Rev. Richard Denton

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Rev. Richard Denton

Also Known As: "The Immigrant"
Birthdate: (58)
Birthplace: Halifax, Yorkshire, England
Death: between 1659 and 1667 (54-70)
perhaps of, Hempstead, Essex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of unknown Denton and unknown Denton
Husband of Unknown Wife of Rev. Richard Denton
Father of Timothy Denton; Nathaniel Denton; Richard Denton, Jr.; Samuel Denton; Daniel Denton and 1 other

Occupation: Anglican Priest and Presbyterian Minister.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rev. Richard Denton

Reverend Richard Denton was born say 1601 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. His parents are not known with certainty: see "disputed origins" section, below.

He emigrated to America between 1630 and 1638 [7] "with a numerous family" but returned to England about 1659 [10], leaving his children behind, and died in England between then and 1667 [3, 4, 5], perhaps in Essex county, where there is a memorial to him.

summary

The first Presbyterian minister in Colonial America, [7] Rev. Denton came from the Parish of Owram, North England on the ship James c. 1633. [1, 5] SIC: probably more like 1638. The general opinion among members of the Denton family is that all of the Dentons in the United States are his descendants. [6] Notable descendants include the poet W. S. Merwin

The famous preacher Cotton Mather wrote of him: "Rev. Denton was a highly religious man with strong Presbyterian beliefs. He was a small man with only one eye, but in the pulpit he could sway a congregation like he was nine feet tall." [2]

His tombstone bears the following inscription in Latin: "Here lies the dust of Richard Denton. O'er his low peaceful grave bends the perennial cypress, fit emblem of his unfading fame. On earth his bright example, religious light, shown forth o'er multitudes. In heaven his pure rob'd spirit shines like an effulgent star." [4]

family

Married an unknown woman before 1627, who died on an unknown date after 1659. She was not the Ellyn Windebank who died before 1605. She was not the Helen Denton who married a Richard Denton in 1611 [SIC] in Wiltshire.

A Richard Denton married Maria Durden in Halifax on 21 January 1625 (Gregorian 1626). Was she the wife of Rev Denton?

Their children:

proposed list - revised

Last updated September 2017

  • Tymothie Denton, baptised 23 July 1627 at St Peter, Bolton le Moors, Lancashire as son of Richard Denton, Minister of Turton. Died: before July 28, 1631 [Source: Lancashire Online Parish Clerks Project]
  • Nathaniell Denton, baptised 9 Mar 1629 at St Peter, Bolton le Moors, Lancashire as son of Richard Denton, Minister of Turton. Died 18 Oct 1690 at Long Island, Queens, New York. Married about 1653 to Sarah Smith, daughter of William and Magdalen Smith. [Sources: Lancashire Online Parish Clerks Project; FindMyPast.com: Third Supplement To Torrey's New England Marriages Prior To 1700, Sanborn]
  • Samuel Denton, baptised 29 May, 1631 at Halifax, Yorkshire as son of Richard Denton, Minister of Coley. Died 1713/14 at Long Island, Queens, New York. Married about 1664 to Mary Smith at Hempstead, New York. [Source: FindMyPast.com: Third Supplement To Torrey's New England Marriages Prior To 1700, Sanborn]
  • Daniel Denton, baptised 10 Jul 1632 at Halifax, Yorkshire as son of Richard Denton, Minister of Coley. Died: Unknown (about 1703). Married 24 Apr 1676 at Springfield, Massachusetts to Hannah Leonard. [Source: FindMyPast.com: FamilySearch film number: 000185414] comment: Married first to Abigail Stevenson: she remarried to Daniel Whitehead in 1672.
  • Phoebe Denton baptised 30 Nov. 1634 at Halifax, Yorkshire as daughter of Richard Denton, Minister of Coley. Died: Unknown. [Source: "Descendants of the Rev. Richard Denton," NYGBR, 1989, Walter C. Krumm]

proposed list - original

From the Denton Dispatch, Vol 1, Number 2, on mail list, 1998 link

According to George D. A. Combes, from the notes of William A.. D. Eardeley, the following is a list of the possible children of Rev. Richard Denton.

