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Born in London in 1800, George Allen came to Sydney in 1816 with his mother and siblings. He was articled to the government solicitor and was admitted as a solicitor in 1822, the first solicitor to receive his training in NSW. The law firm he established is known as the oldest law firm in Australia and is today part of the international firm, Allens Arthur Robinson.

George Allen also led an active public life, serving as Mayor of Sydney (1844-45), President of the Bank of NSW (1860-66), Member of the Legislative Council (1845-73) and Fellow of the Senate at the University of Sydney (1859-77) as well as being a major figure in the Methodist community. He married Jane Bowden in 1823 and she produced five boys and five girls who survived infancy, the most noteworthy, historically, being George Wigram Allen in 1824.

Glebe Connections

George Allen, image from State Library of NSW
George Allen, image from State Library of NSW

By 1831 George Allen had acquired 96 acres (39ha) of Glebe land and commissioned John Verge to build Toxteth Park, the foundation stone for which was laid on 21 March 1829. He and his family lived there for the rest of his life. The house, with a third storey added in 1881, is now St Scholastica’s College, Avenue Road. Toxteth Park stretched from Rozelle Bay along Glebe Road to Wigram Lane, its southernmost boundary, and then continued down to Orphan School Creek. George Allen died in 1877 and the first major subdivision auction of Toxteth Park took place in 1884, with further building sites released in 1886 and 1887.

George Allen’s influence on the development of Glebe lasted beyond his lifetime. As Max Solling states in Grandeur and Grit, “The Allen family sought to preserve a socially exclusive suburban ideal by inserting covenants on the titles, stipulating the type of building materials and prohibiting commercial land use. They also exercised control over terrace development by initially granting the new owner a thirty year lease and requiring the builder to submit plans and specification to the executors for approval. After plans were approved the lessee could exercise an option to purchase the freehold.” (p98)

The final tracts of Toxteth Park were released at auction in 1904 and 1907, with the residential streetscapes largely completed by 1915.

More information

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Dictionary of Sydney
Glebe Walks – Toxteth Park

Glebe Walks – Late Victorian Streetscapes
Max Solling, Grandeur and Grit: a history of Glebe, Halstead Press, Sydney, 2007, pp 52-54; 98-99

Posted on April 6, 2013 by Peter

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