Quaker Man Dressed in Simplicity
300 years of Quakers in Tottenham

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Tottenham Quakers

William Allen (1770-1843)

William Allen was the son of a Spitalfields silk weaver. From an early age he showed an interest in science, constructing a telescope through which he observed the satellites of Jupiter. His interest in chemistry aroused the attention of Joseph Gurney Bevan, a pharmacist, who took William into his business in 1792. William continued to run the business after Joseph Bevan retired. The business eventually became Allen and Hanbury, a pharmaceutical company still in existence today.

William Allen lectured in chemistry at Guy's Hospital and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was also a founder member of the Geological Society, the Mineralogical Society and the Pharmaceutical Society (of which he was the first president).

From a young age he saw the abhorrence of slavery. At the age of nineteen he realised that opposition to slavery should be matched by "disusing those commodities procured by the labour of slaves", deciding that "as sugar is undoubtedly one of the chief, I resolve, through divine assistance, to persevere in the disuse of it until the Slave Trade shall be abolished".

William Allen was concerned about the rights of all people. He was instrumental in a survey of 1,504 families so that the roots of poverty might be understood. He also set up a society to work against capital punishment.


Quaker Woman