  • 1. Sarah Denton, born 1623-4, married about 1639 to William Thorne. ( Mr. Combes states that William Thorne of Hempstead and Flushing, L. I. did not have a wife named Sarah, but there was a William Thorne with wife Sarah at Roxbury, Mass., and perhaps this is the man whom Mr. Eardeley meant.) Sarah Thorne's tenth child was named Denton Thorne. Comment: "Some sources states that she was born in 1637 in Merrick, Queens, New York."
  • 2. Daniel Denton, born 1626, died 1703, married first 1659 to Abigail Stevenson, daughter of Edward and Anne Stevenson, divorced June 26, 1672, he married second April 24, 1876 at Springfield, Mass. to Hannah Leonard, born Dec. 19, 1659, daughter of John and Sarah Heath Leonard.
  • 3. Timothy Denton, born 1627, baptized July 23, 1627 at Parish Church, Bolton, Lancashire.
  • 4. Nathaniel Denton, born 1629, died Oct. 18, 1690, married about 1652 to Sarah (possibly Sarah Smith; if so, she would seem to be the daughter of William and Magdalen Smith, who were early at Hempstead and Newtown.)
  • was there a Richard Denton, Jr. ?
  • 5. Richard Denton (there is no proof that he was Rev. Richard's son), born about 1630, married at Dorchester, Mass. on Dec. 11, 1657 to Ruth Tileston, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Tileston. Richard died Dec. 28, 1658 at Dorchester, evidently leaving no issue. The widow Ruth married second 1663 to Timothy Foster. Comment: seen with two daughters, Coertje and Phebe.
  • 6. Samuel Denton, born 1632-4, died 1713, married about 1656 to Mary Smith, daughter of John "Rock" Smith.
  • 7. John Denton, born about 1636, married about 1664. It is stated "family data claims he went to Virginia."

disputed origins

Traditionally he has been identified as the Richard, son of Richard born on Saturday, 5 April 1603 at Yorkshire Co., England, christened Saturday, 19 April 1603 in Halifax, Yorkshire Co., England. The 1603 birth date is seen in his Dictionary of National Biography article and Cambridge University Alumni records.

However, his ordination as an his ordination as an Anglican priest in 1622-3 required that he be at least 23 and, therefore, his birth date must have been in 1601 or before. And, that the Venn and DNB birth dates in 1603 were not based on Cambridge records, as there were none kept at St. Catherine's College when he attended.

There is a statement that he was 61 years old in 1647 (according to Long Island History), which would indicate a birth date of 1586. This birth date is at odds with his known attendance as a sizar student at St Catherine's.

There was a Richard Denton, of Warley baptized 1601, son of Henry Denton, of Barnsley & Warley & Alice Denton who seems plausible as the Richard Denton who emigrated to America, but as of September 2017, definitive proof is to be found.

See discussion: https://www.geni.com/discussions/167758 "The Origins of Reverend Richard Denton"

proposed timeline in England

Last updated Sept 2017; by R Riegel (see https://www.geni.com/discussions/167758?msg=1170121 )

