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Anthony Deane, by Godfrey Kneller, 1690

Sir Anthony Deane (c.1638–1721) was a 17th-century mayor of Harwich, naval architect, Master Shipwright and commercial shipbuilder, and Member of Parliament.

Early life

Deane was born in Harwich in around 1638, the eldest son of master mariner Anthony Deane. At an early age he was apprenticed to master shipwright Christopher Pett at Woolwich Dockyard, and was appointed as the Dockyard's assistant shipwright in 1660.

Naval career

[Deane is] "a very able man, and able to do the King's service ... [I] will commend his work with skill and vie with others, especially the Petts"
— Samuel Pepys' Diary, 18 August 1662[1]

In August 1662 Deane met Samuel Pepys, the Clerk of the Acts and member of the Navy Board. Pepys was impressed with Deane's ability and saw in him a potential rival for Christopher Pett, against whom Pepys held a political grudge. On Pepys' recommendation the Navy Board reopened the derelict Harwich Dockyard in October 1664 and appointed Deane as its master shipwright, elevating him from being Pett's assistant to his nominal equal. For Deane, the promotion meant that he would have a free hand in designing and constructing naval vessels, albeit at a smaller dockyard than the great Navy establishments of Portsmouth, Plymouth or Deptford.[1]

Deane was one of the earliest to apply scientific principles to the building of naval vessels, and between 1666 and 1675 he designed and built 25 vessels for the Royal Navy, including Rupert, Francis, Roebuck, Resolution, Swiftsure, and Harwich.

Harwich Dockyard was closed in 1668, following the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and Deane was appointed Master Shipwright at Portsmouth Dockyard. In 1670 he became the first English shipwright to use iron as a substantial construction component in a Royal Navy vessel, with U-shaped iron bars to secure the planking of HMS Royal James relative to the internal beams within her hull. His patron Pepys strongly disapproved of this innovation and the matter was ultimately referred to the King, Charles II, who endorsed Deane's actions. However, the innovation was not repeated in other Royal Navy vessels until adoption of the 1719 Establishment nearly fifty years later.[2]

In 1672 Deane was promoted to become Commissioner at Portsmouth, thus becoming a member of the Navy Board. No longer responsible for shipbuilding at Portsmouth, he still was able to build several ships as a private contractor, mainly at Harwich but also at Rotherhithe.


In 1673 he was knighted and appointed Controller of the Victualling Accounts. In the same year, as an alderman of Harwich, he funded the construction of a new gaol and guildhall in the town.[3] He was also an alderman of the City of London.[4] He became Mayor of Harwich in 1676, and he and his patron Samuel Pepys were the MPs for Harwich in Charles II's third parliament (which sat from 6 March 1678 and formed part of the Cavalier Parliament). They were returned for the 1679 Parliament despite both being accused of leaking naval intelligence to France, and being on 9 July 1679 brought before the King's Bench at Westminster on a charge of treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London, but bailed to appear for trial at a later date. The charges were not pressed, and on 14 February 1680 the pair were released from their bail. For the next few years Deane continued his successful career as a private shipbuilder.

He and Pepys were also MPs for Harwich in James II's first parliament from 19 May 1685.

His written work includes a Doctrine for Naval Architecture, published in 1670, now seen as one of the most important texts in the history of naval architecture. He was also a mentor of Peter the Great during his Grand Embassy.[5]

He married twice; firstly to Ann Prowse, a widow who bore him four sons and a daughter and secondly to Christian, the widow of Sir John Dawes who bore him a son and a daughter.


  1. ^ a b "Deane, Sir Anthony (c.1638–1720?)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7386.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Goodwin, Peter (1998). "The Influence of Iron in Ship Construction: 1660 to 1830". The Mariner's Mirror. Portsmouth, United Kingdom: Society for Nautical Research. 84 (1): 26–27. doi:10.1080/00253359.1998.10656674. 
  3. ^ Coller, Duffield William (1861) The People's History of Essex. Google Books. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  4. ^ Carr, Cecil Thomas (ed.) (1970) Select Charters of Trading Companies, A.D. 1530–1707. Google Books. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  5. ^ Hoving, A.J. (1994) Nicolaes Witsens Scheeps-Bouw-Konst Open Gestelt, p. 28.

