Joseph Allen was born on August 15, 1790, and graduated from Harvard Divinity school in 1811. In 1816, the newly ordained Allen became pastor of the Congregational Church at Northborough, Massachusetts, a position he retained until his death on February 23, 1873.
His first son, Joseph Henry Allen (b. August 21, 1820), followed his father into the clergy after his 1840 graduation from Harvard. Joseph served congregations in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts (1843-1847); Washington, D. C. (1847-1850); and Bangor, Maine (1850-1857). Notably, he oversaw the funeral of former president John Quincy Adams. Joseph then entered the publishing industry, and worked as an editor for the Christian Examiner (1857-1869) and the Unitarian Review (1887-1891). From 1878-1882, he returned to Harvard as a professor of history. Joseph Henry Allen died in 1898.
Joseph Allen's second son, Thomas Prentiss Allen, was born in 1822 and also attended Harvard Divinity School, graduating in 1846. He spent most of his career preaching and teaching in Sterling, Massachusetts, and became involved in various temperance and antislavery movements. Thomas Prentiss Allen died in 1868.
William Francis Allen, another of Joseph Allen's sons, was born on September 5, 1830, and became a professor and head of the Ancient Languages department at the University of Wisconsin. He died in 1889.