  • 1601 April 19 - Richard Denton baptised at Warley, Halifax
  • 1604 Aug 14 - Maria Durden baptised in Heptonstall (near Halifax)
  • 1621 - Became sizar at St Catharine's College, Cambridge
  • 1623 March 9 (Gregorian) - Ordained deacon
  • 1624 January (Gregorian) - BA degree from Cambridge
  • 1624 April 19 - Turned 23 and then one year after being ordained deacon
  • 1624 June 8 - Ordained a priest at Peterborough (erroneously reported as 1623)
  • 1624 June through 1625 - Teaching at Cambridge for his Master's degree
  • 1626 January 21 (Gregorian) - Married Maria Duerden in Halifax
  • 1626 January 27 (Gregorian) - Gilbert Astley, Turton, Lancashire minister buried
  • 1626 (after January) - Rev. Denton and Maria Duerden moved to Bolton and he began preaching at Turton
  • 1627 July 23 - Tymothie Denton baptised at Bolton, Lancashire
  • 1629 Mar 9 (Gregorian) - Nathaniel baptised at St Peter in Bolton, Lancashire
  • 1631 - Became Curate at Coley (near Halifax)
  • 1631 May 29 - Samuel baptised in Halifax.
  • 1631 Jul 28 - Tymothie buried in Halifax
  • 1632 Jul 10 - Daniel baptised in Halifax
  • 1634 Nov 30 - Phoebe baptised.
  • 1638 or 1639 - Emigrated to New England

Biographical Summary:

A graduate of Cambridge in 1623, and acknowledged by many as the founder of Presbyterianism in America, Rev. Richard Denton came to New England in 1635. [7] Before coming he was a preacher in Halifax England. [8]


In his book, "The History of the Clergy in Middle Colonies" author Weiss makes reference to the religious conflict of early Connecticut which resulted in Rev. Richard Denton moving on to Hempstead, Long Island, New York in 1644. He settled there in the midst of a large Dutch colony. However, there were also many English settlers living in the area without benefit of religious guidance. With these scattered members for a church, Rev. Denton established the first Presbyterian Church in America. This church was so successful that soon the Dutch neighbors began attending services there. [9]

History shows some controversery developed when Rev. Denton began to baptize some of the younger children of the Dutch who did not agree with all the Presbyterian beliefs.

From "Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664" a letter to the Classis of Amsterdam from Johannes Megapolensis and Samuel Drisius dated August 5, 1657: 'At Hempstead, about seven leagues from here, there live some independents. There are also many of our own church, and some Presbyterians. They have a Presbyterian preacher, Richard Denton, a pious, godly and learned man, who is in agreement with our church in everything. The Independents of the place listen attentively to his sermons: but when he began to baptize the children of parents who are not members of the church, they rushed out of the church."

The history of Hempstead, Long Island makes many references to the Dentons and their marriages and big families. The men were active in the local militias fighting the Indians and they developed excellent military experience that prepared them for officer commissions when they moved on to the Virginia frontier.

From "Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664" a letter to the Classis of Amsterdam from Johannes Megapolensis and Samuel Drisius dated August 5, 1657: "At Hempstead, about seven leagues from here, there live some Independents. There are also many of our own church, and some Presbyterians. They have a Presbyterian preacher, Richard Denton, a pious, godly and learned man, who is in agreement with our church in everything. The Independents of the place listen attentively to his sermons; but when he began to baptize the children of parents who are not members of the church, they rushed out of the church."

notes and footnotes

From http://www.dentongenealogy.org/revedento.htm (dead link)

The records on Rev. Richard Denton are very sketchy, and the authorities and genealogists do not always agree. However, George D.A. Combes, using notes prepared over a period of years by Wm. A.D. Eardeley, Esq, seems to have the most authentic version. According to Mr.. Combes, a full copy of the manuscript notes of Wm. A.D. Eardeley is in possession of the Queens Borough Public Library at Jamaica, New York.

Many of the actual dates of birth, marriage or death are not actually ascertainable. When only the year date is given, the reader is to assume that the date is only a suggested probability. If the full date is given, it has been taken from some record believed authentic. If the date is given as before or after a certain year date, such date is fixed by deduction from some authentic document.

The parents and ancestry of Rev. Richard cannot yet be identified with certainty, as there were several of that name located at Warley, in the Parish of Halifax, York, where he was born. It is possible to identify with reasonable certainty the baptism of Rev.. Richard, to identify his father, one of his sisters, and very definitely to identify the baptismal dates of five of his children.

