Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of George Anthony Denison, Archdeacon of Taunton (1805-1896)

George was the fourth surviving son of John Denison (c.1759-1820), who as John Wilkinson had inherited the Ossington estate in Nottinghamshire.

He was part of a close-knit and distinguished family of nine sons and daughters, plus two daughters from his father's previous marriage. His siblings included John Evelyn Denison (1800-1873), later Viscount Ossington, Edward Denison (1801-1854), Bishop of Salisbury, and Sir William T. Denison (1804-1871), colonial governor.

He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church College, Oxford, and by a private tutor, the Rev. Charles Drury. In 1829 he was elected a fellow of Oriel College, and in 1830 gained his M.A.

He was a college tutor at Oriel from 1830 to 1836, but in 1832 was ordained and served as curate of Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire. In 1838 he became vicar of Broadwindsor, Dorset, which was in the gift of his brother Edward, Bishop of Salisbury. In 1845 he moved to East Brent in Somerset, where he remained vicar for the remainder of his life. He became Archdeacon of Taunton in 1851.

Archdeacon Denison was a Tractarian. In 1856 he was prosecuted in the ecclesiastical courts over his doctrinal position on the eucharist (Ditcher v. Denison), winning an appeal against his deprivation in 1858. He was editor of the Church and State Review from 1862 to 1865, and a regular contributor to religious, political and social controversies.

A photographic portrait of the Rev. G.A. Denison is available on the National Portrait Gallery website.


He married in 1838 Georgiana Henley (d 1908). They had no children.

Archive Collections

Two collections held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham relate particularly to G.A. Denison:

  • (Os) Papers of John Evelyn Denison, Viscount Ossington: Includes letters from G.A. Denison to his brother John Evelyn Denison, and a number of printed pamphlets
  • (DL) Papers of Lee and Pemberton, Solicitors (DL): Legal papers, accounts and correspondence concerning trust arrangements involving G.A. Denison and his widow

Other correspondence of G.A. Denison is held in a number of different archive offices and libraries including:

Publications by G.A. Denison

  • G. A. Denison, Notes of my life, 1805-1878 (Oxford, Parker, 1878) [East Midlands Collection Not 340.V38 DEN]

Published Sources

  • J.M. Rigg, 'Denison, George Anthony (1805-1896)', rev. George Herring, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [available online to subscribers,]
  • Bernard Palmer, Reverend Rebels: Five Victorian Clerics and Their Fight against Authority (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 1993) [includes G.A. Denison]
  • Joyce Coombs, George Anthony Denison, the Firebrand, 1805-1896 (London: Church Literature Association, 1984)
  • Louisa Evelyn Denison (ed)., Fifty Years at East Brent: The Letters of George Anthony Denison, 1845-1896, Archdeacon of Taunton (London: John Murray, 1902


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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