This beautiful little locket stands about six centimetres high and contains a hand painted water colour miniature of early colonist Captain William Allen.
The subject of this fascinating miniature had already lived a remarkable life that was spiced with adventure during the years prior to his arrival on South Australian shores.
Born in Dover around 1790, Allen, at the age of 15, entered the navy of the East India Company and served in his first ship, the Sullimany, for three years. Later, he transferred to the company’s merchant service and as a proficient officer, rose rapidly to command.
In 1834, while master of the Ann, bound from Canton to Bombay, the Lascar seamen mutinied and one of the vessel’s mates was killed. Displaying great courage and defiance, Captain Allen knocked the leader down with an oar and practically quelled the mutiny single-handed. Order restored, he took his ship to Singapore where the mutineers were tried and their leaders executed.
Allen traded from India for about 25 years, returning to England in 1837. In search of new adventure, he sailed for South Australia in the Buckinghamshire, arriving in March 1839. Allen was to become better known in the colony as a pastoralist, mining investor and a generous philanthropist.
In the back of the gold locket is a plait of brown hair and the filigree gold initials ‘WA’. Both this and the charming hand painted miniature remain as a small testimonial to a gentleman who was indeed, an esteemed South Australian.
However, one question still remains – as William never married, who was it that commissioned the creation of this beautiful locket and had the plait of hair placed within?