This period finds Dentons living in a number of places in Warwickshire and Buckinghamshire. However, their involvement with two different estates around fifty miles apart proves most interesting. These are Baddesley Clinton, nine miles north of Warwick, and Hillesden, four miles south of Buckingham.
The house at Baddesley Clinton was built in the early 1400s on land earlier cleared within the Arden Forest by a Saxon named Baeddi. The moat was built in the 13thcentury by the de Clinton family and these two separate names were joined to form the name Baddesley Clinton.
In 1438 the land was acquired by Sir John Brome, a GGF13. He was a lawyer who married into another prominent local family when he wed Beatrix Shirley. He built the original property partly using the Arden sandstone quarried locally.
His daughter Isabella Brome (1435-1474) married Sir John Denton of Wittenham (1445-1497); they were my GGP13s.
The property passed to the Ferrer family in the 16thcentury and Henry Ferrer heavily expanded the building. He built on a great hall, established a formal garden and added many coats of arms to the fabric of the building. Eventually it became a National Trust property, which opened to the public in 1982.
Having ceded Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire to the Ferrers family, the Denton attention moved further south to Hillesden, today a rather remote and tiny place located four miles south of Buckingham
Hillesden manor house in Buckinghamshire had previously been owned by Edward Courtenay, the Marquis of Exeter, but he and his parents became implicated in the Roman Catholic ‘Exeter Conspiracy’. Henry Courtenay (Edward’s father), Geoffery Pole, Sir Edward Nevill and Sir Nicholas Carew had all been close to Henry VIII in his early years but in the late 1530s they were accused of treason and after interrogation and imprisonment each was executed.
The Poles and Courtenays had their lands confiscated and Edward Courtenay was imprisoned in the Tower from 1538-1553. In 1547 Thomas Denton was able opportunistically to purchase Hillesden from Edward VI for £63 6s 8d. It became the Denton seat, as Thomas expanded the land he owned in Buckinghamshire around Hillesden.
The Dentons, who held Hillesden for more than 200 years, were a family of considerable local importance. Sir Alexander Denton, the head of the house at the time of the Civil War, had married a cousin of John Hampden, but his Royalist sympathies were well known. In 1642 a Parliamentary soldier, Nathaniel Wharton, boasted of having, with a file of men. ‘marched to Sir Alexander Denton’s park, who is a malignant fellow, and killed a fat buck.’
Because of the London trade, Buckinghamshire was relatively prosperous compared with many others at a time of general trade depression. It had some 200 gentry families, of whom approximately 40 or so were considered as prominent. Many of this closely-knit group were related to one another. Sir Alexander Denton of Hillesden was the brother-in-law of Sir Edmund Verney of Claydon and father-in-law to Sir William Drake’s younger brother Francis from Amersham (not the sailor of course). Denton was also a cousin of Sir Peter Temple of Stowe.
As we shall see Hillesdsen house was sacked by Oliver Cromwell in 1644. However, the estate was sustained beyond this date.
This crop of Dentons at Hillesden routinely represented Buckinghamshire in parliament during the 17th century but as royalists embroiled in the English Civil War their line had became extinct by 1714.
Dentons supplied many MPs across this period. At various times representing 31 constituency-periods:
- Banbury (1554, 1558),
- Berkshire (1547),
- Buckingham (1604, 1614, 1621, 1624, 1625, 1626, 1628, 1640, 1640-4, 1690-8, 1708-1710, 1715-1722),
- Buckinghamshire (1554, 1698-1708, 1708-1713),
- Huntingdon (1413, 1414 and 1416),
- Midhurst (1553, 1554, 1555, 1558, 1559, 1563),
- Oxford (1539),
- Oxfordshire (1558),
- Wallingford (1536)
- Wendover (1624).
|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