records at St David's or Holy Trinity.20

From later documentation it is believed John Henry Allan was indeed another child of John Allan and Elizabeth Rayner. A child of the appropriate age appears in both the 1842 and 1843 census, and John and Elizabeth are named as John Henry Allan's parent's in his death registration. The 1842 census record however does not add a lot of clarity to the overall picture of the family. John Allen is recorded as the head of the house which was the Government Lime Kilns. The house, owned by the crown, was made of brick and 11 people in total were living there on 31 December 1841. There was one male and two females under 2, one male between 2 and 7, one female between 7 and 14, three single men between 21 and 42, one married man (John) and one married woman (Elizabeth). In addition, there was one male over 60. If John Henry was one of the boys who was the other young male? John and Elizabeth had four girls by 1842 (Ann Ellen, Grace, Jane and Emma) so one would appear to be missing, and who was the elderly man?

The census confirms that John Allan was a convict, as the married man is in the "other free person" class. Elizabeth is also in that class because she was born in Newcastle. The three other girls were all born in the colony, as were two of the single males. All the other males were "other free persons". All individuals were in the Church of England, and none of them were placed in an occupation category.21

The next confirmed birth to the couple was with the arrival of Helen Allan who was born on 26 October 1842 in Hobart, Van Diemen's Land.22 At the beginning of 1843 another census was taken with the family still living at the Government Lime Kiln. Again we have a young male, this time between 2 and under 7, probably John Henry. There were five girls in all which now matches with the number of known girls in the family. John and Elizabeth are the only married individuals, John between 45 and 60 and Elizabeth between 21 and 45. There were two additional men between 45 and 60, no doubt assigned servants. In all other respects this return matched the earlier census.23

Later in 1843 Helen was followed by William Allan, born on 17 September 1843 in Hobart, Van Diemen's Land.24 William was baptised on 14 October 1843 in the Holy Trinity Church.25 He died two days later on 16 October 1843 and was buried on 18 October 1843.26 Louis Daniels records that William was born in the Dallas Arms but this doesn't seem to match with the historical timeline:

When William Allan was baptised in September 1843, the Allan family was already living at the "Dallas Arms", but John's occupation was still listed as limeburner. From then on he was always described as a licensed victualler.27

Daniels also related that:

...family tradition has it that William [Rayner] bought the "Dallas Arms" for his eldest daughter and her limeburner husband, lifting him further up the road to his own prosperity. However it was twelve years between their marriage and the purchase of the Dallas Arms, so this may be no more than legend.28

On 1 October 1844 the Hobart Town Gazette announced:

a license to retail wines, spirits, etc. for the period ending 29th September in the year now ensuing (provided it not be forfeited before such date) has been granted to the undermentioned individuals respectively.

Included in the list for the first time was John Allan, of the "Dallas Arms", a license he held until his death. The hotel was situated on the main road leading from Hobart to the settled areas further up the Derwent river, and beyond to Launceston, so was well placed for business. Even so, there were strict trading laws that made a publican's life difficult as demonstrated in the following article:

On Friday an attempt at the crusade against the publicans was made, and to a certainement substantiated. John Chard was fined 3 (pounds) and costs for a breach of the Sunday clause. Neither cannot, in our conscience, find fault with this conviction, neither can we find any fault with another conviction, in the case of Mr. John Allan, of the Dallas Arms, who was fined 10s and costs, for a similar offence.29

Two months after the publication of that article Peter William Allan was born on 28 November 1844 in New Town, Van Diemen's Land.30 Peter was baptised on 29 December 1844 in the Holy Trinity Church in Hobart, Tasmania.31 Peter was followed by Henry John Allan, born on 24 April 1846 in Elizabeth Street, Hobart, Van Diemen's Land. He was recorded as an unknown male for the event, and his mother was recorded as Elizabeth Stainer.32

By the beginning of 1847 the Allan family comprised John, Elizabeth, Ann (13), Grace (12), Jane (11), Emma (approx. 9), potentially John Henry (8), Helen (4), Peter (2) and Henry (an infant). Henry was baptised on 14 February 1847 in Holy Trinity Church in Hobart.33 Another boy was added to the family with the birth of George Allan on 24 October 1847 in Elizabeth Street, Hobart, Van Diemen's Land.34 George was baptised on 25 February 1848 in Holy Trinity Church in Hobart.35

On Friday 28 July 1848 the Allan family had a near escape when the roof of the 'Dallas Arms' caught fire due to sparks from a low chimney. Had it not been promptly got under control by the exertions of some workmen, then it would have burned down the whole house. If it had caught fire at night, the family would have been unlikely to have survived. A considerable portion of the roof was destroyed, but John Allan was insured through the Tasmanian Insurance Office.36 John was obviously careful in his business dealings, and neighbourly with those who lived near him, represented in the following advertisment placed by W. Robertson living opposite the Dallas Arms:

