Biography of the Denham Family
Bristol County, MA Biographies

Denham Family, The. --- One of the thirty six owners of the town of Dartmouth (1652), which has since been divided into Westport, Dartmouth, New Bedford and Fairhaven, was John Denham (also spelled Dunham and Donham). This John, who arrived at Plymouth before 1633, held several public offices, among which was that of representative. He sold his share in the Dartmouth purchase, and it was not till during the first quarter of the present century that Tilson Denham, sixth in descent from John, moved to New Bedford, with his family, after having lived several years in Rochester, where several of his children were born. Among his children was Tilson Bourne Denham, born April 5, 1813, who carried on the baking business during the palmy days of the whale fishery. He was a member of the State Legislature in 1854 and 1855, and was prominent in politics. The incorporation of the city of New Bedford was largely due to his exertions, he being one of the few who desired it, against the many who preferred the town government. He was instrumental in forming the New Bedford Guards and interested in the fire department, in his youth, and later in life accepted, after much solicitation, the position of captain of the first steam fire engine in the city, temporarily, or till the force of the opposition to this innovation had somewhat declined. His eldest child is Sarah M. B., wife of Andrew H. Potter; his second child is Thomas Mendell Denham, born February 2, 1840, who established the shirt factory in New Bedford in 1868, and who, like his father, is interested in politics, and like the first John has been a member of the State Legislature, 1895-1898. During his term of membership he has served on the prison committee (the same committee his father served on), and has made prisoners and reformations a special study and devoted much time to the study of woman's suffrage. A second son is Giles Leach Denham, now living in Flint, Mich., born October 3, 1842. The third son is Edward Denham, a partner in the shirt business. He was born October 30, 1849, and is an antiquary and member of many historical societies in America and Europe. Cushing's Dictionary of Initials and Pseudonyms calls him "journalist." Besides carrying on a large correspondence with students and specialists who seek his assistance, he has found time to make, for many years, the indexes of the publications of several historical societies, as well as other historical works. His article on the "Man in the Iron Mask" in Frey's Sobriquets and Nicknames has been highly prized both in this country and England. His summer vacations have been spent in traveling with his camera over the localities made famous in American history and the result is a collection of valuable photographs, while as a student he has collected a very large private library which contains some rare books. Desmond, John, collector of customs, is a son of Dennis and Mary (Desmond) Desmond and was born in Fall River, August, 1857. He received his education in the public schools and was first employed in a provision store. He later engaged in that business for himself in Fall River. When the city store department for the relief of the poor was originated in Fall River, during the mayoralty of Dr. John W. Coughlin, Mr. Desmond was elected to the office of superintendent. He remained in that position, doing excellent service, until he was appointed collector of customs for Fall River by President Cleveland in 1895. He has filled this position with great credit. Mr. Desmond was a member of the City Council in 1882 and 1883 from Ward 3.

Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gasette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.

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