Also Known As
- Agnes Allen (♀)
Agnes Allan was born in Ulster where her family had settled after leaving Ayrshire, in Scotland, during the Stuart religious persecutions. In 1809, Agnes' father, Joseph, moved his family to Irvine in 1809, where they lived in the Bridgegate. They were religious dissenters and attended the Burgher Kirk. Agnes was the eldest of six daughters.
Agnes did not change her name on marriage and family legend has it that, instead, John changed his, out of gallantry for his wife. Agnes also claimed that her family was related to the founder of the Allan line of steamers.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Scottish society in the Highlands suffered severely from the collapse of its system of chiefs and fighting clans. As the population increased, overcrowding occurred and subsistence farming did not meet food needs. In order to create space for sheep farming many major landowners evicted crofters, sometimes burning their cottages.
The Allans were weavers and small farmers and in 1842 John and Agnes emigrated to New Zealand with their four sons and three daughters.
They were not simply seeking to escape the poverty and tense political situation; another reason for leaving was to found a church in which they could worship, in their own way, without interference. The Allans were religious dissenters and had attended the Burgher Kirk, in Kilmarnock, one of many sects that split from the Church of Scotland during the 18th century.
The voyage, aboard the sailing ship New Zealand, lasted 123 days. They settled in Nelson but owing to difficulties over land tenure and with Maoris, moved to Dunedin in 1848 when the Otago settlement was formed.
Agnes and her husband lived in Anderson's Bay for two years before taking up land at East Taieri, in 1850. Agnes named the farm Bellfield, probably after her Ayrshire home. She resided there until her death in 1891.
Agnes was regarded by her neighbours as a maternal figure. Joseph Allan Anderson ♂, a grandson, recalled her being sent for frequently when sickness occurred and also gatherings of mothers at Bellfield, getting their children vaccinated.
The attendance at Agnes' funeral was one of the largest of any that ever took place in the Taieri.
- Notes: Origins in Ulster and Irvine. Religious dissent. Husband's adoption of her family name. Occupation (weaver). Residences (Anderson's Bay, Bellfield) and naming of Bellfield.
- Event (birth): Parents and location (Ulster).
- Event (death): Date and location (Bellfield).