Further reading

  • Lavery, Brian, ed. (1981). Deane's Doctrine of Naval Architecture, 1670. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-180-7. 

External links

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Capel Luckyn
Thomas King
Member of Parliament for Harwich
With: Samuel Pepys
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Middleton
Sir Philip Parker, Bt
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Middleton
Sir Philip Parker, Bt
Member of Parliament for Harwich
With: Samuel Pepys
Succeeded by
John Eldred
Sir Thomas Middleton

7 Annotations

Terry F.  •  Link

"Anthony Deane, [31.7.1662] Assistant-Shipwright at Woolich, was to become a distinguished naval architect and a close friend of Pepys." L&M: iii.151.n.1.

Terry F.  •  Link

From Assistant-Shipwright under Christopher Pett at Woolwich in 1662, "Anthony Deane rose to become Master-Shipwright (Portsmouth) in 1668, and Navy Commissioner and knight in 1675....The 30 ships he built under the act of 1677 Pepys regarded as the best in the world: Naval Minutes, p. 227." L&M, iii.170.n.1.

A short biography of Sir Anthony Deane

Portrait of Sir Anthony Deane

Pauline  •  Link

from L&M Companion
(?1638-1721). Shipwright and friend. Charles II and James II, as well as Pepys, looked on him as the most skilful designer of his day. (Even Louis XIV engaged him to design two of his yachts.) Pepys's admiration, clear from the diary, is even clearer in their correspondence (virtually continuous from the '60s until Pepys's death) and in Pepys's 'Naval Minutes'. Appointed the assistant at Woolwich in 1660, he became Master-Shipwright at Harwich (his native town) in 1664, and at Portsmouth in 1668. He was Navy Commissioner at Portsmouth 1672-5, and a member of the Navy Board 1675-80, and was Pepy's principal ally both in the shipbuilding programme of 1677-8 and in the work of the Special Commission of 1686-8. Like Pepys, he fell under the unjust suspicion during the Popish Plot scare of selling naval secrets to France, and was briefly imprisoned with him in 1679. In June 1680 both were discharged before being brought to trial. In two parliaments--those of 1679 and 1685-7--he shared the representaton of Harwich with Pepys. He was a pall bearer at Pepys's funeral.

Pepys kept in his libary a portrait drawing of Deane, as well as several volumes of his manuscript calculations and drawing, including the 'Doctrine of Naval Architecture' written at Pepys's request in 1670.

[He was about five years younger than Sam]

picus  •  Link

shows Sam how to use a sliding ruler similar to Sam's purchase passed. [5 /5/63]

Bill  •  Link

Anthony Deane, eldest son of Anthony Deane, mariner of Harwich, Essex, was born about 1638, celebrated as a shipbuilder. He was appointed to Woolwich dockyard at the Restoration, and was subsequently master shipwright at Harwich in 1664, and at Portsmouth in 1668. In 1672 he was Commissioner of the Navy at Portsmouth, and in 1675 Comptroller of the Victualling, and was knighted about that time. He was M.P. for Shoreham in 1678, and for Harwich in 1679 and 1685 (with Pepys), and elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1681. He was committed to the Tower with Pepys in 1679, and discharged in the following year. He died in Charterhouse Square in 1721 (see Duckett's "Naval Commissioners," 1889, p.71).
---Wheatley, 1899.

Bill  •  Link

DEANE, Sir ANTHONY (1638?-1721), shipbuilder; friend of Pepys; master shipwright at Harwich, 1664; mayor of Harwich, 1676 and 1682; commissioner of navy, 1675; knighted; built yachts for Louis XIV, 1675; M.P., New Shoreham, 1678, Harwich, 1679 and 1685; inventor of 'Punchinello' cannon; F.R.S.; 1681.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

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