Show ContentsDene History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Dene first arose amongst the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from their having lived in an area where there was a valley. The place-name is derived from the Old English word denu, when translated means valley. This Old English word has also given rise to other local names such as West Dean in Sussex, Deane in Hampshire and Dean in Essex. [1]

"Atte Dene is the common form in old times, implying residence at such a place. There are, however, eighteen parishes or places called Dean in the Gazetteer of England, and Dene occurs in Domesday Book as a personal appellation." [2] Alternatively, the name could have been from one who holds the office as in "the dean." [3]

Another source claims the name could have been Norman in origin as two listings in the Latin form of the name were found in the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae in 1180-1195: William and Godfrey Decanus of Normandy. [4]

Early Origins of the Dene family

The surname Dene was first found in Sussex where the first record was of Ralph Dene holding manor and estates in that shire. [5]

"This name has two principal areas of distribution, one in Cheshire, Staffordshire, and in their vicinity, the other in the south of England, especially in Wiltshire and in the counties adjacent. There are numerous parishes of the name in the south of England, a circumstance that explains the prevalence of the name in that region." [6]

By the time of the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273, the name was scattered perhaps eluding to the aforementioned occupational nature of the name: Thomas dela Dene, Hertfordshire; Jacob de la Dene, Kent; and Robert le Deen, Cambridgeshire. [3]

In northern England, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Johanna del Dene; Willelmus del Dene; and Johannes de Denne as all holding lands there at that time. [3]

William Dene (fl. 1350), was an early English chronicler and probably author of a work preserved in the Cotton Library in the British Museum containing a record of the history of Rochester, 'Annales Roffenses,' from 1314 to 1358. "A William Dene who is mentioned as archdeacon of Rochester at various dates between 1323 and 1338 is no doubt to be distinguished from the chronicler, though probably related to him." [7]

Early History of the Dene family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dene research. Another 147 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1350, 1400, 1588, 1628, 1899, 1440, 1503, 1491, 1496, 1501, 1503, 1500, 1502, 1610, 1653, 1638, 1721, 1676, 1708, 1588, 1582, 1585, 1588 and are included under the topic Early Dene History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dene Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Dene has appeared include Dean, Deane, Dene, Deans, Deanes, Denes, Adeane and others.

Early Notables of the Dene family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Henry Deane (c.1440-1503), Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1491 to 1496, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1501 to 1503 and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal from 1500 to 1502; Richard Deane (1610-1653), a British naval general and major general for Cromwell; Sir Anthony Deane (1638-1721), English politician, naval architect, Master Shipwright and commercial shipbuilder, Mayor of Harwich, Essex in 1676; and Deane, made Baron Muskerry of Ireland by Queen Anne in 1708. William Deane (d. 1588), was an English Catholic divine, educated in the English college at Rheims, and after...
Another 95 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dene Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Dene family to Ireland

Some of the Dene family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 86 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Dene migration to the United States +

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Dene arrived in North America very early:

Dene Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Tho Dene, aged 17, who arrived in Bermuda in 1635 [8]
Dene Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Susan Dene, aged 18, who arrived in New Castle or Philadelphia in 1803 [8]
  • Walter M. Dene, aged 19, who settled in America from London, in 1897
Dene Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Marceline Dene, who landed in America, in 1904
  • Connie Dene, aged 31, who landed in America from London, in 1906
  • Monckton Dene, aged 47, who settled in America, in 1910
  • Arundel C. Dene, aged 25, who immigrated to America from St. Leonards, England, in 1911
  • Thomas Dene, aged 26, who immigrated to the United States from Thurles, Ireland, in 1915
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Dene migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [9]
  • Mr. Francis Dene, (b. 1582), aged 52, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Hopewell" arriving in Barbados on 17th February 1634 [8]
Dene Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Francis Dene, aged 21, who landed in Barbados in 1634 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Dene (post 1700) +

  • Dorothy Dene (1859-1899), born Ada Alice Pullen, English stage actress and artist's model for the painter Lord Leighton
  • Graham Dene (b. 1949), British radio personality
  • Terry Dene (b. 1938), born Terence Williams, British pop singer popular in the late 1950s
  • Ricky Dene Gervais (b. 1961), British seven-time BAFTA, two-time Emmy Award and three-time Golden Globe winning, comedian, actor, director and producer
  • Brigadier-General Jesmond Dene Balmer (1895-1979), American Commanding General Artillery XXI Corps, North-West Europe (1944-1945) [10]
  • Edmund Dene Morel (1873-1924), Franco-British journalist and politician
  • Dene O'Kane (b. 1963), New Zealand professional snooker player
  • Dene Cropper (b. 1983), former professional footballer
  • Dene O. Hester, American politician, Mayor of Harrison, Arkansas, 1959 [11]

Halifax Explosion


The Dene Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Forti et fideli nihil difficile
Motto Translation: To the brave and faithful man nothing is difficult.


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  7. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  8. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  9. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  10. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 6) Jesmond Balmer. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Balmer/Jesmond_Dene/USA.html
  11. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  12. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance


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