Deans in Cambridgeshire, England

A large number of Deans[1] lived just south of Cambridge in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. These Deans lived just 4 or 5 kilometers south of Cambridge, primarily in the villages of Great and Little Shelford and their neighbour, Stapleford.

The Deans were an incredibly prolific family, averaging eight children per generation.

The earliest recorded Dean, my 8th great grandfather, was John Dean b. ~1653 in Sawston, a village about 5 km SE of Great Shelford. He married Anne Farebanke at St. Benedicts, Cambridge, on September 30, 1679.  They had four children. John died 17 January, 1690 in Sawston at the relatively young age of 37.

The next generation was headed by their eldest son (and second child),  John b. 1685, who on November 11, 1711 married Mary Story. They had eight children.

The next generation was headed by William Dean b. 1719 who married Constance Tunwell. They had seven children.  One son, John Dean b. 1753, with Esther Turner, had twelve children. Five of their sons, William (1781-1847), John (1783-1851), Thomas, our branch (1788-1872),  James (1790-1870) and Stephen (1796-1883), headed large families themselves, and their forty-two children, also prolific, have produced many, many more Deans.

One family tree that I discovered had over 200 Deans dating from John Dean b. ~1653, and this tree had only followed about half the Deans.

While some of the descendants of John Dean and Esther Turner remained in and around the Great Shelford, many were scattered throughout the new world – Canada, the US and, in particular, to Australia.

Discovering the Deans in Cambridgeshire

Much of the original research comes from my second cousin, Art Evans, who distributed handwritten, family group records he collected in Stapleford in the mid-1990s.

All of this has been confirmed and extended by research on the web.

The Deans of Cambridgeshire must be one of the most documented family trees in England, most likely because of the incredibly detailed and accessible Parish Records in this part of Cambridgeshire.

The documented record traces the Dean family back to Edward I, King of England, and ultimately to William the Conqueror.

Edward I

I have discovered and connected with a dozen researchers around the world who have Deans descended from John Dean b. 1653 and Annis (Anne) Farebanke in their family trees. Some trees have over 200 Deans.

Thanks to them[2], I have records on over 200 Cambridgeshire Deans.

[1] In the 1881 census of Great Shelford, Dean was by far the most popular name – 70 Deans in the village. The next most popular name was Abbot with 26.  ..\Family\DEANS\Dean Surname in Great Shelford.doc

[2] Kind thanks (in order of my discovery) to:  John Maris,  England?; Robyn Smith, Australia; Sue Brown , New South Wales, Australia; David Taylor, England?;  Stephen Alley;  Paul and Leslie Gates, Derby UK; Eden Maher,  Newcastle,  Australia; Liane  Francis, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia; Maureen Allen, Rodborough, UK; Roz (Elbourn) Bainbridge,  Sydney, Australia; Wallace James Kirkpatrick, NSW, Australia; Kevin S. Thompson, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Margaret Richardson, Hertfordshire, UK,;  Beverley (Matthews) Callaghan, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia; Joan Hall-Hudson, Laurentians, Quebec; and Valerie Breen, Seattle, Washington.


8 Responses to Deans in Cambridgeshire, England

  1. Matthew Dean says:

    I was completing a family tree and am also from John Dean 1653. We live in Milwaukee, WI.

  2. Elizabeth Dean says:

    John Dean 1653 was my 8th great grandfather. We live in Essex in the UK. John’s great great great grandson Josiah Dean is featured in the book “Taken from Life” by J.D.Beresford with photographs by E.O. Hoppe. He moved from Great Shelford to London. His great grandson was my dad, Josiah Dean. I’m fascinated to find out about all of these Deans!

    • pdeanisland says:

      Welcome to the Cambridgeshire Dean connection, Elizabeth.

      I’m in contact with more than two dozen descendants of John Dean (b. 1653) around the world, but it is only this week that I’ve encountered two who still have the Dean surname!

      I have well over 200 descendants of John Dean in my family tree.

      I have Josiah Dean (b. 1837 in Gt. Shelford) 2nd son of Robert Dean and Ann Lord who had a son. Josiah (b. 1867 in Islington, Middlesex).

      …and the book, which I found at:, is a treasure – P.S. I found his birth date 8 Apr 1837 there. …and his amazing photo!. It will take me a few days to digest all of this

      Again, Thank You!

  3. Matthew Dean says:

    On my family tree is says John Dean 1653, then John Dean and Mary Story, followed by William Dean(1719-1763) and Constance Tunwell, followed by John Dean (1753-1832) and Esther Turner followed by William Dean(1781-1847) and Sarah Cock, followed by William Dean and Hannah Ellum, followed by Henry John Dean SR and Minnie Magerfleish followed by William Dean(1882-1928 who is my Great Grandfather. )

    • pdeanisland says:

      Yes Matthew, we are from the same line, mine branching off via William Dean (1781-1847)’s younger brother, Thomas Dean (1788-1872) . You are definitely part of Valerie Breen’s Wisconsin line!

  4. Steve King says:

    Hi, I’m descended from Joseph Dean (1815-1893) who married Eliza Dockerel (1817-1881) who had Harry Dean (born 1856) who married a Hannah Dean who was born in the States, but was a “British Subject” born in Ohio.. Does anyone have any ideas as to where her parents came from and why they were living in the States? Harry Dean and Hannah Dean were the parents of Emily Dean (born 1879) who married my Great Grandfather Herbert George King. Any replies much appreciated

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