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John D. Allen

Rank(s): Ordinary Seaman

Dates of Service: 7/10/1812 - 12/29/1812

Birth Date: 9/27/1775

Death Date: 12/29/1812

Early Life

Allen was born a mere five months after the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in September 27, 1775, while his parents resided in Beverly, Massachusetts. His father, Davis Allen, served in the Continental Army.

Allen was born to Davis Allen and Charity Lurvey and had two younger sisters, Elizabeth and Abigail. Later in life, Reverend Joseph McKeen married Allen and Lydia Patch on August 14, 1800 in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Early Experience

Allen first worked as a mariner in 1800 in his hometown of Beverly. Upon entering the United States Navy, Allen was first assigned to USS President, where he served as a seaman. Sometime later he deserted President.

After deserting President, Allen signed on with Constitution on July 10, 1812 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Allen held the rank of a Seaman aboard Constitution and had to perform the duties that were required for the proper sailing and daily maintenance of the vessel. He was also responsible for his watches at night and early morning.

Among the enlisted men, ordinary seamen stood in the middle of the lower-deck hierarchy. These men had typically sailed one or two voyages and knew basic seamanship. Like the able seamen, they too could “hand, reef, and steer,” but some of the more complicated maneuvers were foreign to them. Many ordinary seamen would have been numbered among the topmen, the young and agile crewmembers who were responsible for working aloft on the masts and yards. The ordinary seaman made $10.00 per month.

Battles and Engagements

During battle Allen’s station was to man the wheel at the helm. Allen participated in and survived the battle with HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812, but lost his life during the battle against the Java four months later on December 29, 1812. During the engagement, British shot directly hit the wheel where he was stationed.

After his death, Allen’s wife Lydia received a pension of $6 a month from the United States government.

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