TO Let, two newly-erected Houses, situate on the New Town Road, opposite Mr. Allan's, "Dallas Arms," containing each five rooms, with detached kitchens. Rent, £6 per annum. Apply to Mr. W. Robertson, " Hammer-in-Hand," Park-street, or Mr. Allan, opposite.37

In 1849, Elizabeth was woken about half past one o'clock by the crying of her child, probably George, to find an intruder with a dark lantern in her room ransacking the drawers where they usually kept their money. When he heard the noise he fled. Elizabeth woke John, who pursued the burglar, but fell over something, and the thief escaped without taking anything. He had broken in by removing a pane of glass and forcing the window shutters.38

Dealing with these incidents and operating a public house no doubt kept the whole family busy, but John and Elizabeth were still adding to their already large number of children. Francis Allan was born on 19 April 1849 in the 'Dallas Arms', Elizabeth Street, Hobart.39 Francis was baptised on 27 April 1849 in Holy Trinity Church, Hobart.40 Francis died however just a couple of days later although there is no state registration of the death. Her burial occurred on 2 May 1849 in Hobart and was recorded in the Holy Trinity Church Burial Register.41

The year after, James Albert Allan was born on 2 November 1850 in the "Dallas Arms", Elizabeth Street, Hobart.42 James was baptised on 8 December 1850 in the Holy Trinity Church, Hobart.43 James was the last of John and Elizabeth's children but that is not to say the family numbers remained static. The year after James' birth Peter William Allan died at the age of six on 18 June 1851 in Hobart. The cause of death was recorded as croup.44

This biography continues on the Elizabeth Rayner and John Allan - Later History page.

  • 1. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania [S.1. A.1. 1833-1857]
  • 2. A List of Males and Females having both parents living in the District of Hobart containing name, age & character as far as can be ascertained: Archives Office of Tasmania [ref: CSO 1/122a p. 92 & p. 96]
  • 3. AOT Marriage Registration RGD 1831/1608
  • 4. Daniels, Louis: The Allan Family; Privately Published; 1999
  • 5. AOT Convict Conduct Records CON31/1/1
  • 6. Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser Friday 22 October 1824
  • 7. Banks, Maxwell and Leaman, David: CHARLES DARWIN'S FIELD NOTES ON THE GEOLOGY OF HOBART TOWN — A MODERN APPRAISAL; Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, Volume 133(1), 1999
  • 8. Daniels, Louis: The Allan Family; Privately Published; 1999
  • 9. AOT CSO1/1/113 2822 pp.82-83
  • 10. AOT CSO1/1/113 2822 pp.102-103
  • 11. AOT CSO1/1/113 2822 p. 122
  • 12. AOT CSO1/1/113 2822 p. 118
  • 13. The Hobart Town Courier Friday 14 December 1832
  • 14. The Hobart Town Courier Friday 8 January 1836
  • 15. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1833/4815 and RGD 1833/5065
  • 16. AOT Baptism Registration NS282/8/1/1-4
  • 17. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1835/5973
  • 18. AOT Baptism Registration NS282/8/1/1-4
  • 19. The existence of these children in the family is substantiated by events later on, including the last will and testament of John Allan.
  • 20. Daniels, Louis: The Allan Family; Privately Published; 1999
  • 21. AOT Census Records 1842 CEN1-1-23-129
  • 22. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1843/2081
  • 23. AOT Census Records 1843 CEN1-1-61-99
  • 24. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1843/1791
  • 25. AOT Baptism Registration NS349/1/1-2
  • 26. AOT Death Registration RGD 1843/1841 and AOT Burial Registration NS282/11/1/1
  • 27. Daniels, Louis: The Allan Family; Privately Published; 1999 (There was another publican John Allen in Hobart at that time, at the 'Harvest Home', New Town Road. This man died on 13 February 1845 at his home in Veteran's Row, from consumption, aged 56. AOT Death Registration 1845/506)
  • 28. Daniels, Louis: The Allan Family; Privately Published; 1999
  • 29. Colonial Times Tuesday 10 September 1844
  • 30. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1844/686
  • 31. AOT Baptism Registration NS349/1/1-2
  • 32. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1846/1712
  • 33. AOT Baptism Registration NS349/1/1-2
  • 34. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1847/358
  • 35. AOT Baptism Registration NS349/1/1-2
  • 36. Daniels, Louis: The Allan Family; Privately Published; 1999
  • 37. Colonial Times Friday 23 February 1849
  • 38. Daniels, Louis: The Allan Family; Privately Published; 1999 (this event has not been substantiated in any other records to date).
  • 39. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1849/1438
  • 40. AOT Baptism Registration NS349/1/1-2
  • 41. AOT Burial Registration NS282/11/1/1
  • 42. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1850/2846
  • 43. AOT Baptism Registration NS349/1/1-2
  • 44. AOT Death Registration RGD 1851/760