Venn gave Rev. Richard's birth date as 1603; in all probability this was taken from his College records at Cambridge. The only baptism date of a Richard at Halifax in that year was on April 10, 1603, the parent being listed as Richard Denton of Warley. There was also a baptism on Dec. 21, 1600 of Susan, a daughter of this same Richard of Warley.

Venn also states that Rev. Richard received his B.A. from St. Catherine's College (or Catherine Hall), Cambridge University, England in 1622/3, was created a Deacon at Peterborough on March. 9, 1622/3, and made a priest on June 3, 1623. As this information was probably taken from College records, it should be authentic.

(According to information on film #057, Latter Day Saints Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Rev. Richard was born 1586 at Yorkshire, England, was 61 years old in 1647 at Hempstead, N.Y. (according to Long Island History), and was married in 1623/4.)

Mr.. Combes states that Rev. Richard's marriage does not appear among those of the Dentons at Halifax, nor is it recorded at Bolton, Lancashire where two of his children were baptized. Probably he was married not long before he became minister at Turton, a small place about four miles north of Bolton. This would put the probable date of his marriage as between 1624 and 1626. The baptismal dates for five of his children are known, two at Bolton, Lancashire and three at Coley, Halifax, from 1627 to 1634. It is know that three of his children, Nathaniel, Samuel, and Daniel, came to the U.S., probably with their parents in 1635.

There is no known record of the name of Rev. Richard's wife in this country, though he himself is frequently mentioned, so perhaps he was a widower by the time he came to America.

Although he is referred to as the first minister at Hempstead, N.Y. in a deed at Stamford in 1650, in which he disposed of his property there, he refers to himself as of "Mashpeag" on Long Island. There are two documents at Albany, signed by him, dated from Mashpeag and Middleborough in l650-l. He is said to have preached to the English soldiers at the Fort in New Amsterdam, probably about the time of the Indian troubles in 1643-5.

(According no Thompson's Long Island History, by 1650 the orders to attend church could not be enforced, and his wages had not been paid.)

Rev. Richard was engaged to act as minister at Hempstead in 1658, from a contract on the Town records.

The history of Hempstead, Long Island makes many references to the Dentons and their marriages and big families. The men were active in the local militias fighting the Indians and they developed excellent military experience that prepared them for officer commissions when they moved on to the Virginia frontier.

Footnotes:

[1] No ship record has been discovered. Conflict info: He was found on a passenger list in 1630 on the 'James.' / He emigrated from an unknown place 1630. with Governor Winthrop in the ship called 'Arabella'.

[2] A comment on Rev. Richard is found in Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi" vol. 1, p. 398 ".... Among these clouds was our pious and learned Mr. Richard Denton of Yorkshire, who, having watered Halifax in England with his fruitful ministry, was then by a tempest tossed into New England, where first at Weathersfield and then at Stamford, his doctrine dropped as the rain, his speech distilled as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. Though he were a little man, yet he had a great soul; his well-accomplished mind, in his lesser body, was as an Iliad in a nutshell. I think he was blind of an eye, yet he was not the least among the seers of Israel; he saw a very considerable portion or those things which eye hath not seen. He was far from cloudy in his conceptions and principles of divinity.

[3] From another letter dated Oct 22, 1657 the same writers continue: "Mr. Richard Denton, who is sound in faith, of a friendly disposition, and beloved by all, cannot be induced by us to remain, although we have earnestly tried to do this in various ways. He first went to Virginia to seek a situation, complaining of lack of salary, and that he was getting in debt, but he has returned thence. He is now fully resolved to go to old England, because of his wife who is sickly will not go without him, and there is a need of their going there on account of a legacy of four hundred pounds sterling lately left by a deceased friend, and which they cannot obtain except by their personal presence."

