The Birth of Sir Anthony Deane

In the first of a multi-part series detailing the life of Sir Anthony Deane, which will bring to light new information about the grand naval architect, it makes sense to begin at the beginning, and determine when and where Deane was born. Let us start by ruling out certain possibilities.

For the “when”, the most common year given for Deane’s birth, with sources ranging from Wikipedia to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, is 1638. The basis for this estimate appears to be the licence issued for his final marriage to Dame Christian Dawes – the record, dated July 22 1678, describes Deane as “about 40”, and so 1678 – 40 = 1638. However, as the “about” implies, the ages given in these licences were merely estimates (probably by those issuing the licences themselves), and could quite easily be out by a number of years; one example of this comes from Christian herself, whose prior marriage, to Sir John Dawes, also has a corresponding licence record. This one is dated April 21 1663, and states that Christian was just 16. So, unless she aged 24 years in the space of 15, it is safe to say these were not the most accurate of estimates, and so the calculated birth year of Deane as 1638 can be taken with a pinch of salt.

A rarer, but more likely, possibility is that Deane was born in 1625 – as seen on a Deane family history site. The basis for this is a contemporary account of his death, dated June 11 1721, which states he was “in the 96th year of his Age”, and so 1721 – 96 = 1625. This also appears to have been an estimate, rather than directly sourced from Deane himself. While there is less reason to doubt this, evidence which will be detailed in this and future parts suggests it is also inaccurate.

As for the “where”, it was unfortunately not Harwich. As implied in previous blog posts, we know that Sir Anthony was buried at Charterhouse Yard (now Square), London, in 1721, though we also know (by viewing the Harwich parish registers on the ERO website) the two “feasible” Anthony Deanes of Harwich were buried in 1647 and 1658 (and a third was born in 1644, far too late to be Sir Anthony). Therefore, the Deanes of Harwich are accounted for, and Sir Anthony cannot be any of them.

So, when and where was Sir Anthony Deane born? The most reasonable explanation can be sourced initially from the History of Parliament Online, which states he was born in Gloucestershire on December 3 1633, the second son of Anthony & Elizabeth Deane of London. This is a lot to take in, so let’s break it down.

The primary source for much of this information is the admissions register of the Merchant Taylors’ School for 1646. We see his birth date given, that he was the second son of Ant[h]ony Deane, a gentleman, and that he was specifically of Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. Unfortunately, in typical genealogical fashion, the existing parish registers for Stow-on-the-Wold go up to 1632, before leaping to 1660, so no further evidence can be gleaned from there.

Sir Anthony’s supposed parents, Anthony Deane and Elizabeth Wright, married at Greenwich St Alfege on October 1 1629. Future posts will show that Greenwich played an important role in Deane’s early life. The fact he is described as their second son in the school register is backed up by the Greenwich baptism register, thanks to the baptism of William Deane, son of Anthony, on February 4 1631. The implication is that Sir Anthony’s father returned to his home county after this, which is where Sir Anthony, and perhaps others, were born.

There is one further piece of evidence to back this up. In 1683, Sir Anthony was granted the right to bear a coat of arms; the record of this calls him the son of Anthony, gentleman of London, who was in turn the son of Anthony of Gloucestershire.

In summary, Sir Anthony Deane was (probably) born on the 3rd of December 1633, in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, the second son of Anthony Deane, gentleman of London, and Elizabeth, née Wright. Part two of this series will discuss his early life.

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Food for Thought

A little something for us all to consider:


The fine Charity-School-House at Harwich, built by a Gift of Alderman Parsons when he was chose Member of Parliament there, is now finished: This good Example is recommended, instead of Eating and Drinking.

Stamford Mercury, 31st October 1728

The First Parish Register: II

Following on from Part I.

