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:

Selected Vicars of Harwich & Dovercourt

An occasional series, looking at vicars throughout the history of Harwich (the parish being known as Dovercourt-cum-Harwich or Harwich-cum-Dovercourt until being split in 1871).

  • NAME: Thomas Drax
  • PERIOD: 1601*-1619
  • DETAILS: Drax was appointed vicar of Dovercourt-cum-Harwich in 1601, but according to the Biographical Register of Christ’s College, Cambridge, he refused to move to the area due to a dislike of the east coast (whether due to the scenery or the invading vessels, we do not know), so he stayed in the Midlands and left the care of the parish in the hands of Hugh Branham, who was already effectively the surrogate vicar.  Upon Branham’s death in 1615, Drax finally decided to move to Harwich, staying until his own death and burial in January 1619.
  • Drax is, however, best known for his writing.  He had several publications printed in the latter years of his life, the most significant being his final work – “Ten Counter-Demands Propounded to Those of the Separation” – which was written a few short years before the sailing of the Mayflower.  Within, he sarcastically suggests that Separatists, whom he disapproved of, should “remove into Virginia, and make a plantation there, in hope to convert infidels to Christianity”.  Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t far off.
  • NAME: Thomas Gibson
  • PERIOD: 1738-1779
  • DETAILS: Gibson holds the distinction of being the longest-serving vicar of Harwich and Dovercourt, being formally instituted in April 1738, and remaining there until his death in December 1779, a near-42-year period.  Previously, he was the clerk at nearby Ramsey; his sons born there, Thomas and John, were later admitted to the Royal Grammar School in Colchester.
  • NAME: Richard Bull
  • PERIOD: 1852-1871
  • DETAILS: Bull was officially the final joint vicar of Harwich and Dovercourt.  A curate of the parish for many years, he was appointed as the replacement for his father, Samuel Nevill Bull, whose health was failing.  When Bull resigned in 1871, again due to ill health, the parishes of Harwich St Nicholas and Dovercourt All Saints were split into two, William J. Bettison taking the former, while Thomas O. Reay took the latter.  From this point they have remained separate.

Sir Anthony Deane: A Brief Harwich Primer

A lot will be written up on here, in time, about various Deane families and their connections to Harwich, but I will start with a short fact-check about the most famous Harwich Deane of them all, Sir Anthony Deane.

Firstly, and most importantly, Sir Anthony was not born in Harwich; this is a commonly-held belief not just because of his connection to the town, but because of the “original” family of Deanes who moved to Harwich, the head being an Anthony himself.  In fact, the Deanes of Harwich were not (directly) related to Sir Anthony.  The details of this family will appear on this blog in due course.

So, how far does his Harwich connection go?  It began in 1664, when before he held any title, Anthony Deane was appointed master shipwright for the town, largely (it is said) due to the influence of celebrated diarist Samuel Pepys, who saw a lot in Deane, and wished to nurture his prodigious shipbuilding talents.  By the time he left in 1668, he was Captain Anthony Deane, charged with maintaining a band of men in Harwich yard to protect the area.

By the early 1670s, he was known as Commissioner Deane, a commissioner of the navy, and despite now living in Portsmouth, he still had plenty to do with Harwich, offering bountiful donations for the new guild hall, and being named as one of the Aldermen.

Deane was knighted in 1675, and by the end of the year he was nominated mayor of Harwich.  In the following decade, he would be named mayor again, and he would also serve twice as an MP for the town, both times alongside Pepys.

By the end of the century, Sir Anthony appears to have drifted away from Harwich, settling into life in his final home at London, where he was to die in June 1721.  His influence in the town lived on through the following centuries, most notably through the Sir Anthony Deane School in the mid-20th century

What’s In A Name?

The word “Harwicensis” is simply Latin for “[of] Harwich”. The word would occassionally be used as, back in the day, Latin was still a common language, and would regularly be used instead of – and alongside – English.

Many early parish registers used both Latin and English, where there would be a period of one followed by a period of the other. Sometimes it would be because a different clerk took over record-keeping duties, other times the same clerk would switch between the two, perhaps depending on outside factors of the time.

Harwich was no different. In 1608, John Cutting, the first appointed Steward of the Borough of Harwich (as chosen in the Royal Charter of King James I in 1604) died, and his burial record describes him as “Burgi Harwicensis Senescallus”, which translates to “Steward of the Borough of Harwich”.

Another common variant of the time was “Herewici”, as was written in the aforesaid Charter. This was back before standardised spellings, so it was the Latinised version of “Herewich”, as Harwich was commonly spelt in Medieval times.

An Intro

Welcome to Harwicensis, a history blog dedicated to delving into the history of the maritime town of Harwich, in Essex, and uncovering all sorts of facts and information that is not necessarily readily available elsewhere.

In short, it’s a blog where I’ll occasionally throw up various things I find out about when doing research on Harwich.  It will hopefully become a resource for people to use on their Google travels!