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The Denton Dispatch, published quarterly by
George Denton, White Pine, Tennessee and Denton M. Starr of Stilwell, Oklahoma, 1986
Volume 1, No. 1
Rev. Richard Denton
The records on Rev. Richard Denton are very
sketchy, and the authorities and genealogists do not always agree. However, George D.A.
Combes, using notes prepared over a period of years by Wm. A.D. Eardeley, Esq, seems to
have the most authentic version. According to Mr.. Combes, a full copy of the manuscript
notes of Wm. A.D. Eardeley is in possession of the Queens Borough Public Library at
Jamaica, New York.
Many of the actual dates of birth, marriage or death are not actually ascertainable. When only the year date is given, the reader is to assume that the date is only a suggested probability. If the full date is given, it has been taken from some record believed authentic. If the date is given as before or after a certain year date, such date is fixed by deduction from some authentic document.
The parents and ancestry of Rev. Richard cannot yet be identified with certainty, as there were several of that name located at Warley, in the Parish of Halifax, York, where he was born. It is possible to identify with reasonable certainty the baptism of Rev.. Richard, to identify his father, one of his sisters, and very definitely to identify the baptismal dates of five of his children;.
Venn gave Rev. Richard's birth date as 1603; in all probability this was taken from his College records at Cambridge. The only baptism date of a Richard at Halifax in that year was on April 10, 1603, the parent being listed as Richard Denton of Warley. There was also a baptism on Dec. 21, 1600 of Susan, a daughter of this same Richard of Warley.
Venn also states that Rev. Richard received his B.A. from St. Catherine's College (or Catherine Hall), Cambridge University,
England in 1622/3, was created a Deacon at Peterborough on March. 9, 1622/3, and made a priest on June 3, 1623. As this information was probably taken from College records, it should be authentic.
(According to information on film #057, Latter Day Saints Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Rev. Richard was born 1586 at Yorkshire, England, was 61 years old in 1647 at Hempstead, N.Y. (according to Long Island History), and was married in 1623/4.)
Mr.. Combes states that Rev. Richard's marriage does not appear among those of the Dentons at Halifax, nor is it recorded at Bolton, Lancashire where two of his children were baptized. Probably he was married not long before he became minister at Turton, a small place about four miles north of Bolton. This would put the probable date of his marriage as between 1624 and 1626. The baptismal dates for five of his children are known, two at Bolton, Lancashire and three at Coley, Halifax, from 1627 to 1634. It is know that three of his children, Nathaniel, Samuel, and Daniel, came to the U.S., probably with their parents in 1635. There is no known record of the name of Rev. Richard's wife in this country, though he himself is frequently mentioned, so perhaps he was a widower by the time he came to America.
Rev. Richard was a minister at Turton, later at Coley Chapel, Halifax. He seems to have first preached in the U.S. at Watertown, Mass., about 1635, then at Weathersfield, Conn. at the early settlement of that place. From there he went to Stamford, Conn. in 1641.
(According to Utah records, the New England Register states as early as 1644, Rev. Richard Denton and those who agreed with him decided to try their fortune under the Dutch government, and accordingly, removed and settled at Hempstead, Long Island, New York, where they could be under their own laws and where they allowed all the inhabitants to vote, and made it their duty to do so.)
Although he is referred to as the first minister at Hempstead, N.Y. in a deed at Stamford in 1650, in which he disposed of his property there, he refers to himself as of "Mashpeag" on Long Island. There are two documents at Albany, signed by him, dated from Mashpeag and Middleborough in l650-l. He is said to have preached to the English soldiers at the Fort in New Amsterdam, probably about the time of the Indian troubles in 1643-5.
(According no Thompson's Long Island History, by 1650 the orders to attend church could not be enforced, and his wages had not been paid.)
Rev. Richard was engaged to act as minister at Hempstead in 1658, from a contract on the Town records. About 1659, he is said to have returned to England, taking a church in Essex, at which place he died in 1662/3. Most authorities agree with this date and place. Thompson on says "On the tomb erected to his memory in that place is a Latin inscription... Venn's Cambridge Alumni also agrees, saying he died in 1662 at Hempstead, Essex. Yet, inquiry at that place shows no such tomb there, and it appears that Rev. Richard was not a rector or curate there in 1660 to 1663. However, Hempstead, Essex was strongly Puritan. In the hope that Rev. Richard had left a Will in England, a search was made for the period between 1660 and 1680. It was thought that perhaps the reason for Daniel Denton's trip to England in 1670 was to settle his father's estate, but the records apparently do not show it. It seems strange that historians have been so mistaken about the burial place of Rev. Richard Denton, but there is no stone memorial to him at Hempstead, Essex, England.
Rev. Richard is said to have been Presbyterian, but his services at the earlier churches in New England were of markedly "Independent" or "Congregational" opinion. A comment on Rev. Richard is found in Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi" vol. 1, p. 398 ".... Among these clouds was our pious and learned Mr. Richard Denton of Yorkshire, who, having watered Halifax in England with his fruitful ministry, was then by a tempest tossed into New England, where first at Weathersfield and then at Stamford, his doctrine dropped as the rain, his speech distilled as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. Though he were a little man, yet he had a great soul; his well-accomplished mind, in his lesser body, was as an Iliad in a nutshell. I think he was blind of an eye, yet he was not the least among the seers of Israel; he saw a very considerable portion or those things which eye hath not seen. He was far from cloudy in his conceptions and principles of divinity.
(Children and descendants of Rev. Richard in future issues.)
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