A new century brought with it a new language to the register: Latin. A combination of Thomas Drax becoming vicar in 1601, a prideful Anglican and Latin scholar, and James I ascending to the throne in 1603, led to the clerk at the time seamlessly transitioning to writing records in Latin, and with the odd exception this remained the case until Drax’s death at the start of 1619.

The register reverted to English for the majority of the incumbency of the succeeding vicar, William Innes, and from then until the register ends, the language switches between English and Latin largely depending on who wrote the entries at the time. While it was by no means unusual for Latin to be used so prominently in those days, the inconsistent approach was certainly peculiar, and perhaps indicates a constant power struggle of a sort, vicars with different backgrounds and approaches.

A perfect example of this came in the 1640s, a period which could charitably be described as the height of factional conflict. Innes’ successor, Charles Bainbridge, took an unscheduled leave of absence from the vicarage in 1643, and so in his place was chosen Thomas Wood, described as an “orthodox Divine“. Wood was perhaps too orthodox, however – as this record explains, he “enveighs against the Church of England, refuses to bury, baptise, or marry, except after a fashion of his own etc., etc.“. The patchy, muddled records in the register during this period attest to this (and in the case of marriages, no records at all for four years).

As mentioned in the first part, although this first register only goes up until the end of 1652 (old style), it continued to see use until the late 1670s – as woeful as the tales of neglect are from the first register, they are not a patch on the shocking state of the second register during the latter half of the 17th century. Records were sporadic at best, and some were put into the first register for seemingly no reason besides that there were spaces and it was convenient to do so!

The First Parish Register

The oldest existing parish register for St Nicholas church covers almost an entire century, from the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I, to the early years of the Commonwealth in the 1650s (with a smattering of records from the 1660s and 70s).

This first register started as a copy – evidence suggests that the original registers went back as far as 1538, the year where such records were first taken, but if this was the case, those registers have been lost for centuries; in 1812, under a brand new Act for “regulating and preserving Parish and other Registers“, the vicar of the time, William Whinfield, conducted an audit of all the existing registers, and wrote on the front that the register in question was “No. 1 from 1559 till 1652”.

The copy appears to have been created shortly after Hugh Branham took over as vicar in 1574, and was undertaken by himself and the churchwardens of the time.

The reason behind this blog post is that this register holds much more information than the names and dates contained within – the structure, the gaps and vacancies, the styles of handwriting, and even the languages used, tell tales of intrigue, and of conflicts and struggles within the church in that era.

One such tale comes from a gap between May 1565 to June 1571 where, barring a couple of exceptions, no birth, marriage, or burial records were taken. This large gap is best known for being the period when Christopher Jones, master of the Mayflower, would have been born and baptised, but such a record, along with many others, is lost to the mists of time. The reason for such a significant gap has never been made clear, but it may be related to another unusual quirk of the early years of the register.

Back in these days, and indeed officially until 1752, the first day of a new year was on March 25, so the days between January 1-March 24 were still considered part of the previous year (for example, I am writing this in January 2019, but under the old system it would currently be January 2018). The early years of the register, up until 1564 inclusive, follow this as expected, but for an unknown reason, a decision was made to treat January 1 as the start of the year, so the few existing records for 1565 begin from that date.

It is possible that this was seen as an act of Catholic defiance, at a time when the Protestant monarch was the subject of plots involving replacing her with her Catholic cousin. The refusal to record parish affairs may have in itself been a protest. However, when records resumed in 1571, it is clear no compromise was made, as January 1 was still taken as the start of the year for the next decade. The start of the year eventually reverted to being March 25, but in rather confusing circumstances.

As stated, from 1571, when births, marriages, and deaths were once again recorded, up until 1582 inclusive, January 1 was taken as the first day of the year, which as a reminder was highly unusual for the time. But in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar was formally introduced and adopted by a number of Catholic countries, which for many of them also meant the start of the year was January 1. This appears to have prompted a reversal in the St Nicholas register, as follows…

1583 began like previous years, with January 1 being taken as the start of the year, and from then until March records were taken as normal. However, in bringing things back to “normal”, for the period of time when both calendars agreed the year was 1583 (so from March 25 to December 31), no records were taken. There is therefore a seamless gap in the register at this point, until the following January, when marriages and burials were recorded again – this period, from January 1 to March 24, was now considered part of 1583 (but what we would consider 1584), and from March 25 all records resumed, it officially being 1584. I said it was confusing!

