Select Dean Miscellany

Here are some Dean stories and accounts over the years:

From Deane to Dean

The main spelling was Deane up to and including the 17th century.  Then in the next century the “e” got taken out and the spelling became Dean.  Now Dean predominates.  The table today shows the approximate numbers of Deans and Deanes today.

Numbers (000's)

Sir Alured de Denn

Sir Alured de Denn of Denn Hill in Kent was said to have been a person of great learning.  He was a Seneschal, an official who governed of the household operations of the Priory Christ Church of Canterbury, and was the Escheater of Kent in 1234.   He was also appointed by Henry III to enforce the law on Romney Marsh, the flat expanse of land by the coast that lay between Folkestone and Dungeness.

Sir Alured had three leopard heads caboshed (i.e., three leopard "faces") on his seal

The Deanes of Oxenwood

John and Thomas Deane were the sons of John Deane who had leased the Oxenwood estate in Wiltshire sometime in the 1630’s.  The family had been a long-standing one in nearby NW Hampshire, but not apparently one of any great significance.  

John the elder had been too young to fight in the Civil War, but got drawn into a local insurrection at the time of the Protectorate.
He found himself condemned to death and was only able to obtain a reprieve at great expense.  He was released on bail in 1656 and, on a certificate of his penitence, allowed to redeem his estate.  He fared better during the Restoration and he became prominent in local affairs and an MP in 1678. He died in 1695.  His heir James sold Oxenwood in 1701.  

Thomas, his younger brother, emigrated to America in 1664 and settled in Boston.  There he succeeded so well as a merchant that he converted a younger son's portion into a large fortune.  He returned to London in 1676 a rich man

The Deane Architects of Cork

David Deane was a builder and his son Alexander, also a builder, had married Elizabeth Sharpe.  Unusually for the times Elizabeth was active in her husband’s business.  On Alexander’s sudden death in 1806 she was thus able to take over the running of the firm.  However, she had her problems.  There was a flaw in her husband’s will which prevented her from acquiring the properties that he owned in Cork city.  In the end, it required a private Act of Parliament for her to gain the leases of the properties. 

Her eldest son Thomas was at her side by this time.  He had started working at the firm in 1806 at the age of just fourteen.  In 1811 he designed his first building, the Cork Commercial Buildings on South Mall, and he was on his way.  He soon rose to public eminence.  He was mayor of Cork in 1815, 1830 and 1851, and was knighted in 1830.  

Two other sons – Alexander (known as “Sandy Bull”) and Kearns - were also architects.  Sadly both died young, from TB.

Deans in NW England in 1881

The three NW counties of Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Lancashire accounted for almost 40% of the Deans in England in the 1881 census.  The following were the main Dean numbers by town in these counties in that census.


The Dean Family Reuntion

While the Revolutionary War was raging and Roger Dean was fighting for the American cause, he had lost track of his family back in Ulster and they of him.  As partial payment for his military service, Roger received lands near Mount Sterling in Kentucky.  So he walked over the Blue Ridge and homesteaded there, eventually beginning a household with a comely postmistress named Rebecca.

Roger's son Daniel, reared fatherless in Ulster, had a growing curiosity about his father's fate.  So at age 18 and near penniless, he boldly boarded a ship bound for the port of Philadelphia.  Once there, he worked for his keep and searched high and low to locate his lost father.  He wandered through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia seeking clues.  Eventually he learned that his father was alive and living on Kentucky's frontier. Once at Mount Sterling, Daniel quickly found his errant father and learned that he and Rebecca had begun a second family.

During his travels Daniel had met Jenny Steele of Steele’ Tavern in Virginia.  They eventually married and relocated near Mount Sterling where Daniel built a mill, a house for the couple, and another for his sister and mother whom he had brought from Ireland to Kentucky in 1790.

The Deans, however, were alarmed to see the infusion of slave-owners into Kentucky.  As Covenanter Presbyterians, they abhorred the "peculiar institution" as inhumane and intolerable. Daniel therefore saved their earnings and in 1804 purchased a wilderness tract in the new free state of Ohio.  Daniel Dean and his party departed for Ohio while his father Roger remained behind in Kentucky where he died in 1815. 

The Dean Family Farm in Ohio is now a historic site on the National Register of Historic Places.  Daniel died there in 1743.  No fewer than 36 of his 110 offspring served in the Union Army during the Civil War, according to records read out at an 1880 Dean family picnic and reported in The Xenia Gazette.

James Dean's Ancestry

James Dean’s ancestry goes back to John W. Dean who was born in Mercer county, Kentucky in 1813 from parents who had probably arrived there from Virginia.  John moved to Indiana around 1840 and died at Fairmount in unfortunate circumstances in 1890.

“John Dean of Fairmount met with a peculiar accident on Saturday afternoon.  He was sitting in a chair at home when he accidentally became dizzy and fell forward to the floor.  A cut on his head and a few bruises resulted.  He was unconscious when he was picked up and remained so until Tuesday when he died.  He was a well-known man in the county.”

The line from John went to Calvin, Charles Desco and then to Winton Dean, the father of James Dean. Winton Dean was born in Fairmount like his forebears.  He was a farmer who later became a dental technician.  James grew up in Fairmount and at the age of 18 joined his father in Los Angeles where he had settled.

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