As a historian and writer I feel very fortunate to be living in the Internet Age. Network computers have been a constant in my life since the 6th-grade and thanks to the rapid progression of web-technology, the once laborious process of reference-gathering has been replaced (or at least augmented) by nanosecond cyber-surfing. Routine functions like electronic archiving and keyword searches have enabled the Internet to evolve into a vast repository of historical information. Although a discerning eye and traditional researching skills are still required, the ability to quickly identify potential sources and whittle them down has been accelerated greatly. To be completely honest, I do not know if I would have ever pursued a historical writing vocation if I had to do it the slow way, you know…by hand. Actually check that - there is no way.
The ability to blog and participate in social networks such as Facebook has provided an entirely new way of meeting people. You may recall a few months back that I began a side-project searching for information on a Fredericksburg Loyalist named Adam Allan (See March 15, 2011 posts: Looking at Loyalists – and – A History Mystery). On day-one I came upon two “Adam Allans” who shared many similarities including their name. This required me to expand my study and pursue both individuals separately. This week I borrowed a few library books published by local Colonial-era historian Paula S. Felder. I am still reading them. After 2+ months I have yet to track down a definitive connection that proves these Allans are one and the same or different people.
Yesterday I received an email from a wonderful woman named Cathy in Brisbane Australia. Cathy is a direct descendant of Adam Allan’s brother John. She discovered my blog while searching the Internet and decided to contact me directly. I am grateful she did. Not only did Cathy affirm some of my own suspicions, she was kind enough to send me the family background that she had acquired along with permission to post it here. This is a perfect example of how the Internet can bring people together who otherwise would never have met. Thanks to Cathy I now have a better sense of who I am looking for. I will be sending her my conclusions when the time comes and look forward to sharing this journey with her family. Here are her findings:
I can confirm for you that the Adam Allan, who was a lieutenant in the Queen's Rangers, was christened in Dumfries, Scotland, on 4 March 1756. I have attached our copy of his christening entry (an image which is obviously subject to copyright). Adam is the first entry on the page. He was the third son of James Allan, a Dumfries shoemaker, and his wife, Margaret Black. "Shoemaker" when applied to James Allan definitely does not appear to have meant "impoverished cobbler eking out a living". All the evidence we have found so far suggests that the Allans were very comfortably placed and that Adam was a well educated young man. In addition to their shoemaking interests, the family had a farm, Fountainbleau, on the outskirts of Dumfries; a property which they continued to own well into the nineteenth century.
There is absolutely no doubt that our Adam Allan is the man who was a lieutenant in the Queen's Rangers. Adam appears to have had a bit of an artistic bent as he translated Allan Ramsey's "The Gentle Shepherd", a play that had been written in the lowland Scots vernacular, into English. He had this translation published in London in 1798 with the following title page:
THE NEW GENTLE SHEPHERD
A Pastoral Comedy
Originally Written in the Scotch Dialect by Allan Ramsey Reduced to English by Lieutenant Adam Allan
In the late 1880s, William Allan, a grandson of Adam's brother John, loaned a copy of this translation, together with a silhouette of Adam Allan, to the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Scientific, Natural History and Antiquarian Society for display purposes. These items were obviously prized family possessions. I've attached our copy of the Transactions of that Society that record the loan and note the author of the work as Lieutenant Allan of the Canadian Queen's Rangers.
As to whether Adam Allan of the Queen's Rangers and the Adam Allan in Williamsburg and Fredericksburg are the same man: When left to his own devices, our Adam spelt his surname Allan (as did all the family) just as it appears in the advertisements you uncovered. The only place I have seen it recorded as Allen is in his military records. Our Adam would have been barely 20 years old when the events in Fredericksburg took place. Twenty just seems so desperately young both to be running a stocking manufacturing business and to be being tarred and feathered for your political convictions. But maybe that's just me looking at an 18th century event through 21st century eyes.