Lora Hunt Jeffries' Indiana Home Page:Information about Richard Denton
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Richard Denton (b. Abt. 1586, d. Abt. 1662)Richard Denton was born Abt. 1586 in Yorkshire, England, and died Abt. 1662 in Essex, England.He married Helen Windblank on November 16, 1611 in St. Saviours, England.
Notes for Richard Denton:
First Presbyterian minister in America (Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church.)
Graduated from Cambridge U. in 1623.
No marriage record found-probably m. abt 1625.
1631-curate at Coley, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England.
Came to America, probably because of religious persecution,between 1635 and 1640-no record.
Cotton Mather gave his life history in one of his books (Magnalia Christi Americana).
1658-returned to England.
Weis-Colonial Clergy-p. 637 -Denton, Rev. Richard.A.B., b. Yorkshire, England 1603; A.B. at St. Catherine's Hall, Cambridge U. 1623/24. Ordained by the Bishop of Peterborough 8 June 1623; Curate at Coley Chapel, Halifax, Yorkshire 1631.Settled Stamford CT 1641-1644; removed 1644; settledHempstead, Long Island, NY 1644-1659; returned to England 1659; died Essex, England 1662/3.
Wightman-Wightman Heritage, p. 25.Richard Denton was a little man, blind in 1 eye, gifted with a speech that captivated his listeners.He was b. in 1586 in Yorkshire, England of a good and reputable family.He completed his A.B. degree at Catherine Hall of the University of Cambridge in 1623.Richard became a minister at Coley Chapel at Halifax in Yorkshire, England where he stayed for 7 years.He aparently lived in Bolton, England with his wife, Helen Windlbank.Their sons, Nathaniel and Timothy, were baptized there.The baptismal records are on record in the parish church.
As Richard Denton was of the Presbyterian faith and therefore a non-conformist minister and a dissenter, he could not accept "The declaration of sports'' and many other acts on the part of the king and bishop......
Excluding even these "meaner sort of people" our Richard's conscience and his small flock could not accept the king's acts in regulating their lives; so in 1630 he gave up his work and, with many of his followers, set sail for America.
There is something suggestive about the year in which he gave up his work in Halifax.In 1629 the Puritans obtained a grant from the king for settlement in New England, and in 1630 fully 1,000 Puritans reached this new country.It was at that time that Gov. John Winthrop arrived in Salem, and in all probability Richard Denton came over with him.
Richard labored first at Watertown, MA, but in 1635, on account of opposition to his Presbyterianism by the Congregationalists of MA, he started a new settlement in CT and gave it the name WEathersfield.In 1641 he became the owner of valuable real estate in Stamford, CT, then in the jurisdiction of New Haven.Again troubles caused his and his little band of followers to move in 1644 to Hempstead, Long Island, NY.He sold his estate to the Rev. John Bishop who succeeded him in the work at Stamford.
Richard Denton was the founder and pastor of this church until 1659.He received a salary of 70 pounds, which was paid in such articles as were most useful and comfortable.The first building, erected in 1648, was sometimes used as a stockade for protection from Indians.The fourth building on the same site was used by the British troops as a stable and barracks.It was burned in 1803.The present building, the sixth, was erected in 1846 and remodeled in 1908.
He is recognized by the Dutch pastors of New Amsterdam, who wrote to the Classis of Amsterdam in 1657:At Hempstead, about 7 Dutch miles from here, there are some Independents of the place who listen attentively to his preaching, but when he began to baptise the children of such parents as are not members of the Church, they sometimes broke out of the Church".
He also ministered to the Puritans in New Amsterdam in an English Puritan Church.This was not a separate church building.They worshiped alongside of the Dutch and the French, in the same building within the fort, and at different hours of service.
Probably Richard Denton had influence in passing a law restricting the activities of the people of Hempstead.This law was written in Dutch in 1650.It is interesting and gratifying to his descendants that the Puritans of New England thought highly of him.Cotton Mather was able to give a description of our illustrious ancestor.He says "Among thoese clouds (meaning the ministers who early came to New England) was one pious and learned Mr. Richard Denton, a Yorkshire man, who, having watered at Halifax, in 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 little body, was an Iliad in a nut shell.I think he was blind of an eye, yet he was not the least among the Seers of Israel; he saw a very considerable protion of those things which eye hath not seen.He was far from cloudy inm his conceptions and principles of divinity, whereof he wrote a system entitled Soliliquia Sacra, so accurately, considering the four-fold state of man, in his created purity, contracted deformity, restored beauty, and celestial glory....
It is not known why he withdrew from the church in Hempstead, Long Island in 1659 to return to England to live in Essex for the balance of his life.He left 4 sons behind him, 2 of whom, Nathaniel and Daniel, established Jamaica, Long Island, NY in the year 1656 and aided in the plantation of Elizabtethtown, NJ in 1664.
The Rev. Richard Denton died in 1662 at the age of 76.His monument bears the following inscription:
Here lies the dust of Richard Denton
O'er his low peaceful grave bends
The perennial cypress, fit emblem
Of his unfading fame.
His bright example, religious light
Shone forth o'er multitudes.
His pure rob'd spirit shines
Like an efulgent star.
More About Richard Denton and Helen Windblank:
Marriage: November 16, 1611, St. Saviours, England.
Children of Richard Denton and Helen Windblank are:
- +Samuel Denton, b. Abt. 1631, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England, d. March 20, 1713/14, Hempstead, Long Island, New York.