04/12/2022

William de Denton (?-1404) to William Denton (1523-1565)

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NOTE: To understand our family history we need to follow two parallel tracks.

The male line had became extinct, in the elder branch, after five descents, by the death of
Sir Richard Denton,. Richard’s heiress, Margaret Denton married Adam Copley who acquired the
Denton property. His grandson Richard Copley had a daughter Isabel de Copley who married
Adam de (or del) Hall, they both took on the name of Denton, and had a grant from his
father-in-law of the arms of Denton, as borne by his maternal ancestor, Sir Richard Denton.
This line progresses down to Charles Denton of Cockermouth, whose only claim to fame was
to sell Warnell Hall to Sir James Lowther (who became Earl of Lonsdale in 1774).

In the meantime the cadet line, through Sir John de Denton, progressed as shown below:

William de Denton of Cardew – 2C20R ( – 1404)

In Oct 1393 Sir John de Denton signed an agreement in French with Richard de Coupland, Richard de Skelton and John’s son William de Denton (2C20). Part of this agreement was that William would take Katherine de Coupland as his wife – within fifteen days!

Cardew House, Cumbria

William and Katherine did marry, and he became known as William de Denton of Cardew.

St. Michael & All Angels Church, Ainstable

Sandstone effigies of William and Katherine were originally placed in St Cuthbert’s Church in Carlisle (where William is buried) but later these were moved to either side of the altar at St. Michael & All Angels Church, Ainstable.

These effigies were for a while misidentified as being of Katherine and her second husband John Aglionby. An inscription reads Orate pro Anima Katarine Denton quis orbit AD 1428 – ‘Pray for the soul of Katherine Denton who died AD 1428’.

Sandstone effigy of William de Denton in Ainstable – often mistaken to be John Aglionby. I could only source a poor image of Katherine’s effigy.
They look more Karnak than Cumbria!

William de Denton (the younger) – 3C19R

William and Katherine’s son was another William de Denton (the younger) who served as a Mayor of Carlisle.

He married Elizabeth (no maiden name established) and their son was John de Denton of Cardew (1420-1493), my fourth cousin eighteen times removed.

This John of Cardew appeared in the lists of gentry of Cumberland in 1433. In 1461 he was the Commissioner of Array, charged with gathering up the king’s subjects in Cumberland against Henry VI. This was presumably a Yorkist initiative during the Wars of the Roses. Richard of York had imprisoned Henry VI following the battle of Northampton in July 1460. Henry was rescued that December and deposed in March 1461.

John de Denton of Cardew -4C18R (1420-1493) and
Henry or (William Henry) Denton of Cardew – 5C17R ( -1532)

John of Cardew married Margaret Fenwick and their son Henry (or William Henry) married a daughter of a Mr Crackenthorpe and himself had two sons, both sixth cousins sixteen times removed.

Henry Denton of Cardew Esq, was a respected member of the gentry in early 16th century Cumberland. He came from a long line of Dentons who had served various kings since at least the 12th century and he had been MP for Carlisle in 1467-8.

In 1473 he was the Principal Agent in Carlisle for Richard, Duke of York (later Richard III), in 1487 he was King’s Lieutenant in Carlisle for Henry VII and in 1490 Sheriff of Cumberland. He was also Mayor of Carlisle on several occasions.

Carlisle cathedral

In both July 1511 and August 1512 Henry Denton was commissioned for array by Henry VIII. This meant he was responsible for mustering as many men and arms as possible from his lands, so that numbers of each could be established in readiness to be called upon if/when war broke out along the border.

It would therefore, be logical to assume that when the call to arms came in 1513, that was followed by the battle of Flodden, Henry and his men would have been among them. This proved to be a decisive English victory fought against the Scots in Northumberland. However, after that commission for array in August 1512, nothing else appears to be recorded about Henry Denton.

William Denton of Cardew – 6C16R ( – 1537)

William served as a bailiff to the city of Carlisle in 1516 and 1523. In 1528 he was caught up in a riot. His son John de Denton was father to Henry de Denton of Cardew and his first son was John Denton the historian (see below).

William was probably in his 40s at the time of Flodden. His wife’s name was Winifred, and she is recorded as later marrying Roger Brisco.

Carlisle castle

William was empanelled on an inquisition concerning the escape of a Scottish prisoner Richard Graham of Esk. In the mid-16thcentury the Grahams were a troublesome Scottish clan able to amass some five hundred warriors. Richard Graham of Esk was the eldest son of Lang Will, the clan chieftain. In 1528 William Lord Dacre, as the English Warden of the Western March, mounted a secret raid to Eskdale to attack another clan, the Armstrongs. It proved to be a trap and Dacre’s men were badly mauled, the Armstrongs slipped past them and burned the village of Netherby in England and a mill owned by Dacre.

