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.