1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Denton

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 11:474-75.



THOMAS DENTON, a clergyman who is entitled to a place in this Dictionary, as having been a contributor to the first edition of it, was born at Sebergham, in Cumberland, of an ancient family, in 1724, and was educated under the rev. Josiah Ralph, of whose poems he superintended a handsome edition published by subscription. From school he went to Queen's-college, Oxford, when he took his master's degree June 16, 1752. On leaving college, he became curate to the rev. Dr. Graham, of Netherby, at Arthuret, and Kirkandrews; and here he printed a local poem, entitled Gariston, which is now scarce, as he only circulated a few copies among his friends. In 1753, Dr. Graham removed him to be his curate at Ashted, in Surrey, in which living, upon the doctor's resignation, Mr. Denton succeeded him. He died here June 27, 1777, leaving three sons and four daughters. As he had had no opportunity to make much provision for this family, the late lord Suffolk generously gave his widow the next presentation to the living, which bounty was so well managed by a judicious friend, as to secure a very comfortable annuity to her and her children. Mr. Denton was a man of unassuming, modest manners; serene and placid, rather than cheerful; and a facetious man, rather than a man of humour. In discharging the duties of his profession, he was exemplarily decent, and his parishioners loved him when living, and lamented him dead. Early in life he reformed, and published a very useful manual of devotions, entitled Religious retirement for one day in every month, from the original of Gother, a popish writer. This he undertook "to free from the peculiarities of the Romish church, and to fit it for the use of Protestants." He is, however, better known by two well-written poems, Immortality, or the Consolation of human life, a Monody, printed separately in 4to, 1755, and afterwards reprinted in Dodsley's Collection; and The House of Superstition, a vision, 1762, 4to, afterwards prefixed by Mr Gilpin to his Lives of the Reformers. In both he has proved himself no unsuccessful imitator of the style of Spenser. He also compiled the supplemental volume to the first edition of the Biographical Dictionary, in which the lives are given with equal candour and accuracy.