Alen (Allen), John (1476–1534), archbishop and administrator, was the son of Edward Alen and his wife Catherine (daughter of Sir John St Leger), and cousin of Sir John Alen (qv). He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge (MA, LLB), and may have taken LLD at an Italian university; having become a priest in 1499, he was sent to Italy for nine years by Archbishop Warham of Canterbury, later becoming prebendary of Lincoln (1503) and holding several other English benefices. His closest association was with Cardinal Wolsey, to whom he was chaplain, commissary, and agent in suppressing minor monasteries (1524–5), and for whom he acted in Ireland, as his cousin acted for Thomas Cromwell. Alen was appointed chancellor of Ireland (19 September 1528), vice-legate for Ireland (1 June 1529), and archbishop of Dublin (3 September 1529; consecrated 13 March 1530); on 4 August 1529 he became a member (with Patrick Bermingham (qv) and John Rawson (qv)) of the ‘secret council’ displacing the earl of Ossory (qv) as deputy. After Wolsey's fall in October 1529 Alen suffered for their close association: he was fined 2,200 marks for offences against the statutes of provisors and praemunire in 1531, which, despite a pardon, left him short of funds. Supplanted as chancellor (5 July 1532) by his adversary George Cromer (qv), archbishop of Armagh, he was probably readmitted to council in Kildare's last term as chief governor; but in the rebellion of ‘Silken Thomas’ FitzGerald (qv), Alen – as a representative of centralising administration and church reform – was murdered in Artane, near Dublin, by FitzGerald's supporters (28 July 1534), after failing to escape to England.
DNB; H. L. Lyster Denny, ‘An account of the family of Alen, of St Wolstan's [sic], Co. Kildare’, Kildare Arch. Soc. Jn., iv (1903–5), 97–8; Brendan Bradshaw, ‘Cromwellian reform and the origins of the Kildare rebellion, 1533–34’, R. Hist. Soc. Trans., 5th ser., xxvii (1977), 69–93; NHI, ii, ix; Laurence McCorristine, The revolt of Silken Thomas: a challenge to Henry VIII (1987); Colm Lennon, Sixteenth-century Ireland: the incomplete conquest (1994), 133