Lord Dacre believed the Armstrongs had been tipped off by Richard Graham, Richard being married to an Armstrong. Richard Graham was taken into custody on 23 March 1528. He was charged with treason and awaited execution in Carlisle Castle’s high tower with fetters on his feet.

By order of the under-sheriff, Sir William Musgrave, on Sundays Richard was unshackled to walk up and down the castle. He was permitted to eat in the dining hall and to attend a church service. Richard leapt out through a privy postern which stood open to the fields where he was met by a man who supplied him a horse upon which he galloped away to Scotland.

Richard subsequently succeeded in clearing himself of the charge of treason by proving that it was a member of the Storey family of Netherby who had actually informed the Armstrongs.

Nicholas Denton of Cardew – 6C16R (1500 – )

Nicholas also served as a Bailiff of the city of Carlisle but intriguingly in 1533 he was appointed as the clerk of the watch for Berwick-upon-Tweed some eighty-six miles away in Northumberland. He served in that post until the end of Henry VIII’s reign in 1547, and subsequently moved to the south of England.

Beriwck Castle and bridge

ASIDE: Elizabeth Jerningham (daughter of John Jerningham of Somerleyton, Suffolk and Agnes Durrell) was already married to a John Denton, and thus Lady Elizabeth Denton, when she entered the household of Henry VII’s children as mistress of the nursery, receiving £20 per annum. Little could be established of John Denton, but one source mentions a William Denton who served as Elizabeth of York’s carver as well as the king’s in receipt of £26 per year.

Henry VIII as a young man

She was governess to Prince Henry from 1496. She is likely to be the same Mistress Denton who accompanied Princess Margaret to Scotland and the wardrobe keeper who was later a lady-in-waiting to the queen; though King James later ordered that the number of English women serving his wife was to be reduced.

Sources suggests that she was Lady Governess to Catherine of Aragon’s first, short-lived, child in 1511m and in May 1515 she became first Lady Mistress of the nursery (aka Governess) of Henry VIII’s daughter Mary, she was said by then to be a widow.
In 1509 Elizabth was awarded an annuity of £50 a year as well as the keepership during her lifetime of Coldharbour, Lady Margaret Beaufort’s former London residence. In addition there was a tun of Gascon wine delivered each year throughout her life.
In 1518, Elizabeth Denton erected a tomb to herself in Blackfriars, she lived in some comfort in the Blackfriars Precinct until her death. She had a messuage, tenement and garden with a way to the waterside between the garden of Lady Peacock on the west and the garden of Richard Tryce on the east, and also had two chambers and a cellar under the under-library adjacent to the hill garden.
Elizabeth Denton left a will dated 26 April 1518, in which she left thirty shillings to the prior and chapter of Blackfriars. There is mention in her father’s will that her heir was her son Walter, but he appears to have pre-deceased her.
The John and William Denton mentioned here are suggestive of the individuals detailed on this page, but sadly, I could find no data to confirm that we are connected to Lady Elizabeth Denton.

William Denton – 7C15R (1523-1565)

Nicholas’s son William had served with him as joint-clerk of the watch at Berwick but, on moving south, he worked as steward to the Browne family in Midhurst Sussex. He travelled widely with Sir Anthony Browne of Cowdray and his son. In 1549 he acquired property in Southwark, then in Surrey. Of course, he and the Brownes’ staunch Catholicism proved a significant asset during the five years of Mary I’s reign (1553-1558), but both of them managed to maintain their status under Elizabeth I as well.

William served eight terms as MP for Midhurst from 1553. He also served as commissioner for Kent sewers in 1564. In 1557 he bought the manor at Stedham in Sussex (adjacent to Midhurst) for £760 and just before his death in 1564 he purchased the rectory of Tonbridge, Kent.

In 1564 he was surveyor to Browne’s son Anthony who was by then Viscount Montagu. William’s travels are perhaps best highlighted by items left in his will – a damask tablecloth bearing the Emperor’s arms, with matching towel, cupboard cloth and a dozen napkins, maps, cards and pictures.

Nicholas’s other son Sir Anthony Denton matriculated from Brasenose College Oxford in 1578 at eighteen years of age. He joined the Middle Temple in 1581. Anthony left one daughter, then this line died out.

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 Isabel de Denton
Back to Middle Ages Index – Back to First Principals Index
Back to GU21 – Sir Richard de Denton – Back to Denton Family Bible

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