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Denton, Thomas (d.1789) (DNB00)


DENTON, THOMAS (d. 1789), bookseller and artificer, was born in the North Riding of Yorkshire and was originally a tinman. He kept a bookseller's shop in York for some time, and coming to London about 1780 made a speaking figure in imitation of one he had seen. This he showed about the country, and next contrived a writing figure. He is said to have been an amateur chemist, and in 1784 translated from the French ‘Physical Amusements and Diverting Experiments,’ by Signor Giuseppe Pinetti de Wildalle, a conjuror of the day. The book contains tricks in parlour magic of a very elementary kind. Denton made pentagraphs and other mathematical instruments, and carried on the business of silver plating with that of a bookseller's shop in Holborn. He, however, associated with a well-known coiner, and was himself tried for coining. The trial lasted seven hours. He was finally convicted of possessing coining implements, and was hanged before Newgate, with his accomplice, John Jones, and two others, 1 July 1789. He is reported to have been a ‘professed infidel,’ and to have behaved badly, which conduct he ‘continued to the very last.’

[Gent. Mag. lix. pt. ii. pp. 757–8; European Mag. xvi. 86; Annual Register, 1789, p. 217; Timperley's Encyclopædia, p. 764; Knapp and Baldwin's New Newgate Calendar, 1810, vi. 60–63.]

H. R. T.