Allan, a Scottish poet, born at Leadhills, Lanarkshire, Oct. 15, 1686, died in Edinburgh, Jan. 7, 1758. He was originally a wig maker in Edinburgh, and his first poem was written at the age of 26. He subsequently published on single or half sheets many poems on local or familiar topics. His first poem of considerable length was a continuation of King James's "Christ's Kirk on the Green" (1716). About this time he became a bookseller, being at the same time an industrious editor and author. In 1721 appeared a 4to edition of his collected poems. This was succeeded by his "Fables and Tales," "The Fair Assembly," "Health," a poem inscribed to the earl of Stair, and the "Tea Table Miscellany" (4 vols., 1724), a collection of songs, Scottish and English, which passed through 12 editions in a few years. His most important work was "The Gentle Shepherd" (1725), portions of which had appeared in his first volume of poems. He now removed to a larger shop, which soon became the resort of the wits and literary men of Edinburgh, and in which he established the first circulating library ever opened in Scotland. His last original work of importance was a collection of fables (1730). He retired from business in 1755. A complete edition of his poems, with a biography by George Chalmers, was published in 2 vols. 8vo in 1800 (new ed., with an essay on Ramsay's genius by Lord Woodhouslee, Paisley, 1874).
Allan, a portrait painter, son of the preceding, born in Edinburgh in 1713, died in Dover, Aug. 10, 1784. He was a man of literary culture, settled in London, and was a visitor at the house of Dr. Johnson. Though raised to a momentary rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds, his works are not above mediocrity.