DENTON, Sir Alexander (1596-1645), of Hillesden, Bucks.
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Family and Education
bap. 21 Mar. 1596,1 1st s. of Sir Thomas Denton* of Hillesden, and Susan, da. of John Temple of Stow, Bucks.2 educ. Christchurch, Oxf. 1612.3 m. 2 Sept. 1617, Mary (bur. 6 Apr. 1641), da. and coh. of Edmund Hampden of Hartwell, Bucks., 1s. 6da.4 kntd. Sept. 1617;5 suc. fa. 1633.6 bur. 5 Jan. 1645.7 sig. Alexander Denton.8
Capt. militia horse, Bucks. by 1628;9 commr. charitable uses, Bucks. 1629-30;10 j.p. Buckingham, Bucks. 1630-at least 1638;11 sheriff, Bucks. 1637-8;12 commr. oyer and terminer, Bucks. 1640,13 array 1642,14 levying of money 1643.15
Nothing is known of Denton’s early years before his admission to Christchurch College, Oxford in October 1612 and his marriage to Mary Hampden in September 1617. He was, however, associated with his father in the family’s estate and problems of indebtedness.16 He appears to have played little part in local affairs before being returned in May 1624 for the newly enfranchised borough of Wendover on the interest of his wife’s family.17 At the following election, in 1625, he was returned for Buckingham, about five miles from his father’s seat at Hillesden, with the backing no doubt of his Temple relatives, who owned the lordship of the town.18 Once at Westminster, Denton neither spoke nor was he appointed to any committees. He again sat for Buckingham in 1626, when he and his father were among those appointed to consider a bill confirming a Chancery decree for dividing a fen between the lords, inhabitants and tenants of manors at Feltwell in Norfolk (6 May).19 Three weeks later, he was given leave to be absent until the Tuesday after the Whitsun adjournment.20 He played no further recorded part in the Parliament, and was not re-elected in 1628.
His father’s sympathetic attitude towards the Benevolence demanded by the Crown later in 1626, and to the subsequent Forced Loan,21 may explain Denton’s appointment by the duke of Buckingham as captain of Buckinghamshire’s troop of horse.22 He became a j.p. for Buckingham in November 1630, perhaps because by then his father was ageing,23 and sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1637, when his performance in collecting Ship Money dissatisfied the Privy Council and his county alike. In the Long Parliament, when he again represented Buckingham, Denton’s political ambivalence and sympathy for Charles I led to his exclusion as a royalist in arms in January 1644, by which time his house at Hillesden had been sacked.24
Denton’s income must have exceeded £1,000 p.a. and may have been higher still, as his father had not only held lands and leases in Buckinghamshire but also in Berkshire, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire.25 On the other hand, some of these properties had been sold by 1633 and more were to follow.26 Despite adopting various financial expedients, Denton remained indebted at his death. He was buried in the war-damaged parish church of Hillesden on 5 Jan. 1645.27 No will is extant. His son John was left to salvage what he could from what he later claimed was a bankrupt inheritance. Various members of the Denton family represented Buckingham and Buckinghamshire in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Christopher Thompson
- 1. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 576; iii. 17.
- 2. Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 38.
- 3. Al. Ox.
- 4. Cent. Bucks. Stud. PR 96/1/1; PR 52/5/1; PR 102/1/1.
- 5. Al. Ox.; F. P. Verney, Mems. of Verney Fam. during Civil War, ii. 189-90.
- 6. PROB 11/164, f. 217r-v.
- 7. Cent. Bucks. Stud. PR 102/1/1.
- 8. Verney, ii. 197.
- 9. Eg. 860, f. 152, undated but before Aug. 1628.
- 10. C93/12/6.
- 11. C181/4, f. 68; 181/5, f. 120v.
- 12. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 9.
- 13. C181/5, f. 169v.
- 14. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 15. A. and O. i. 227.
- 16. PROB 11/164, f. 217r-v; C2/Chas.I/W43/6.
- 17. The indenture recording his return is missing, but see Names of Knights, Citizens, Burgesses for Boroughs and Barons for Ports (1625).
- 18. V. Hodges, ‘Electoral Influence of the Aristocracy, 1604-41’ (Univ. of Columbia Ph.D. thesis, 1977), pp. 172, 277-8.
- 19. Procs. 1626, iii. 155.
- 20. Ibid. 332.
- 21. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 97-8, 163-4, 217.
- 22. Eg. 860, f. 152.
- 23. Verney Pprs. 136-7; Verney, ii. 189.
- 24. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 154-5.
- 25. PROB 11/164, f. 217r-v.
- 26. VCH Oxon. xi. 134; BRL, ms 3061/ACC 1901-003/167512; JRL, RYCH/2217; HLRO, HL/PO/PB/1/1640/16&17C1n34; C2/Chas.I/T45/44; 2/Chas.I/W43/6. For Denton’s indebtedness, see SP23/192/636; Diary of Marches of Royal Army ed. C.E. Long, with supplementary introduction by I. Roy, 20-1.
- 27. Cent. Bucks. Stud. PR 102/1/1.