Captain Samuel Tavenor

Samuel Tavenor (sometimes spelt Taverner) was born at Rumford in Essex in 1621, the son of Samuel (or Samuell) and Elizabeth Tavernor. He was a soldier in the Civil War, fighting on the Parliamentary side, and was made Captain of a troop of horse in 1643. Oliver Cromwell appointed him Governor of Deal Castle in 1653, and he held that post until the restoration of Charles II in 1660. (For some of the period he appears to have been deputy Governor under Colonel Rich.) After his military career ended, he became a grocer in Dover.

Samuel Tavenor married his first wife Ann Gibbes, the daughter of Richard Gibbes, in Deale (probably in St Leonard's church) on 13 November 1649. They had at least eleven children (Holyoake says thirteen), and seven of them were born in Deal Castle. Ann died on 4 Jan 1665/6 and, according to her daughter's diary, was buried

"the sixth day of the same month being Saturday in Deale Church [St Leonard's] over against Deale Castle pew [on the south side ?] in the ally by her 3 children Thomas, Elizabeth and Benjamin".
(Holyoake says that Ann was buried in the churchyard, but Priscilla's Diary indicates that she was buried inside the church.) Another child of Samuel and Ann was James Tavenor (1661-1666), who
"died the fourth of November and was buried in Deale Church [St Leonard's] yard near the wall on the South side right against Deale Castle pew being the first day of the week and he was aged 5 years 7 months and 15 days. He died of the pestilence in the year 1666."
The tombstone of James Tavenor is still visible (as at May 2002) about two metres from St Leonard's church in Deal, on the south side. The inscription reads:
Here lyeth the body of James
the Son of Samuel and Anna
Tavenor who departed this life
ye 4th of Novem 1666 Aged 6 years
Also the bodyes of James and Anna
son and daughter of John and
Mary Tavenor. James departed this
life the 6th of March 1636 and
Anna the 13th of July 1636. Both
died in thear infancy.
It would appear that James died of the plague in 1666 and was buried in the same grave as two relatives who had died in infancy thirty years earlier.

Samuel Tavenor married his second wife Susanna Harison of Dover in Canterbury on 14 June 1666. This marriage was childless.

Edward Prescott, a local farmer, was leader of the General Baptist sect at Dover. According to an old tradition, it was after hearing Edward Prescott preaching that Samuel Tavenor became a Baptist. He was baptised in the river Delf at Sandwich in April 1663, and became an ardent preacher. His religious convictions resulted in his persecution and on one occasion (in 1670) he was confined in the dungeon of Dover Castle.

Tavenor was ordained an elder of the Dover Baptists in 1681. The General Baptist Chapel on the east side of the High Street at Deal was built around 1681 under Tavernor's direction.

In 1682 Tavernor's enemies came with a false warrant and seized the goods and furniture from his shop. His daughter Priscilla describes the events in her diary:

After my father had beene about a year and a halfe under great persicution and truble for not conforming to the worshipe of the nation: and had been often hauled out of the meeting (some times while he was Preaching and Praying) and had before the magistrates still bearing a testimony for the truth: at last when his enemies had warrants to take his person and comitt to prison so that he saw no way how he could serve the Lord publiquely any longer there for the edifying of his people: the meetings being still Disturbed by them: october:31:1682: he went to London that he might enjoy more liberty for himself: and bee more helpful to the people of god where he continued during the persicution: improving the talent which god had given him for preaching as publickly as might bee there among god's people. two Days after he left his habitation at Dover being November:21: 1682 his persicutors came with a false warrant of ...[section missing]... goods and so many of the household goods as they thought worth taking away and till themselves confessed that they had so much they know not what to doo with it or where to bistow it, then they left the empty shope and house where my mother and I continued till about the later end of the March following ...

After the accession of William and Mary, Tavernor was able to return to Dover, and in April 1692 he obtained a license to use part of his house in Market Lane for public worship.

Tavernor gave some of his land in Dover for burials, and this area was known as The Old Baptists' Burying Ground or Tavenor's Garden. Samuel Tavenor died in 1696 and was buried in Tavenor's Garden. Many other members of the Tavenor family, including Samuel's second wife Susanna and his daughter Priscilla, were also buried there. Unfortunately, road construction in the late 20th century destroyed this burial ground, but some pictures of it exist.

According to Holyoake, the inscription on Samuel Tavenor's tomb used to read:

Enclosed within a valient Captain lies,
Holy and humble, pious, grave and wise,
A Gospel pastor, faithful to his trust,
Courageous for his God, here lies in dust,
Expecting to be raised with the just.
The following is an excerpt from an elegy written at the time of his death (quoted by Laker):
With courage bold, at one and twenty years
Of age, he in the bloody field appears,
To vindicate what he then understood
To be God's cause, and for his country's good;
And in this service full seven years he stayed;
His sword as captain of a troop he swayed,
And was with conquest crown'd successively;
Where're he fought he gained the victory.
A man of war, and yet a man of peace,
Who fought on purpose that the wars might cease,
His parts and courage so conspicuous were,
That of Deal Castle he was Governor.

The Tavenor, Redding, Peirce and Brent families

The connections between these families are given in Priscilla Tavenor's diary. Briefly, Priscilla Tavenor (1654-1723) married James Redding in 1691. Their daughter Susanna Redding (1693-1731) married Sampson Peirce. Their son Redding Peirce (1730-1804) married Sarah Warner in 1757. Their son Sampson Peirce married his cousin Priscilla Peirce (1762-1848) in 1786. Their daughter Jane Peirce (1796-1832) married William Brent (1799-1869?) in 1821. Their son was Bernard Peirce Brent (1822-1867).


Priscilla Tavenor, Diary, started 1678.
John Laker, History of Deal, Deal, 1917.
Gregory Holyoake, Deal: Sad Smuggling Town, S B Publications, Seaford, East Sussex, 2001.

Return to Richard Brent's index page