Burns's Poetical Works - Allen Cosh

Allen Cosh


Allen Battiscombe Cosh (1884-1954)

Allen B. Cosh was born in Strathmiglo, Fifeshire, Scotland on 24 August 1884. He was the son of Reverend Nathan Cosh and Myra Harrietta Battiscombe. In 1891 the whole family was living in the beautiful two story Free Church manse, on Garnock Street, in Strathmiglo. At that point the family consisted of Nathan, his wife Myra, their children Harrietta, Nathaniel, Allen, Myra Ann, and Eliza, plus two servants Christina Ann Cosh (likely a relative) and Catherine Clark Cairley.

In 1896, Allen's father died and the family moved to 1 Aitken Hall in Strathmiglo. In the 1901 Census Allen is 16 years old and working as an engineer's clerk.

In 1911 Allen immigrated to Canada and joined the Crown Life Insurance Company in Toronto. In 1913 he was promoted to provincial manager of Crown Life in Prince Edward Island.

While on the Island he met Mary Florence Bartlett, daughter of A.A. Bartlett and Margaret Scott Rankin. Page four of the Charlottetown Guardian, dated 21 April 1916, we read:

Much interest slowly centres around the invitations issued for the marriage of Miss Mary Bartlett, daughter of Major A.A. Bartlett and Mrs. Bartlett to Lieut. Allan Battiscombe Cosh of the 105th Highland Regiment, which takes place next Wednesday, April 26.

The UPEI Provenance book, The Poetical Works of Robert Burns: The poems, epistles, songs, epigrams & epitaphs, which holds the written names of “Mary & Allen Cosh" is dated 26 April 1916, proving the book was a wedding gift from Mr. James Pater.

One month later, on 17 May 1916, Allen signed up for WWI. Mary Florence is listed as Allen's next of kin on his WWI attestation papers; his occupation is listed as Insurance Agent.

In 1916 Allen's wife, Mary, traveled first class, aboard the vessel New York, from New York to Liverpool, arriving on August 13th. Her destination was listed as Canadian Office, Victoria Street, London. The 1 July 1916 Charlottetown Guardian announced that:

Mrs. Cosh left Monday morning for Valcartier where she will spend sometime with her husband, Lieut. Cosh, who is attached to “B" Company 105th Battalion.

Allen was stationed in France and Belgium between 25 February 1918 and 8 March 1919.

In 1918 Mary and Allen had a son, Alan Bartlett Cosh. It looks, very likely, that Allen would have been overseas during the time of his first child's birth. However, it appears that Mary took her infant son to England in 1918, perhaps to meet his father. Mary and young Alan returned home, from Southampton, aboard the Olympic and arrived in New York on 10 September 1918.

Allen continued, post war, working as an Engineer with the Canadian Construction Company from 16 March 1919 to 28 June 1919. Allen received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Upon his return, in 1919, Allen Cosh joined the Department of National Revenue in Charlottetown. By the time he retired he was the Chief Accessor of the Income Tax Division.

After the war Allen and his wife Mary, and their young son, lived at 175 Fitzroy Street, Mary's childhood home. In 1921 they lived there with their son and with Mary's mother, Margaret Scott Bartlett, and Allen's sister, Harriette Cheape Cosh, and two servants, Selina Gaudet and Celia McMillan.

Mary would have been pregnant when the 1921 Census was taken. She gave birth to a daughter, Allison Myra Rankin Cosh, in late August, but little Allison only lived for six days and died on 30 August 1921.

Around 1934 Allen and Mary moved to 12 West Street, Charlottetown, in the house that was previously occupied by George DesBrisay DeBlois, the new Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.

In 1943 Allen attended the inaugural meeting of the Dominion Income Tax Staff Association, which was held in Montreal. Allen Cosh was nominated as the first Regional Vice President of the Maritimes for the Association.

When he retired as Chief Accessor of the Income Tax Division Allen was given an Honorary Testimonial Dinner on 29 August 1949 to celebrate his retirement and thirty years of service.

Allen B. Cosh died on 24 September 1954 at Virginia Beach Hospital after suffering an acute cardiac arrest. He had only just arrived in Virginia, with plans to visit his son, a Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy stationed in Norfolk VA. Allen's body was returned to Charlottetown for burial.


The Guardian, 21 April 1916, pg. 4.

“Mr. A.B. Cosh Honoured at Testimonial Dinner", The Guardian, 30 August 1949, pg.1,5.

“Sudden Death in Virginia of Well Know Charlottetown Man", The Guardian of the Gulf, 25 September 1954, p.1.

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