Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
Volume 85, Part 2, December 2012, No. 303
pp. 17-54 | 10.1353/ras.2012.0009
The famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace took a young Englishman named Charles Martin Allen with him to the Malay Archipelago in 1854. Allen has remained a shadowy figure and until now almost nothing was known about his life. Wallace trained Allen to collect and prepare natural history specimens of birds and insects. Allen worked for Wallace first in Singapore, the Malay Peninsula and Sarawak (1854-6) and later in the Moluccas and New Guinea (1860-2). In the intervening years Allen was employed by the Borneo Company Ltd and was mentioned in letters by Rajah James Brooke. The considerable extent to which Allen contributed to Wallace's collecting in the Malay Archipelago has also been unappreciated. When Wallace returned home in 1862 Allen first worked in the Carimons, and—after his marriage in 1863—in the Malay Peninsula and Singapore. He worked for John Fisher, developing mines at Chindrass in Malaya and then settled as manager of the Perseverance Estate in Geylang, Singapore. Allen and his eight children became respected members of the community into the twentieth century.