GGF12 – Thomas Denton of Fyfield [2] (1465-1560)

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This Thomas was also known as Thomas Denton of Fyfield, or ‘of Caversfield’ Oxfordshire (Bucks today).

He married Jane Webb (1459-1560) [or Webbe] (of Cardiff and Hertfordshire), the widow of Cheyne of Chesham Bois in Buckinghamshire.

They married in 1489 at Caversfield and had two sons, GU12 John Denton of Ambrosden (1490-1576) and GGF11 Sir Thomas Denton (1504-1558) and six daughters, Isabel (1490-1536), Susan (1493 – ), Jane (?-?) who married John Langeston of Caversfield, Anne (?_?) who married Sir Edward Grevil of Milcott, Alice (1500- 1 Mar 1537) who married William Thorne (1490-1551), and Elizabeth (1505 – ). His daughter Susan became a nun at Studley and was thus subsequently reported as a Catholic recusant.

Caversfield was land held before the Conquest by Edward, a man of Tostig Godwinson, the Earl of Northumberland. This was one of twenty-six manors and townships held by Tostig.

However, Tostig and his family were exiled by Edward the Confessor for poor management of the borders with Scotland. Tostig thus encouraged Harald Hardrada of Norway to invade the north of England, and prompted his brother Harold Godwinson (aka Harold I) to enjoin them in battle at Stamford Bridge.

They lost that battle and Tostig was killed on 25 Sep 1066. Nineteen days later on 14 Oct 1066 Harold Godwinson was himself defeated and killed at the Battle of Hastings. A turning point in English history.

In 1511 Thomas Denton leased Caversfield from Richard Langston for a term of twenty years at an annual rent of £26. The two fell out in 1525 when Langston claimed that Thomas had used his subtle and crafty mind, being expert in making of writings, and forged a new lease granting himself a further term in the manor. Langston died at the end of 1525, but the argument continued with his heir John Langston until he died in 1558.

In 1526 Thomas was Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. He was elected to six parliamentary constituencies – Wallingford (1536), Oxford (1539), Berkshire (1547), Banbury (April 1554), Buckinghamshire (November 1554) and Oxfordshire (1558). His ‘electoral mobility’ was perhaps influenced by his ongoing land speculation.

St Laurence, Caversfield

In Thomas’s will, dated 27 Dec 1533, he elected to be buried at St Laurence in Caversfield, and arranged for a supulchral slab to be set in its floor. Beside this a brass plate was placed on the wall showing two hands holding a heart enscribed ‘Credo’, three brass scrolls (or labels) issued from it, inscribed:

  • heu michi Deus quia peccavi nimis in vita mea or ‘woe is me , Lord, for we have sinned grievously in my life’
  • Quid faciam miser? Ubi resurgam nisi ad te Deus meus.., or ‘whither shall I flee to Thee alone , O my God , what will I, wretched…’
  • Miserere mei dum veneris in novissimo die or ‘have mercy on me at the last day when you will come’.

On the slab itself was a Denton coat of arms, ‘bearing two bars, in fess point a mullet (for difference), in chief three estoils, impaling a moline cross‘. Moline is Old French for a mill, referencing its shape. No idea what it was doing here because it is most often associated with St Benedict of Nursia, remembered in the Church of England with merely a Lesser Festival on 11 July.

A moline cross

Thomas appears to have held the manor until his death in 1560. Interestingly, he died in Wootton in Berkshire, some eighty miles south of Caversfield. I can only assume this was land acquired in the Vale of the White Horse– see below, however today Wootton is in Oxfordshire.

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 GU12 – John Denton of Ambrosden (1490-1576) – Forward to American Denton’s Index
Back to GGF13 – Sir John Brome (1410-1468) – Back to Denton Family Bible

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