[4] About 1659, he is said to have returned to England, taking a church in Essex, at which place he died in 1662/3. Most authorities agree with this date and place. Thompson on says "On the tomb erected to his memory in that place is a Latin inscription... Venn's Cambridge Alumni also agrees, saying he died in 1662 at Hempstead, Essex. Yet, inquiry at that place shows no such tomb there, and it appears that Rev. Richard was not a rector or curate there in 1660 to 1663. However, Hempstead, Essex was strongly Puritan. In the hope that Rev. Richard had left a Will in England, a search was made for the period between 1660 and 1680. It was thought that perhaps the reason for Daniel Denton's trip to England in 1670 was to settle his father's estate, but the records apparently do not show it. It seems strange that historians have been so mistaken about the burial place of Rev. Richard Denton, but there is no stone memorial to him at Hempstead, Essex, England.

[5] From New England Genealogical Reg. 11/241: Rev. Richard Denton came to American from the Parish of Owram, North England on the ship "James." He lived in Wethersfield and Stamford, Connecticut. The J.S. Denton papers show baptismal records of Nathaniel and Timothy sons of Rev. Richard Denton "in Parish Church of Bolton, England." Rev. Richard worked first with the famous preacher, Cotton Mather.

[6] From an unnamed history of the Denton family: The general opinion among members of the Denton family is that all fo the Dentons in the United States are descendants of Rev. Richard Denton. Our research seems to substantiate this, for we have found only two instances where other Dentons lived in America and neithers of these left heirs named Denton. From New England Genealogical Register 11/241: Reverend Richard Denton came to America from the Parish of Owram, North England on the ship "James". (Note: Some say his ship was the "Arabella")

[7] In 1630 the first Presbyterian minister reaches America: the Rev. Richard Denton settles in Wethersfield, Conn. More than You probably want to know about the Presbyterian Church in the USA

[8] The Cambridge University listing for Richard Denton says: "Sizar of St. Catherine's Easter, 1621, b. 1603 in Yorks, B.A. 1622-3, priest 8 June 1623. Deacon at Peterborough 9 March 1622-3. Curate of Coleys Chapel, Halifax, for some years." ("Sizar" is defined as an undergraduate student.)

"sizar sizar: lowest of the three ranks in which students were matriculated" link to Venn Database "Scholar - a student who holds a Scholarship. See also: Commoner, Pensioner, Sizar.""Sizar - in medieval times, a poor student who paid his way at college by taking on menial domestic chores."link to The Jargon: Queen's College

[9] The plantation of Wethersfield, of which Mr. Denton was the leader, as well as the minister of the Church, was prosperous, and its numbers greatly increased. But, in 1641, another conflict for democratic rule caused some twenty-five families, led by Mr. Denton, to make another move. This brought them to Stamford, within the boundaries of the Colony of New Haven. Of the twenty-five families who came with Denton to Stamford, the names of eighteen are found later in the Hempstead list of 1647.

Again at Stamford, Mr. Denton's uncompromising democracy, or Presbyterianism, came in conflict with the New Haven rules that none but church members should vote in town meetings.' In 1643, representatives were sent out to investigate the land and the conditions across the Sound, on Nassau Island, as it was then known, within the jurisdiction of the more liberal Dutch government. This resulted in their obtaining in the following year, from Governor Kieft, the patent for the town of Hempstead.

The settlers promptly formed a central community, which was called the "Town Spot," and which developed into what is now the village of Hempstead. There they constructed a "Fort," and the meeting house was built within it. As was the custom in New England, this meeting house was built upon the town's "common land," at the public expense, and as authorized by vote in the town meeting. It was used not merely as a place of worship on Sundays, but was also the place for holding town meetings, and for conducting the business of the magistrates. The minister was chosen by the town vote, and his salary was fixed and raised by a rate assessed upon all the inhabitants. It was, doubtless, in this little first meeting house that the first legislative Assembly of the Province of New York was held in 1665, called together by Col. Nickol, after Charles II had granted this territory to his brother, the Duke of York. This Assembly was composed of delegates from New York, from Westchester and the towns of Long Island. The celebrated code, known as the "Duke's Laws," was enacted here.

