Thomas was born at Great Houghton, Northamptonshire. He pursued a career in law, joining the Middle Temple shortly before his father’s death.
Thomas married Margaret Mordaunt, daughter of the Lord Mordaunt, Baron of Turvey, in Bedfordshire and later he married Elizabeth de Vere. Margaret was the widow to Edmund Fettiplace of Bessels Leigh, Oxfordshire with whom she bore nine children. With Thomas she had two sons, William (GGF10) and Sir Alexander.
Thomas was Mayor of Wallingford in 1536 and took many roles in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
As a prominent lawyer Sir Thomas Denton surpassed his elder brother in importance and wealth. He worked closely with Thomas Cromwell and the king. For example he (with two others) was commissioned to prepare a report on the Inns of Court for Henry VIII.
As a reward he became MP in a succession of constituencies – Wallingford (1536), Oxford (1539), possibly Oxford or Wallingford but records are lost (1542 and 1545), a knight and MP for Berkshire (1547), Banbury (April 1554), a knight and MP for Buckinghamshire (November 1554) and Oxfordshire (1558), although he died during the last parliament’s prorogation. His brother’s marriage to the Brome’s of Halton may have helped with his appointment as Oxford’s MP in 1539.
Together with the 1st Baron Stafford he is credited with obtaining the incorporation and enfranchisement of Banbury on 26 January 1554 and he was returned as its first MP. However, he was absent when the House was called early in January 1555 and was brought before the King’s Bench. In 1558 he was distrained, though the sum charged has been erased.
The reason Thomas Denton was so mobile in terms of the constituencies he represented was that he was a prolific acquirer of lands. He negotiated with the prominent Hampden, Temple and Verney families and built the reputation of the 17th century Dentons in Buckinghamshire. This was enabled to a large extent by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1536-1541 and the subsequent selling off of their lands.
In December 1541 Thomas acquired land in the London parish of St Olave. In May 1545 he also bought former monastic lands in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Suffolk for £321. He paid £310 for more properties in Berkshire and another £118 for even more Berkshire land. In 1546 he acquired the 21-year lease of Farthingoe Manor in Northamptonshire. For £63 6s 8d he bought two mills in the forest of Macclesfield, Cheshire. He also owned a manor or farm called Lee Mill in Gloucestershire.
In May 1547 he was granted and purchased the manor of Hillesden from Edward VI for £63 6s 8d. It had previously been owned by Edward Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, but he and his parents were implicated in the Roman Catholic Exeter Conspiracy and imprisoned from 1538-1553 and the land was confiscated. Thomas paid a quarterly rent of £5 13s 6d for Hillesden.
He would become the Treasurer of the Middle Temple from 1556-7.
Thomas’s will dated 20 July 1557 asked for him to be buried in Hillesden All Saints Church with ‘a fair tomb of marble’ following an elaborate funeral. He funded sermons and alms to preserve his memory in eight local churches so that their priests would pray for his salvation and passage through purgatory.
Thomas also sourced six silver ‘standing pots’ to be distributed to his brother John, his stepson John Fettiplace and others, again with injunctions to pray for him. His widow Margaret was to enjoy Hillesden for life and their son Alexander inherited the bulk of the estate and his library.
My direct lineage then moved away from Hillesden with William my GGF10 but a colourful series of Dentons remained living in Hillesden until it was sieged and destroyed by Oliver Cromwell.
Listed below are some of these:
- Sir Richard Denton of Calderdale (1517-1561)
- GU11 – Sir Alexander Denton (1542-1576)
- 1C11 – Sir Thomas Denton (1574-1633)
- Richard Denton (1557-1619)
- 3C11 – Rev Richard Denton (1603-1663)
- 2C10 – Sir Alexander Denton (1596-1645)
- 2C10 – Dr William Denton FRCP (1605-1691)
- 3C9 – Alexander Denton (1654-1698)
- 5C7 – Sir Edmund Denton (1676-1714)
- 5C7 – Sir Alexander Denton (1679-1740)
- 5C7 – John Denton (1680-1701)
|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