Details of ROBERT ABERCROMBIE DENTON

Born: 1798

Died: 1857

Source: Chaplains in the HEIC 1805 to 1835 (Rev Frank Perry, The Church In Madras 1904)

Biography: ROBERT ABERCROMBIE DENTON was born in 1798 near London. He was educated at Eton; admitted a Scholar of King's College, Cambridge, 1816; awarded the Betham scholarship in 1817; graduated in honours B.A. 1821, and elected Fellow of King s. He proceeded to M.A. on retirement from the Company's Service in 1839. He was ordained in 1822 and appointed a Chaplain in 1823. He served at Black Town, Madras, 1824 to 1828; Penang 1828 to 1830; Fort St. George 1830 to 1839. On retirement he returned to King's College and was Bursar from 1840 to 1844, when he accepted the college living of Stower Provost with Todbere in the county of Dorset, and married. He died at Stower Provost in 1857, leaving a widow. Denton was at Fort St. George during a critical period in the history of the St. Mary's Vestry Fund. In 1806 the administration of the fund was taken out of the hands of the Vestry by the decision of the High Court, which decreed with legal accuracy that there was no such thing as a Vestry in India. The Government took charge of the fund and asked the Directors how they were to dispose of it. For the next quarter of a century the Government regarded the fund as more or less in Chancery. They doled out sufficient money monthly to pay the establishment of the Church and the school, and to keep the school going as it was, without allowing it either to decrease or increase. Denton respectfully represented the propriety of spending the whole income of the fund on the special objects for which it had been raised, in the same way as had been done in the previous century. The Government were agreeable, but they seem to have been afraid of the new High Court and the lawyers it had brought with it. Denton's representations were referred to the Government of India, and the question was referred home to the law officers of the Company and the Crown. Meanwhile the school buildings on the Fort were repaired out of the fund in 1831; the number of boys was kept up to fifty; St. Mary's Church was repaired at the expense of the fund in 1834; and the establishments of the Church and the school were re-arranged. After some delay Denton's contention was accepted, and the fund has ever since been applied to the objects for which it was got together. Denton was active in all matters connected with the education of Europeans and Eurasians. In this he was following the example of all former Chaplains; all his successors similarly walked in their footsteps. Besides being in charge of the St. Mary's School, he was also in spiritual charge of the Military Male Orphan Asylum at Egmore.