5C7 – Sir Alexander Denton (1679-1740)

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Alexander and Hester’s second son was another Alexander (1679-1740) who, as with many gentry families, was directed into a career in law. He matriculated from St Edmund Hall Oxford and joined the Middle Temple in 1698. He took silk in 1704 and became a King’s Counsel in 1720.

Memorial to Sir Alexander Denton in All Saints, Hillesden

His career was helped when he became embroiled in the case of Ashby v White in 1703. This was a foundational case in UK constitutional and tort law. It concerned the right to vote and the malfeasance of public officials. Ashby had been prevented from voting in Aylesbury by a Constable White. Alexander became something of a Whig martyr when, in fighting for habeas corpus, he was removed from the House of Commons and imprisoned for supposed breach of privilege. He later fought for immigrant German Palatines to be naturalized, adding to his reputation within his party.

He was MP for Buckingham 1708-1710 when he became private secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and an MP in the Irish Parliament from 1709-1710. He later returned to be the Recorder of Buckingham. Being away in Ireland he lost his Buckingham seat in the October 1710 election. In 1714 he became Attorney General to the Duchy of Lancaster and regained his seat from 1715-1722.

In May 1714 Alexander’s financial situation was transformed, firstly when he inherited his brother’s real and personal estate, and again when he married Catherine Bond from Sundridge, Kent in 1716; she brought with her a £20,000 fortune.

He held a number of roles, joining a committee on the bill to rebuild Eddystone lighthouse, becoming Serjeant at Arms in the House of Commons, Justice of the Common Pleas in 1722 and chancellor to Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1729. He applied unsuccessfully to Walpole in January 1736 to be made lord chief justice of the common pleas and again in February 1737 to be made lord chief justice of the King’s bench, however Walpole told him that he was ‘too old and infirm to discharge the duty’. Offered the post of chief baron of the Exchequer in 1738, he at first refused; but ‘when I shewed a willingness to submit … the objection was made and no time given me to do what [was] required’. ‘My greatest desire is to know why I was so very much pressed to take it and why I was so easily dropped‘.

Childless, he died 22 March 1740, leaving his estate to his nephew George Chamberlayne of Wardington, son of his sister Elizabeth.

Alexander and Catherine had no issue so his property was passed on to his nephew George Chamberlayne, the son of his eldest sister Elizabeth. George promptly assumed the name George Chamberlayne Denton (1703-1757), who was yet another who chose to take our name. George was adopted by Alexander’s brother John to formalise this.

George married Constance Hardy daughter of Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy – who commanded HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and prompted Lord Nelson, as he lay dying, to say ‘Kiss Me Hardy’ or perhaps it was ‘Kismet Hardy’.

Memorial to Alexander and Catherine and plaque to Catherine – ©Bob Denton 2016

Note on shorthand acronyms being used in the DFB:
GGF1 / GGM1 – means first great-grandfather /mother;
GU11 / GA11 – means eleventh great-uncle / great-aunt;
1C3 – means first cousin three times removed

Forward to 5C7 – John Denton (1680-1701) – Forward to American Denton’s Index
Back to 5C7 – Sir Edmund Denton (1676-1714) – Back to Denton Family Bible

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