During the sixty years which constituted the first period of the history of Hempstead's Church, there were three ministers duly chosen and resident in the town. The first of these, the Rev. Richard Denton, who brought the people here, and exercised a large influence in the formative years of the settlement, remained with them until 1658, when he resigned. The last mention of Mr. Denton's name upon the Town books is on March 4, 1658, when a rate was made for the payment of his salary, at the rate of f174os. per quarter. Shortly afterwards he returned to England where he died in the year 1662. History of Christ's First Presbyterian Church of Hempstead, Long Island, New York

[10] As no mention is made of his wife in his Connecticut years it is not clear when she died or where.

Sources:

Whitley, Edythe J. R. Some of the Descendants of Rev. Richard Denton. McMinnville, Tenn: Womack Print. Co, 1959. Print.find in a library

Notes on sourcing:

original "overview" data came from from http://www.acun.com/dentons/revedento.htm - 22 Nov 98- Denton web site, which verifies and adds to information on Richard Denton already gathered from numerous sources over the past 20 years.

supporting data

From Cambridge Alumni database (Venn records) link

Richard DENTON

  • Matric. sizar from ST CATHARINE'S, Easter 1621.
  • B. 1603, in Yorkshire .
  • B.A., 1623/4 .
  • Ord. deacon (Peterb.) 09 Mar., 1622/3; priest, 08 Jun., 1623.
  • C. of Coley Chapel, Halifax [ West Riding of Yorkshire ], for some years.
  • Went to New England [cu] USA [/cu], c 1638 .
  • Preacher at Stamford, Connecticut [ USA ]; and at Hempstead, Long Island [ New Jersey ] [ USA ], for 15 years.
  • Returned to England , 1659 .
  • [Died]; Said to have died at Hempstead, Essex , 1663 .
  • Author, Soliliquia Sacra .
  • ( Fell, 515; J. G. Bartlett; D.N.B. )

From page 380 of Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 14 edited by Sir Leslie Stephen

DENTON, RICHARD (1603-1663), divine, was born in 1603 in Yorkshire, and lived at Priestley Green. He took his B.A. degree at Catharine Hall, Cambridge, 1623. He became minister of the chapel of Coley, near Coley Hall, ' an ancient seat of the tenure commonly called St. John of Jerusalem' (Oliver Heywood, iv. 9). Here he remained about seven years, when, finding the times hard, the bishops 'at their height,' and the 'Book for Sports on the Sabbath-day' insupportable, he emigrated with a numerous family to New England. He settled at Wethersfield in 1640, but finding himself in disagreement with other ministers there on the subject of church discipline, he removed to Stamford in 1644, whence he departed not long after to Hempstead, Long Island, where he died in 1663 (savage, ii. 40). Cotton Mather, in his' Magnalia,' gives a high-flown description of his eloquence and powers of persuasion, which he contrasts with the smallness of his stature and the blindness of one of his eyes. 'His well-accomplished mind,' says Mather, ' in his lesser body was an Iliad in a nutshell.' The same writer states that Denton wrote a system of divinity entitled ' Soliloquia Sacra,' descriptive of the fourfold state, which does not seem to have been published.

[Oliver Heywood's Autobiography, 1885; Savage's Diet, of Settlers in New England; Mather's Magnalia, or Ecclesiastical Hist, of New England, B. iii. 95.] R. H.

Links

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Rev. Richard Denton's Timeline

1601
1601
Halifax, Yorkshire, England
1603
April 10, 1603
Age 2
Halifax, Yorkshire, , England
April 18, 1603
Age 2
Worley, Halifax, Yorkshire, Eng
April 19, 1603
Age 2
Halifax, Yorkshire, England
April 19, 1603
Age 2
Halifax, Yorkshire, England
April 19, 1603
Age 2
Halifax, Yorkshire, England
1627
July 23, 1627
Age 26
Halifax, Yorkshire, England
1628
March 26, 1628
Age 27
Lancaster, Bolton Priory, England
1629
1629
Age 28
Bolton, Lancashire , England