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: