Thomas de Dent

Last updated

Dent, Cumbria, birthplace of Thomas Dent, present day Main Street, Dent.jpg
Dent, Cumbria, birthplace of Thomas Dent, present day

Thomas de Dent, Thomas Dyvelyn, Thomas Denton, or Thomas of Dublin (died after 1361) was an English-born cleric and judge who held high office in Ireland, and was praised as a diligent and hard-working Crown official, who damaged his health through overwork. [1]


He was born at Dent, then in the West Riding of Yorkshire (now in Cumbria), and may have been the son of John de Dent. [2] During his years in Ireland he was sometimes known as Thomas Dyvelyn, which was an early form of "Thomas of Dublin", [3] or as Thomas Denton. [4] He took holy orders, and became a clerk in the Royal service. He is first heard of in 1331 as the defendant in a lawsuit for poaching and trespass at Ingleton, North Yorkshire brought by John, 3rd Lord Mowbray; John de Dent, who was possibly his father, was named as co-defendant. [2]


Lord Mowbray's lawsuit against him in no way impeded his career as a lawyer. He came to Ireland to serve as King's Attorney (the office which was later called Serjeant-at-law) in 1331. He quickly became a trusted member of the Irish administration, and in 1332 was sent to Westminster to report on the crisis which led to the imprisonment of Maurice FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond and others Anglo-Irish nobles. In 1334 he was appointed a justice of the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland). [5] He was transferred to the Court of King's Bench (Ireland) in 1337. He became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1341, as part of a widespread reform of the Irish judiciary, which included the replacement of Irish-born personnel with English judges (this was a common remedy of the English Crown in this era for complaints about the corruption and inefficiency of the Irish government). He later complained that for some time he sat on the Court alone, with no puisne justices to assist him. He had returned to England by 1343, when he served on a Royal Commission at Kendal. In 1347 he was appointed to head a commission of oyer and terminer to investigate the activities of Hugh de Burgh, who was accused of "oppression", i.e. maladministration, as Lord Treasurer of Ireland.

He was appointed Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, then often titled "Chief Justice of the Dublin Bench", [4] and served in that office from 1344–58. [5] In 1345 he received a rather stern communication from King Edward III and his Privy Council, concerning a case of assault brought by Margery Poe against John de la Pulle. John complained that the case had been repeatedly adjourned by Denton's colleagues Simon Fitz-Richard and John Gernoun, "through the intervention of error", to John's great prejudice. [4] Denton was ordered to examine the records and report to the Justiciar of Ireland, so that the Justiciar could take whatever action was necessary to remedy the injustice. [4]

Denton stepped down as Chief Justice of the Pleas in 1358, due according to his own account of his "infirmity". His salary, according to his own petition for payment of it, was seriously in arrears when he retired. [3]

He was granted a lease of the royal manor of Esker, near Lucan in County Dublin in 1351: [2] Esker was often leased out to royal servants who were in high favour with the Crown. In 1355, on his own petition, he was granted a special allowance of £13 for his "great and strange labours" in 1354-5, when he served as Chief Justice without any puisne judges to assist him, injuring his own heath thereby, and for his general diligence in the King's business. [1]

Petition for payment of his salary

He is last heard of in 1361, when he was visiting England. [2] He was still in the King's service, but probably retired soon afterwards. He may have been in some financial distress in his last years, judging by his petition to the English Parliament asking for payment of the sums due to him, which was evidently made shortly after he left office in 1358. According to the petition he was forced to step down as Chief Justice due to ill health, and his fees were now seriously in arrears. He requested that the arrears be paid from the King's Treasury in England, or any other suitable source. [3]

Related Research Articles

The Chief Baron of the Exchequer was the first "baron" of the English Exchequer of Pleas. "In the absence of both the Treasurer of the Exchequer or First Lord of the Treasury, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was he who presided in the equity court and answered the bar i.e. spoke for the court." Practically speaking, he held the most important office of the Exchequer of Pleas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William de Shareshull</span>

Sir William de Shareshull KB (1289/1290–1370) was an English lawyer and Chief Justice of the King's Bench from 26 October 1350 to 5 July 1361. He achieved prominence under the administration of Edward III of England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chief Justice of the Common Pleas for Ireland</span>

The chief justice of the Common Pleas for Ireland was the presiding judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland, which was known in its early years as the Court of Common Bench, or simply as "the Bench", or "the Dublin bench". It was one of the senior courts of common law in Ireland, and was a mirror of the Court of Common Pleas in England. The Court of Common Pleas was one of the "four courts" which sat in the building in Dublin which is still known as the Four Courts, apart from a period in the fourteenth century when it relocated to Carlow, which was thought to be both more central and more secure for the rulers of Norman Ireland.

