Wilford: Captain John Deane

Wilford: Captain John Deane

CAPTAIN JOHN DEANE was born in Nottingham in 1679, about the time that Titus Oates invented the Popish Plot, and he died in his eighty-second year at Wilford in the year 1761. His long life was crammed full of adventure and excitement, and it has been turned into a story book by Mr. W H. G. Kingston.

For some extraordinary reason Deane, when a boy, desired to be a butcher, and although his family connections were not of the class from which that profession was usually recruited, his wishes were gratified, and he was duly apprenticed to a butcher and drover, he fell into bad company, and took to poaching and deer-stealing, a very serious matter in those days, and to escape the consequences of his acts he went to sea. The shipman’s trade seemed to suit him, and he prospered so much that he rose to the rank of captain, and in that capacity took part in the capture of Gibraltar in 1704.

When he was about 30 years of age he, with the assistance of his father and brother, purchased a small galley which he called " The Nottingham," but it was wrecked and he and the crew were reduced to dreadful extremes before they were rescued from a desert island and brought back to England.

In 1714 he took service with the Tzar of Muscovy, and was given command of a ship of war. He prospered in this service, but after seven years or so he transferred his activities to Flanders where , during the seventeen years following 1721, he acted as British Consul to the port of Ostend and the adjoining districts.

About 1740 he returned to England, and settling in Wilford he built the well-known houses at the entrance to the village, which still bear his name. It is an interesting reflection that these houses were built at about the date that the Methodists first appeared in London .

He resided in Wilford for a score or so of years, and one would have thought that amidst such tranquil surroundings his adventures would have ended. But it was not so, for walking one day in a field adjoining his house he was violently assaulted and robbed, for which crime his assailant in due course was hanged.

Captain John Deane is buried in Wilford Churchyard, and his tomb should be more of a place of pilgrimage than it is for those who still feel the call for adventure singing in their ears.