Dean Surname Genealogy

surname is locational in origin, describing someone who lived in a dene or “valley.” Dene was
recorded in various places in the
1086 Domesday Book. It is generally
rendered today as Dean. The surname
progression has been from Dene (sometimes atte Dene) to Deane and from Deane to Dean.
The Deane spelling has persisted mainly in

Dean Resources on

Dean Ancestry

earliest Dean seems to have been Robert de Dene, a “pincema” or
official in
charge of the wine and beverage to King Edward the Confessor. His descendants, known as Denn or Denne, were landowners in Kent
and Sussex. Their line seems to have
died out by the 1600’s.

West Country.
early Deans came from the west country and in particular from
Gloucestershire. Sir William de Dene
who lived at St. Briavels in the early 14th century was the first of
the family
of Dene of Dene in the Forest of Dean. Later
numbers probably included:

  • Henry
    Dene, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and
    Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VII.
  • Sir
    Richard Deane, the Lord Mayor of
    London in 1628
  • and
    the regicide and Sea
    General Richard Deane who died in a fight with the Dutch fleet in 1653.

There were also Deanes in and around Taunton
in Somerset. Among their numbers were
Deane, the ancestor of the Deanes in Limerick, and John and Walter
Deane, early
emigrants to Taunton, Massachusetts.
Other Deanes were to be found in the Brent Knoll area of
Somerset. The Deanes of Oxenwood in Wiltshire came
originally from NW Hampshire.

Elsewhere. Some of the early
Dean sightings may have
been in SE and SW England. But the Dean
name spread across England. By the 19th
century in fact larger numbers were in the northwest, from Staffordshire through Cheshire to Lancashire:

  • John
    Deane was
    born of yeoman stock near Northwich in Cheshire around the year 1495. He spent most of his working life in London,
    rector at Smithfield, but returned in 1557 to found Witton Grammar
    School. It functions today as Sir John
  • one
    Dean family in Audley, Staffordshire dates back to 1604.
    Nathaniel Dean, a surgeon, was born at
    Eccleshall in Staffordshire in 1762 and died at his Brook
    home there in 1823.
  • while the ancient parish of Deane lay within the
    present boundaries of Salford
    in Lancashire and that town had the largest number of Deans in England
    in the 1881 census.

Ireland. Matthew Deane from Somerset
came to Ireland
with Cromwell in 1649 and stayed. He was
Sheriff of Cork in 1664 and made his home at Dromore.
In 1775 his descendant Sir Robert Deane,
created Baron Muskerry, secured through marriage Springfield castle in

Deane family in Cork was
notable in
Cork for their eminence as architects and for their contribution to the
cultural life of the city. The father of this brood was Alexander
Deane, a
builder. His sons Thomas, Alexander, and
Kearns Deane all became architects.
Thomas was knighted for his work in 1830, as was his son Thomas
and his
grandson Thomas.

English Deane lines in Ireland were:

  • the
    Deanes of Galway – one of the twelve
    tribes of Galway – who supposedly originated from Bristol in England
    and first
    appeared in Galway in 1438.
  • and
    the Deane family of Crumlin in Dublin, started
    in the 1650’s by Joseph Deane, nephew to the regicide Richard Deane. A later Joseph Deane of this line was Chief
    Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland in 1714.

in Donegal and Tipperary were
more likely to be of Gaelic origin, those in Ulster of Scots origin. The largest number of Deanes in Ireland,
according to Griffith’s Valuation in the mid-19th century, was in fact
in Mayo,
followed by Cork, Tipperary, and Donegal.
The Scottish Deans appeared in Antrim and Derry.

The name Den
appeared in Aberdeen and Dean in Ayrshire (where there is a Dean
Castle). But a more common surname form
came to be
Deans, meaning instead “son or servant of the dean.”
It seemed to have appeared first on the
Scottish Borders and then spread across the Lowlands and to Aberdeen. Some Deans migrated to Ulster

. The spelling in America
tended initially to
be Deane. Early New England arrivals

  • Stephen Deane who came to Plymouth on the Fortune
    in 1621. He built
    the first corn mill in the colony. He
    and his wife Elizabeth had three daughters, but no sons.
  • John and Walter Deane
    from Somerset who arrived in 1635 and settled in Taunton, Massachusetts. They did leave successors, mainly in
    Connecticut. Silas Deane, the merchant and
    diplomat at the time of the Revolutionary War, was a descendant.
  • while Thomas
    Deane arrived in Massachusetts from Wiltshire in 1664.
    He was a merchant in Boston but returned to
    England in 1676.

18th century Deans of New London, Connecticut were descendants of
Abraham Dains
who had arrived there in 1664 via Casco in Maine

and Scots Irish Deans came to America in the 18th century.

They included Roger
Dean who had arrived from Ulster in the 1770’s to fight on the British
side. But once in America he changed
sides and fought with the Americans.
After the War he was granted land in Kentucky and moved there. There was a
family reunion
in 1785 after his son Daniel, back in Ireland,
in search of him in America and found him.
Daniel moved to Ohio in 1804.

Another line began with Benjamin Dean who
came to Virginia around 1780 and, like Daniel, moved to Ohio. Other Irish Deans were to be found in
Allegheny county in southern Pennsylvania.
Matthew Dean lived in the Canoe valley and many of his family
massacred in an attack by Indians in 1780.
Matthew’s great grandson was Judge John Dean of Williamsburg.

Some of the Deans coming to Canada were Loyalists from America. Dean was a common name in the early 1800’s in
the border area of Canada between Niagara and Kingston.
John Dean from New Jersey came with his
family in 1801 and settled in Lincoln county, Ontario.
His sons fought on the Canadian side in the
War of 1812. Another Dean, George Dean
from Pennsylvania, was an American deserter during that war who made
his home in
York county, Ontario.

New Zealand. William and John Deans,
brothers from Ayrshire
in Scotland, were one of the first settlers in Canterbury SI, arriving
there in
1843. They became sheep farmers. William was drowned at sea in 1851. John married the next year but died at his
home at Riccarton Bush in 1854. His
widow Jane Deans remained to bring up their child, later writing the
story of
her life in Letters to My Grandchildren.

Dean Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Dean Names

Sir James Deane was an Elizabethan
merchant adventurer who traded to India, China and the Spice Islands.
Silas Deane
was an American merchant,
politician, and diplomat at the time of the Revolutionary War.
Dizzy Dean
was a baseball pitcher in the
1930’s, best known for leading the 1934 Gashouse Gang St. Louis
James Dean
was an American actor who
became a cultural
icon of the 1950’s after his performance in Rebel
Without a Cause
and his subsequent death in a car crash.
Christopher Dean
was the English ice
dancer who won a gold medal with his partner Jayne Torvill at the 1984

Select Deans Today

  • 44,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 42,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 29,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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