Denton, Richard (DNB00)

DENTON, RICHARD (1603–1663), divine, was born in 1603 in Yorkshire, and lived at Priestley Green. He took his B.A. degree at Catharine Hall, Cambridge, 1623. He became minister of the chapel of Coley, near Coley Hall, ‘an ancient seat of the tenure commonly called St. John of Jerusalem’ (Oliver Heywood, iv. 9). Here he remained about seven years, when, finding the times hard, the bishops ‘at their height,’ and the ‘Book for Sports on the Sabbath-day’ insupportable, he emigrated with a numerous family to New England. He settled at Wethersfield in 1640, but finding himself in disagreement with other ministers there on the subject of church discipline, he removed to Stamford in 1644, whence he departed not long after to Hempstead, Long Island, where he died in 1663 (Savage, ii. 40). Cotton Mather, in his ‘Magnalia,’ gives a high-flown description of his eloquence and powers of persuasion, which he contrasts with the smallness of his stature and the blindness of one of his eyes. ‘His well-accomplished mind,’ says Mather, ‘in his lesser body was an Iliad in a nutshell.’ The same writer states that Denton wrote a system of divinity entitled ‘Soliloquia Sacra,’ descriptive of the fourfold state, which does not seem to have been published.

[Oliver Heywood's Autobiography, 1885; Savage's Dict. of Settlers in New England; Mather's Magnalia, or Ecclesiastical Hist. of New England, B. iii. 95.]

R. H.