Interior of Sebergham Church ©Bob Denton 2016
The grandson of John de Denton and Agnes, through their son Sir Thomas, was this Thomas Denton of Warnell. Thomas died in 1616 but had arranged for an altar tomb to be built for him in the choir of St Mary’s Sebergham, to the south of Carlisle.
Interior of St Marys Sebergham
Sir Thomas’s memorial
Coats of arms close-up
St Marys external
St Marys Church, Sebergham ©Bob Denton 2016
This Thomas was reported to have a facial disfigurement and was therefore rather rudely known by the sobriquet ‘Tom with the spots’. However, he married both Elizabeth Dacre, and a Yorkshire noblewoman, Anne Aislaby, so he must have had made up for his appearance in personality.
When Warnell was sold in 1774, its purchaser, Sir James Lowther, considered the altar be something of an obstruction and removed it at some stage between the visitations of 1775 and 1785. The church salvaged the side slabs and fixed them to the south wall of the church’s sanctuary.
The slabs pictured above show two repeated coats of arms. At the top is the traditional Denton coat of arms with trefoils and stripes. Those at the bottom are the Denton arms impaling those of Aislaby of Yorkshire which features martlets, an eagle and a morion (a flat brimmed open helmet). Could this in fact be where the martlet version of Denton’s arms originated? But, it may have been in use earlier than this.
Thomas Denton of Warnell described as Armiger, Master of Arts and ‘of worthy memory’ died at the age of eighty on 1 April 1616. The plaque inscription consists of Latin hexameters and pentameters by Bernard Ellis (I found no background on Ellis). The inscriptions were on either end of the altar tomb with the coats of arms on the sides. The church provides the details thus:
Per Me By Me
AD uxor A D (Anne Denton) wife
Molliter ossa cubant. Mens The bones lies softly. May the mind
Aurea viuet Olimpo live golden in Olympus
Viuet in eternum chara May the lineage live for ever
Deo Soboles. Qth BE dear to God. Quoth BE
Cumbria Warnellum Thomam deplorat ademptum
Dentun qui siquidem Daltaton alter erat
Nempe pius, sapiens ex omni parte Quadratus
Qualem vix hodie scecula nostra ferunt
Cumbria bewails the snatching off of Thomas Warnell
Since this Denton was indeed another Deltaton
Without doubt pious, wise and complete in every part
Such a man as our ages scarcely bring today.
Also in Sebergham’s church is a monument to the Rev Josiah Relph (1710-1743), described as ‘The Poet of the North’ and lauded as a learned diligent and conscientious schoolmaster and an exemplary parish priest. This is relevant because his will was attested and sworn by Henry Denton and Isaac Denton.
Was Thomas Denton an early freemason?
The terms Deltaton (perhaps more correctly Deltoton?) and Quadratus are odd usages here. The first is a constellation known as the triangle and the second is used to suggest Thomas was square all round. The triangle is of course significant in Masonry as it represents the first enclosable shape using straight lines and also for its connection with the sacred Trinity. The square in Masonry is a tool for creating true lines and a symbol of moral rectitude.
However, when the square is superimposed by a set of compasses it becomes one of the most recognised masonic symbols representing the fraternity. The first Masonic lodge was founded at Edinburgh in 1598 – not so very far from Sebergham?
Masonic symbology – implied within Thomas’s inscription?