GGF21 – John de Denton ( -1282)

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Anketin’s other son John is my direct ancestor.

As mentioned above, the National Archives (Ref: ZSW/2/2) shows that John  married Agnes, the daughter of Ralph de Halhuton and was granted a marriage settlement of ‘30 acres of land with toft and croft which Stacius the clerk had from me in the land of Halhuton and half an acre outside the said croft on which to build granges and other buildings; and ten acres of land from his demesne in the said township’. Witnesses to the settlement included: Robert de Denton, Anketin de Denton and others.

In the Northumberland Archives they are actually referenced as Rannlphi de Halhuton and Johanni de Denton. Halhuton appears to be in Staffordshire. The settlement also agreed that ‘John and his heirs the liberty of grinding his corn and that of his men which grows on the said land at my mill free of the multure which he ought to give.’

John awarded some land to the local Benedictine Wetheral Priory in 1214. Of course Wetheral was to be dissolved with other monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538. Today all that remains is a 15thcentury fortified gatehouse which English Heritage suggests is ‘the finest medieval gatehouse in Cumbria’. This is not really saying much as they give no indication as to how many others exist in the county.

Wetheral Priory Gatehouse

John was also a signatory to a contract in 1225. His marriage to the Vaux heiress (never named!) delivered him three sons – Richard, John and Thomas. Thomas was my GGF20 but the two other sons are also worthy of note.

Descendants of John de Denton (GGF21) would became the founders of two distinct branches of the Denton family. His eldest son was Sir Richard de Denton my GU21. Another GU21 and his second son was John de Denton, whose son in turn became Sir John de Denton my IC21 (first cousin twenty-one times removed). These brothers both became prominent knights, building their reputation participating in the regular cross-border battles and skirmishes.

In 1286 Alexander III, King of Scotland, died and the crown passed to his three-year-old granddaughter Margaret. In her minority she was to be supervised by the ‘Guardians of Scotland’. They proposed her marriage to the five-year-old heir apparent to the English throne, though the nations would remain independent. Margaret died on her way from Orkney to Scotland and the guardians had to think again. They asked the English king Edward I to conclude a way forward.

The outcome was Scotland’s ‘Great Cause’ as thirteen claimants vied for the crown. A key contender was John Balliol, Lord of Galloway, who had forged an alliance with the Bishop of Durham and was selected by Edward I to succeed. The other was Robert the Bruce (or Brus), the 5th Lord of Annandale. The early de Denton knights (Richard and John) earned status and land fighting for the Balliols and the English king.

They were awarded armorial bearings, a coat of arms. Yes of course we had to have one. In fact as you will see we actually have quite a few from which to choose.

Denton coat of arms

The description of this original coat of arms (above) was that it should bear argent, two bars gules, in chief three cinquefoils sable. This heraldic-speak means the background should be argent or silver, though optionally white, the two horizontal bars are gule from the French meaning throat and thus red, with three cinquefoils, or five-leaved flowers, in sable or black.

Heraldry proves useful here as it provides us with a list of knights during Edward I’s reign (1272-1307) and two distinct Denton coat of arms, sufficiently similar to show that two Denton knights, Sir Richard and Sir John, were related:

The left-hand coat or arms is the senior version and uses the original three cinquefoils, its eagle crest perhaps a link to the Roman usage of eagles in their standards. The cinquefoil is a five-leafed flower signifying hope and joy.

The other version replaces the cinquefoils with three martlets plus a fourth as a crest and rotates the colours argent and gule. The martlet is a bird, like a swallow, usually shown without feet (but not here), and often indicates in heraldry that this is a fourth son.

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 GU21 – Sir Richard de Denton – Forward to Middle Ages Index
Back to GGF23b – Anketin de Denton – Back to Denton Family Bible

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