Allard, François Marie Jean

1824 - 1898
Missionary, Missions Etrangères de Paris (MEP)
Roman Catholic
Malaya and Singapore

François Marie Jean Allard was born on December 10, 1824 in the commune of La Roche-de-Rame, Hautes-Alpes, France.[1] His road towards a religious life began at the minor seminary of Embrun, before he made his way to the major seminary of Gap. Finally, on July 1, 1847, he joined the MEP seminary as a deacon, being ordained into the priesthood a year later on June 17, 1848.[2] Not long after his ordination, he was assigned to Malaya and he set sail on September 6 that same year.[3]

Upon his arrival in Malaya, Father Allard was sent to Malacca where he would spend the first 16 years of his life as a missionary.[4] The first major project he would undertake was the Francis Xavier Church in Malacca. Although Father Pierre Favre designed and began the construction of the building in 1849, when Father Favre had to leave for a fundraising campaign in South America, it was Father Allard who took charge of the continuation of the building work and eventually saw it to completion in 1856.[5] During this same period, Father Allard also constructed a chapel dedicated to St John the Baptiste at Bandar Hilir, the same location where a previous chapel by the Portuguese dedicated to the same saint once stood, and where the famous St Paul’s Church stands today.[6] 

In addition to his church-building work, Father Allard took it upon himself to go around the town and find children who could not afford to receive formal education. He provided them with an education himself, along the way learning the Chinese language and becoming well-respected and loved among the community and his fellow clergy.[7]

After many years in Malacca and with his newfound proficiency in the Chinese language, Father Allard was transferred to Province Wellesley (today Seberang Perai) in 1869, to lead the Catholics of the predominantly Chinese community of Hakka farmers in Penang.[8] While the centre of the Catholic community was previously in Batu Kawan, an infestation of pests led to the destruction of the crops and thus, Father Allard set up his residence in Bukit Mertajam and started a parish at Pagar Tras, where he resided for the next five years.[9]

The signing of the Pangkor Treaty on January 20, 1874 saw the British yielding great influence over the state of Perak. The French missionaries, who were fearful of how this might affect their mission work, saw a need to strengthen their foothold among the Catholic community there.[10] In 1875, Father Allard was assigned to Taiping for this mission. He hoped to bring with him some of the members of the Catholic community from Bukit Mertajam with whom he had established strong ties. He managed to establish good relations with the British Resident in Perak and was able to acquire about 100 acres of land near Taiping. His goal was to establish a Christian community there and get the Pagar Tras parishioners from Bukit Mertajam to cultivate the land.[11] However, the land which was rich in tin was unsuitable for agriculture. Many of the Catholics who followed Father Allard soon left to settle elsewhere, with some ending up in the Kinta valley where Father Allard would find himself later.[12] Father Allard constructed a small wooden church, the original Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, on a hill in Klian Pauh, Taiping. The rapid growth of the Catholic community over the coming years led to it being demolished in 1884 to make way for a bigger church of the same name.[13]

After spending 32 years in Malaya, five of them in Taiping, Father Allard fell ill and was called by Bishop Gasnier to recuperate in Pulau Tikus, Penang. There, he spent two years as priest at the Immaculate Conception Parish. He then went to the sanatorium in Hong Kong for further rest and recovery.[14] Three years later, he returned to work. In 1883, Father Allard made his way to the Kinta district after learning that the Catholics there were without a church or priest to provide formal guidance. After a long and tedious process, he eventually succeeded in acquiring a generous piece of land to build a church and presbytery. He established the St Joseph’s Church in Batu Gajah, paving the way for the growth of Catholicism in Ipoh.[15]He spent his remaining years in this district helping to nurture a faithful and strong community of Christians. Finally, his health would no longer allow him to continue and he retired to the Bethany sanatorium in Hong Kong, where he passed away on June 4, 1898 at the age of 74.[16]


  1. ^ The France-Asia Research Institute (IRFA), “François Allard – Biography” accessedFebruary 10, 2024,
  2. ^ IRFA, “François Allard – Biography”
  3. ^ IRFA, “François Allard – Biography”
  4. ^ Bishop Rene Fee, “François Allard – Obituary” The France-Asia Research Institute(IRFA), February 10, 2024,
  5. ^ Bishop Fee, “François Allard – Obituary”
  6. ^ Bishop Fee, “François Allard – Obituary”
  7. ^ Bishop Fee, “François Allard – Obituary”
  8. ^ Rene Edouard Cardon, “Catholicism in the East: The Diocese of Malacca (1511-1888)”, Reprinted from the Malaya Catholic Leader, 1938, p.39
  9. ^ IRFA, “François Allard – Biography”
  10. ^ Cardon, “Catholicism in the East”, p.39
  11. ^ 11. Cardon, “Catholicism in the East”, p.39
  12. ^ 11. Cardon, “Catholicism in the East”, p.39
  13. ^ Sharon Ng Kooi Kin, “The Tale of Taiping’s Three Bells” Free Malaysia Today,December 23 2020.
  14. ^ IRFA, “François Allard – Biography”
  15. ^ Cardon, “Catholicism in the East”, p.40
  16. ^ IRFA, “François Allard – Biography”

S.A. Richard

The writer has a degree in history with a minor in archaeology from Monash University, and a masters in folklore and ethnology from University College Dublin. Her research interests lie in the fields of cultural, social and religious history, as well as in literary, folkloric and oral narrative traditions.


Cardon, Rene Edouard, “Catholicism in the East: The Diocese of Malacca (1511-1888)”,
Reprinted from the Malaya Catholic Leader, 1938.

Bishop Fee, Rene, “François Allard – Obituary” The France-Asia Research Institute (IRFA),
February 10, 2024,

Ng Kooi Kin, Sharon, “The Tale of Taiping’s Three Bells” Free Malaysia Today, December
23 2020, accessed from…-

The France-Asia Research Institute (IRFA), “François Allard – Biography” accessed
February 10, 2024,