The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Hannay, Allen Burroughs (1892–1983)

Rachel M. DeForest Biography

Allen Hannay, lawyer and judge, was born in Hempstead, Texas, on February 14, 1892, the son of Robert Edwards and Katherine Donaldson (Allen) Hannay. His father was a United States attorney and served as state attorney in six counties. Hannay finished high school at the age of fifteen, attended Texas A&M, and graduated from the University of Texas law school when he was twenty-one. He became the youngest county judge in the nation at the age of twenty-three. He enlisted in officers' training school as a private in World War I, supervised the Hempstead draft board, and taught beginning pilots military aeronautics. In 1918 he moved to Houston and became a law partner of Maurice Hirsch. In 1930 Hannay was appointed judge of the 113th Civil Court. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him to the federal bench on August 12, 1942, where he served as chief judge of the Southern District from 1954 to 1962. He relinquished this position when required to do so at the age of seventy, but continued presiding over cases. When he died at the age of ninety-one he was the oldest active federal judge in the nation. Hannay's judicial rulings were generally on the conservative side, but he became a favorite of environmental groups when he ruled that Armco Steel Company had to cease polluting the Houston Ship Channel. He was also involved in parts of Muhammed Ali's draft evasion trial (1967). In another case he demonstrated his fairness and commitment to equal rights when he ordered a Channelview school to allow a divorced female student to participate in extracurricular activities. Besides his illustrious judicial career, Hannay was a member of the Houston Buffs, a professional baseball team. He met Frances Johnson in Columbus, Ohio, during World War I. They were married on July 16, 1918, and had two children. Judge Hannay died on October 22, 1983.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in America, 1946–47.


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges

Time Periods:

  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II


  • Houston

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Rachel M. DeForest, “Hannay, Allen Burroughs,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 01, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: