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The Allan Line

Captain Alexander “Sandy” Allan was born in 1780 Scotland.

In 1800, while employed as a journeyman shoemaker near Galston, Sandy moved to Saltcoats, intent on learning to be a ship’s carpenter, but eventually gave it up to go to sea. He was soon sailing as mate to Captain Wilson of Saltcoats. Within a few years, Captain Sandy Allan had served as Master and part-owner of several small ships trading out of Saltcoats.

During the Peninsular war, the 175 ton brigantine Hero, with Captain Allan as master, was chartered by the government to transport troops and goods to the continent to supply Wellington’s army. By 1814, Sandy Allan had established a reputation as an excellent mariner and shrewd businessman.

A new ship was needed and on June 5th 1819, the Jean sailed from Greenock for Quebec with Captain Sandy Allan as master. 

The name of the Allan family became synonymous with North Atlantic shipping and remained so for over 100 years. Under the direction of Sandy, the Allan line progressed from wooden sailing ships to iron-built steamships; from a one-man operation to a leading transatlantic company. The Allan Line continued to expand throughout the second half of the 19th century until by 1884 it was the seventh-largest shipping line in the world and the largest privately owned. 

Sailing from Glasgow and Liverpool, the ships of the Allan Line probably carried more immigrants to Canada than any other line.

Captain Sandy Allan was a 5th great-granduncle of my niece’s husband.

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