Arthur Dent was born in Melton, Leicestershire and died in Essex. He entered Christ's College, Cambridge in November 1571, and took his BA in 1575 and MA in 1579. In 1577 he was ordained priest. In 1580 he was given the rectorship at South Shoebury, Essex, a living in the gift of Lord Rich. He remained there until his death. There his Puritan scruples soon became manifest. He refused to wear the surplice or to make the sign of the cross when administering baptism. He was one of a group of clergy who, having refused to subscribe to a declaration that there is nothing in the Book of Common Prayer contrary to Scripture, which would have amounted to an admission that the Church of England was perfect and needed no further reform, petitioned the Queen's Council for relief from repressive measures taken against them by the Bishop of London, John Aylmer. Little more is known of his life. He married the sister of two well-known Puritan divines: Ezekiel and Samuel Culverwell. In a memorial at the time of his death, the former describes him as a man of rare grace and humility who offered ‘sweet society’ to those close to him, and who was known also for his fervent piety and the diligence – the ‘extreme and unwearied pains’ that he took in his ministry ‘publicly, and privately at home, and abroad, for at least twenty-four years’.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.