Sir Thomas Luttrell was a wealthy Anglo-Irish landowner of the sixteenth-century Irish Pale. He was also a distinguished lawyer and judge who held the offices of King's Serjeant, Solicitor General for Ireland and Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Court of Common Pleas (Ireland)</span> Senior court in Ireland (13th–19th centuries)

The Court of Common Pleas was one of the principal courts of common law in Ireland. It was a mirror image of the equivalent court in England. Common Pleas was one of the four courts of justice which gave the Four Courts in Dublin, which is still in use as a courthouse, its name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Bagod</span> Irish judge

Sir Robert Bagod was an Irish judge who was appointed the first Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas in 1276. He built Baggotrath Castle, which was the strongest fortress in Dublin: it was located on present-day Baggot Street in central Dublin. He also founded the Carmelite Friary in Dublin.

Sir Simon Fitz-Richard was an Irish landowner, barrister and judge. He became Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, and fought a long and successful campaign against the efforts of his enemies to remove him from office, despite the numerous accusations of corruption which were made against him.

John Keppock was an Irish judge of the late fourteenth century, who held the offices of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer. He became a political figure of some importance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Godfrey Boate</span>

Godfrey Boate (1673-1722) was an Irish judge: he is mainly remembered now for incurring the enmity of Jonathan Swift, who celebrated Boate's death with the mocking Quibbling Elegy on Judge Boat.

Robert Preston, 1st Baron Gormanston was an Anglo-Irish nobleman, statesman and judge of the fourteenth century. He held several senior judicial offices including, for a brief period, that of Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was the founder of the leading Anglo-Irish Preston family whose titles included Viscount Gormanston and Viscount Tara.

John Gernoun, or Gernon was an Irish landowner, soldier and judge who held office as Serjeant-at-law (Ireland) and Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas. He gave good service to the Crown during the Scottish Invasion, but as a judge, he was accused of injustice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William de Notton</span> Member of the Parliament of England

Sir William de Notton, or Norton was an English landowner and judge, who had a highly successful career in both England and Ireland, culminating in his appointment as Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1361.

William le Petit, Petyt, or Lepetit was an Irish judge who was very briefly Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He is chiefly notable for having been pardoned for homicide.

Richard le Blond was an Irish lawyer and judge of the early fourteenth century. After serving for many years as Serjeant-at-law (Ireland) he was rewarded for his services to the English Crown with a seat on the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland).

William of Bardfield, William de Berdefeld or William de Bardesfeld was an English-born lawyer of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century who enjoyed a successful legal career in England before moving to Ireland, where he was successively Serjeant-at-law (Ireland), justice of the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland), and justice of the Court of the Justiciar of Ireland.

John de Ponz, also called John de Ponte, John Savan, or John of Bridgwater (c.1248-1307) was an English-born administrator, lawyer and judge in the reign of King Edward I. He served in the Royal Household for several years before moving to Ireland, where he practised in the Royal Courts as the King's Serjeant-at-law (Ireland). He later served as a justice in eyre, and then as a justice of the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland). He was clearly a gifted lawyer, but as a judge, he was accused of acting unjustly.

Hugh Canoun, or Hugh Canon was an English-born judge in early fourteenth-century Ireland. He was a justice of the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland) and served as Deputy Justiciar of Ireland. As a judge he was praised for his good and faithful service to the English Crown, and as a lawyer he was known as "a man very knowledgeable about all the King's business". On the other hand, his loyalty to the Crown during the Bruce Invasion of Ireland in 1315-18 was said to be extremely doubtful, although he was apparently saved from disgrace by his influential connections. He was murdered by Andrew de Bermingham of Athenry during the last months of the Bruce Invasion, in the course of a private feud.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nicholas de Snyterby</span> Ireland judge

Nicholas de Snyterby, or Snitterby was a Law Officer and judge in Ireland in the fourteenth century, who held office as King's Serjeant, a Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) and as a justice of the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland).

Sir Peter Mallore, or Mallory was a prominent landowner and local politician in fourteenth-century Northhamptonshire, who also served as a judge in Ireland. His career was marked by controversy: he was imprisoned on at least two occasions, the second time for assaulting another judge. The troubles of his later years were due largely to the actions of his son Giles, who was accused of wasting the inheritance of his infant stepson and ward. Fortunately for his career, Sir Peter enjoyed the personal regard of a number of influential men, notably the Black Prince and King David II of Scotland.

David le Blond was an Irish judge in the reign of King Edward II of England, who was notorious for corruption.



  1. 1 2 Close Roll 29 Edward III 30 July 1355
  2. 1 2 3 4 Ball p.74
  3. 1 2 3 National Archives SC/8/44/2189
  4. 1 2 3 4 Close Roll 19 Edward III 24 November 1345
  5. 1 2 Hart p.167