Dean Family Trees - Introductory Notes


1 - Information Sources & Acknowledgements

2 - Abbreviations Used & General Notes 

3 - Topography

1 - Information Sources & Acknowledgements

  • The starting point was a tree compiled by A L Surl in the early 1980’s which I circulated within the family during 1984 for updating. Aunt Annie Dean of Cambridge (1899-1985) was an invaluable help with this, both by adding a previous generation (8) and details of some of her cousins. Thanks to the Internet and Wyn Taylor’s address book, huge strides have been made in more recent times.

  • Firstly distant cousin Ruth Selman has generously posted her family tree in wonderful detail on and this enabled swift progress back through seven generations from (8) in the late 1800’s to almost 1600. The latter has been used as generation 1 as yet further progress backwards is unlikely. Ruth’s common ancestor is (4.4) Henry Dean (b1716), she then being descended from Thomas (5.2) and Mary (5.2.4), and virtually all the pre 1840 information comes courtesy of her website - her own sources are shown as necessary. Some in-filling was then possible using the 1881 census transcription published on CD by the Mormon Church and, more recently, some 1841 data has been found on the Cambridgeshire Family History Society’s excellent website.

  • Thanks again to the Internet, a real ‘turn up for the books’ was Peggy Day who lived in Quy virtually all her life. Peggy, who sadly died in June 2007, was an accomplished author on Quy’s history and was an immense help by providing Dean census details for Quy for 1841 through to 1901 as well as parish register entries. In addition, she remembered Annie and had other family recollections which have added immensely to the post 1900 picture. Fortunately her books are still available in Quy and can be referenced in the Public Library in Cambridge.

  • The index to the Cambridgeshire register of births, marriages and deaths on Cambridge CC’s website (called "Camdex") has also been very helpful, particularly for post 1901 events. This index just lists the year of an event plus the person’s name (and generally then only the first Christian name) so there are no location details shown nor, for births, parent details. However, marriages generally do now show the spouse’s surname so, provided that complimentary entries occur in the same year, this has been taken as good evidence of a marriage in that year. Absence of death records for a person does not necessarily mean that a person moved away from the Cambridgeshire area as not all death records have yet been computer indexed.

  • Thanks to Google indexing these pages, contact has subsequently been made with more family members during 2006 and profuse thanks are due to them - Rosemary Wighton in particular - for filling in a lot more gaps. 

  • For brevity in the notes, Peggy Day is abbreviated to 'PD' and Rosemary Wighton to 'RW'


2 - General Notes & Abbreviations

  • Paragraph numbers are the generation reference numbers from family trees (starting with 0 for the earliest person traced, a Dean back in the late 1500’s) followed by sub-paragraphs in chronological sequence of birth.

  • Abbreviations ‘b’, ‘m’, ‘d’ and ‘bap’ have been used for birth, marriage, death and baptism.   ‘c’ denotes circa while > and < have been used to denote after or before the quoted date as a reference to them at that time has been located. 

  • Marriages generally took place in the bride’s home town or village (rather than where the couple settled) and, particularly in rural communities, it is not uncommon for the first child also to be baptised there as new mothers often stayed with their mother during and after giving birth.

  • Early parish registers (at least pre-1837) were compiled on a ‘church year’ basis which if I recall correctly was from the ‘Quarter Day’ in March to that in March the following year (so not dissimilar in principle to our current tax year). Events in Jan-March thus appear in the registers under the heading of the previous year so it is very easy when transcribing register entries to record the wrong year. Some transcriptions quote both possible years eg 1750/1 but where the latter is the more likely due to other related events (eg would mean two children born within less than 9 nine months of one another), this has been changed and is denoted by an asterisk (*).

  • Compulsory Birth, Marriage and Death registration commenced in 1837. To speed searching for a particular event, indexes were created for each type covering a quarter of a year, the March quarter covering events in Jan, Feb and Mar and so on. These Indexes show only very limited information but they were available for free access at Somerset House then St Catherine's House in London. Many, but by no means all, have since been transcribed into databases which can be viewed on the Internet. As such they are a valuable resource but

    • Actual date of the event is not given so info from this source is shown as 'Mar qtr' or 'Mar 1/4' denoting that the event took place in Jan, Feb or Mar of that year.

    • Until the early 20th century, marriage indexes did not show the name of the spouse. Where other information (eg census) hasn't yet been found to establish a Christian name, all that can be deduced is that it was someone on the same page of the original register. Normally this gives a choice of two (but it can be more) hence showing these as 'xxx or yyy'.

  • As few people could read or write in bygone times, name spellings are a question of interpretation by the vicar or curate who compiled the register - hence Pechy and Pechey. Instances have been found in another family context of a vicar who recorded parents’ Christian names on baptisms as those by which they were commonly known in the village but, when he was on holiday, a visiting curate recorded proper names. Siblings thus appeared to have completely different parents ! The use of ‘popular’ names - often second Christian names - seems to have been quite widespread in the Dean family, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Where Birth, Marriage & Death indexes generally only record the ‘proper’ first Christian name, this has inhibited tracing some people.

  • Census information should be taken as a good guide but it is not infallible. Apart from possible transcription errors when records were being computerised, the data was largely verbal to the enumerator by whoever answered the door to him at the time so depends very much upon their own interpretation of names and places. Hence the one for Stow cum Quy spells George as ‘Gorge’ throughout the area and, seeing as he probably knew where they all lived anyway, fails to record their location in the village (with the exception of one member of the Hancock family who lived in the ‘engin shed’ (sic)). The person answering the enumerator’s questions may also have had a fallible memory or not be fully au fait with their spouse’s or servants’ origins or even exact age. This was wonderfully demonstrated, again in a different family context, by the marked differences between 1881 and 1891 censuses according to who answered the door! Although the first of the 10-yearly censuses was in 1801, the early ones are of limited value unless land was owned. The first ‘real’ census was in 1841 but a confusing factor here is that the ages for adults were rounded to the nearest five years. Under the 100-year confidentiality rules, the latest available is 1911.

Photo by Gordon Flanagan - Heritage Collectors Cards

3 - Topography

  • Linton, Balsham, West Wratting and Weston Colville mentioned in the text are adjacent villages a mile or two apart on what is now the B1052 Saffron Walden to Newmarket Road which runs SW to NE some 10-11 miles SE of Cambridge. Westley Waterless is approx 3m north of Weston Colville just off this road. Withersfield (now in Essex) is approx 10m SE of Balsham at least for the first couple of centuries, all the events occur in a very localised area.

  • For the almost 150 years from the late 1780’s, the focus shifts to Quy, some 8 miles north west of Balsham. More correctly Stow-cum-Quy (= Stow with Quy), it is an amalgam of two small settlements on the borders of the fens on the north side of the Cambridge to Newmarket road a little over 4 miles from the centre of Cambridge. Fen Ditton, Lode, Swaffam Prior, Little & Great Wilbraham, Fulbourn and Teversham form a clockwise ring around Quy, none more than 5-6 miles distant. In Quy itself, the 1841 census lists 10 direct family members and this had exactly doubled by 1851 but the following 50 years show a gradual decline back down to 11 in 1901 then just 7 in 1911.

  • The Dean name gradually disappeared from Quy during the first part of the 20th century but a line of  ex-Quy male Deans has been found in Ely and there may well still be descendents from the (more numerous) female side of the family still living in the village.   

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Last updated 15th May 2020