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