In the decade or so that followed, there is still evidence of the occasional slip up, but for the most part the beginning of the year was taken as March 25, in line with the rest of England.

As this is going on a bit, there will be a second part, discussing this first register in the 17th century, with stories of Latin and neglect.

Ten Medallions

Construction of the Great Eastern Hotel, now known as Quayside Court, commenced on April 27 1864, and the hotel was formally opened on June 1 the following year. Contemporary records detailing the hotel’s design make note of ten “medallions”, busts of important figures, consistently referred to as Sovereigns who had visited Harwich throughout history. The medallions, which still exist to this day, do not seem universally regal, however – only half appear to be monarchs, with the others appearing to be dignitaries and prominent mariners. None of the contemporary records explain precisely who these ten people are, so we must discover this for ourselves.

There exists a webpage, created by two visitors to Harwich, René & Peter van der Krogt, which makes an effort to identify the ten, with mixed success. The page gives seven names, two uncertain, and one which is provably incorrect – Christopher Jones was not notable at the time, as his, and therefore Harwich’s, connection to the Mayflower was not discovered until the early 20th century. Using that page as a guide, let’s go into detail.

#1 – Said to be Henry III.

Purely from the hairstyle, could be a number of monarchs, including Richard II, but going by the crown this is more likely to be Edward II, who confirmed what is regarded as the earliest charter specifically granted to Harwich, by Thomas de Brotherton in 1318.

#2 – One of three unknowns.

The design is almost certainly a Tudor Crown, which narrows it down. Despite appearances, this may actually be Elizabeth I; her state visit in 1561, during which she immortally described Harwich as “a pretty town, and wants nothing“, was one of the major events in Harwich history, plus one article detailing the build suggests there were to be kings and queens represented, which would not be the case otherwise. The hairstyle and facial structure are obvious stumbling blocks here.

#3 – Said to possibly be Sir Anthony Deane,

of which much will be written in this blog over time. Not a lot to go on but very possible, due to his status, and connection with the town.

#4 – Said to possibly be Samuel Pepys.

Again, little to go on, but the similarity is there, and his significance in history is of course without question.

#5 – Said to be Christopher Jones,

which as stated earlier is not the case. No clue on who this may be.

#6 – Said to be Christopher Newport.

Like with Jones, the connection between Christopher Newport and Harwich had probably not been established by this point. Incredibly similar to the previous medallion, so you could conclude they are from about the same era, but again very little beyond that.

#7 – The second of three unknowns.

Together with the previous two, could be none or all of the likes of Francis Drake, John Hawkins, and Martin Frobisher, all famed Elizabethan mariners who will have operated out of Harwich at one point or another.

#8 – The third and final of the unknowns.

Could once again be Drake/Hawkins/Frobisher etc., or even Walter Raleigh, going by the prominent ruff.

#9 – Said to be James I,

and again judging by the crown this is very likely. James I granted Harwich a significant charter in 1604, recognising it as an official borough, with Aldermen and capital burgesses.

#10 – Said to be Henry VIII,

which is almost certain. Instrumental to maritime development, and of course incorporated Trinity House in 1514, the influence of which was great in Harwich at the time the hotel was built, and remains great to this day.

Please get in touch if you have ideas about who these ten may be, or even better, if you have an official record explaining them!

Selected Vicars of Harwich & Dovercourt: II

Following on from Part I.

