The British Empire and its effect on Plymouth

Captain William Henry Allen

Captain William Henry Allen had commanded the American slopp Argus during the 1812 War and had fought a ferocious battle with the British sloop Pelican off the coast of Wales in 1813. The Argus had been raiding and seizing British ships as part of the American war effort. In the engagement Allen was severely wounded and lost a leg but carried on fighting even after being immobilised. Eventually, when it was clear the British were about to board the ship, he surrendered and was taken to Plymouth where he died a few days later. However the authorities insisted on burying him with full military honours which left Mill Prison with a guard of honour, two companies of Royal Marines and a Royal Marine Band playing Handel's Saul. The pallbearers were Royal Navy captains and officers and crew of all Royal Naval ships in port. They followed the coffin alongside the American crew from the Argus. There was a service at St. Andrew's Church before he was buried alongside a fellow crew member from the Argus who had been buried the previous day. This remarkable show of respect showed just how highly regarded he was in putting up a spirited fight in such desperate circumstances.

Empire in Your Backyard: Plymouth Article | Significant Individuals

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by Stephen Luscombe