  • NAME: John Roberts
  • PERIOD: 1533-abt 1536
  • DETAILS: Roberts became vicar in December 1533, but by 1537 he had moved to Ipswich.  Simple, right?  In fact, Roberts had much more to him.  It is widely believed that this John Roberts was a man in hiding by the name of Thomas Swinnerton, who used the name as one of his aliases during this period.  One of the few vicars of Harwich notable enough to have their own Wikipedia article, Swinnerton hid under a fake name to preach what at the time were considered fairly radical and heretical beliefs.  Wikipedia suggests he was on the run as the prime suspect in an abduction, but as the Swinnerton Family Society website states, he had adopted an alias “to screen himself from persecution on account of his heretical opinions.
  • NAME: Hippolitus du Chastelet de Luzancy
  • PERIOD: 1678-1702
  • DETAILS: Aside from lending himself to the joke about being the biggest name in the vicarage, de Luzancy had quite a tale to tell.  A French exile due to his beliefs, he fled to England in 1675, and officially denounced his “Romish” ways, becoming a Protestant.  In November 1678, de Luzancy obtained a grant to become a denizen of the country, and a month later he became vicar of Harwich.
  • During his time in England, de Luzancy had a number of books published, detailing various sermons and treatises, and he also kept in touch with two other “big names” of the era, Samuel Pepys and Sir Anthony Deane.  In 1689, when a combination of religion and politics kept Pepys and Deane from becoming MPs of Harwich for a third time, de Luzancy – as detailed by the late great Leonard Weaver in his book “The Harwich Story“, as well as in an above link – wrote to Pepys saying he “was very upset at the result – which showed “how we are overrun with pride, heat and faction” and stupid enough to “deprive ourselves of the greatest honour and advantage which we could ever attain to in the choice of so great and so good a man as you are””
  • NAME: George Ludgater
  • PERIOD: 1706-1706
  • DETAILS: Last time we detailed the longest-serving vicar of Harwich and Dovercourt, so this time it makes sense to have who was perhaps the shortest-serving.  Admitted in either the end of March or the beginning of May, depending on the source, Ludgater’s first major act as vicar was to die, being buried on August 1 1706.

Genesis of the Deanes of Harwich

In the early 17th century, a humble labourer and his wife settled in Harwich, beginning a dynasty that would grow in the town for over 200 years, and lend itself to many senior positions, such as mayors, Aldermen, naval dignitaries, and more.

The first we hear of this married couple is in 1622, when on August 12 (Old Style dates) a baptism is recorded, in the parish registers of St Nicholas, of George Deane, son of “Anthonie Deane Labourer & of Lidah his wife”.

From the evidence within those registers, we know that Anthony Deane married a Lidia, and had a son Anthony, before they all moved to Harwich, but it remains unknown where and when their son was born, where they were married, or even what Lidia’s maiden name might have been.

What is known is that they had two more sons together – besides Anthony and George, there was William, baptised June 23 1625, and Walter, baptised February 11 1629. All four survived to adulthood and got married, a large reason why and how the Deanes became such a presence in Harwich.

After Lidia’s death, Anthony married a woman named Dorothy. Neither the burial nor the second marriage are recorded in Harwich’s registers, but their son John is, baptised on June 29 1634. They also had a daughter Dorothy, whose baptism is unknown, but was buried on August 24 1638.

A bit of mystery pops up soon after. John lived six short years before being buried on September 26 1640, but the burial record states he was the son of Anthony and “Edde“. Who was Edde? It is possible this was “Edith“, a third wife of Anthony, but once again if so there are no accompanying burial or marriage records that back this up.

Regardless, no further children are recorded, and in December 1647 we find a burial record for “Anthonius Deane senex et oper'”, in other words Anthony Deane senior, labourer. By the time of his death the third generation of Anthony Deanes had already been born, his son having an Anthony of his own, baptised September 29 1644.

All records sourced from images taken from the parish register at St Nicholas, Harwich, hosted by the Essex Record Office: http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/Result_Details.aspx?ID=31933