The English Home of Mr. Timothy Dalton, B. A. : Philemon Dalton in the Colony

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Section 3

PHILEMON DALTON IN THE COLONY

Of our Hampton Daltons, Philemon and his little family were the earlier immigrants, preceding the others by at least twelve months. They came by the ship Increase, in April or May, 1635. We copy the official record of their "examination" before leaving England,1 as taken by Hotton from the original manuscript in the Augmentation Office, in London:

"XVo Aprilis 1635

"Theis pties [parties] hereafter expressed are to be transported to New-England imbarqued in ye Increase, Robert Lea Mr [master], having taking the Oathes of Allegeance & Supremacie: As also being conformable to the Governmt & discipline of the Church of England whereof they brought testimony p Cert: [by certificates] from ye Justices & Ministers where there abodes have latlie been,2 (vizt)

"Alynnen wev' Philomon Dalton 45 yeres
vxor Hanna Dalton 35 yeres
Samuel Dalton 5½ yeres
Wm. White 14 yeres"

Unluckily for us, it is not stated "where there abodes have latlie been." Some of their fellow-passengers had the advantage of them in this particular. We cannot err, however, in assuming that Dalton's occupation was the same as that of Thomas Chittengden, a man from Wapping, near London, who is described as a "Lynnen wever."3 The boy William White was probably Dalton's servant or apprentice. The wife was, as we see, named "Hanna"; but Mr. Dow calls her "Dorothy."4 Moreover, it is agreed that Dorothy was the name of Philemon's widow, who contracted a second marriage with Godfrey Dearborn after a short season of mourning.5 Miss Lucy E. Dow, the accomplished editor of her father's book, writes to us from Hampton: "Whether his account of Philemon's family was copied from any original document, I do not know; but we have no information here of a wife 'Hanna,' or of Philemon's second marriage." We submit that Hotton's version is the more likely to be correct. It is also a significant fact that Samuel Dalton's first-born child was baptized "Hannah," while the name of "Dorothy" was reserved for the fourteenth. No inference is to be drawn from the silence of the Hampton town-clerk. His books were carelessly kept.6 Nor is it improbable that the death of the first wife and the second marriage occurred elsewhere.

It may be thought that the nature of Philemon's trade should have lent us a clue to his English home; but we have looked for him in vain through many of the recognized haunts of the linen-weavers of that day.

On his arrival here, it is said that he landed in Boston.7 Both Dr. Belknap and John Farmer state that he was made a freeman8 in 1636. It is further said that from Boston he went to Watertown, and thence in the same year to Contentment, afterwards Dedham.9 He was one of the projectors of Contentment, the fourth to sign its covenants, and a petitioner for its incorporation. The charter was granted by the General Court on September 10, 1636, but, fortunately, under the name of Dedham, an ancient town in Essex. We have inquired of Rev. Charles Alfred Jones, the present vicar of that parish, and he assures us that he "can find no trace of any Dalton in its registers prior to 1637; indeed, Dalton is not a Dedham name."

Goodman Dalton10 -- and the title shows that he was one of Governor Winthrop's "common people"11 -- must have brought with him from England some pecuniary means of his own. When the new plantation was organized he made a considerable investment, for speculative purposes, in the vacant lands lying outside the original boundaries.12 It was the first addition to Dedham. At home he had been a linen-weaver, here he held several honorable positions. He had brains as well as money, and was full of energy and business sagacity. He knew how to use men. Dedham speedily became too small a field for him, and therefore he sought opportunities elsewhere. As at Dedham, he was one of the promoters of Hampton; and, as at Dedham, he soon tired of Hampton and its dullness, and removed to the more active and prosperous Ipswich. Death came to him in the last-named town in June, 1662.13 The records of the General Court contain the statement that in May "his son Samuel, a deputy, asks leave to visit him, as mortally wounded by the fall of a tree."14

This son grew to be one of the chief men in the colony. For twelve consecutive years he was a delegate to the General Court, and once a member of Governor Cutts's Council in New Hampshire, besides filling various local offices in his own town and county.

  1. The MS. is entitled, "Passinger wch Passed from ye Port of London, post festum Natalis Christi 1634 vsqe ad festum Na: Christi 1635," and is printed in Hotton's Original Lists, pp. 64, 65.
  2. This was in obedience to an Order of the Privy Council, in December, 1634. -- Gardiner's History of England, VIII, 167.
  3. "The earliest pioneers of independent thought on English soil are thirty weavers in the diocese of Worcester, who were summoned before the Council of Oxford as far back as 1165. Under examination they answered that they were Christians, and reverenced the teachings of the Apostles." -- Brown's Pilgrim Fathers of New England, 17. According to Shakespere, the craft seem to have been addicted to religious melody. Falstaff said: "I would I were a weaver; I could sing psalms or any thing." -- I Henry IV, II, 4, 146.
  4. Dow's History of Hampton, 654.
  5. Mr. Savage says that Dorothy was Philemon Dalton's second wife. -- Genealogical Dictionary, II, 3.
  6. Our fair correspondent, Miss Emily Wilder Leavitt, of Boston, says: "There are two old town-books at Hampton--the battered original and a copy. Not only are the records incomplete, but they are also sadly confused. Events of twenty years apart are often intermingled. One page (now open before me) is for 1642, while its opposite is for 1712. Births, town-lots, dry-cows, ear-marks, marriages, deaths and town-meetings, tumble along together in the most friendly but bewildering manner."
  7. On a single day in June, 1635, eleven ships came into the harbor. -- Winthrop's History, I, 192.
  8. The charter of Massachusetts Bay authorized the increase of the company by the admission of freemen. On May 18, 1631, the General Court ordered that "for time to come noe man shalbe admitted to the freedome of this body polliticke, but such as are members of some of the churches within the lymitts of the same." -- Colonial Records, I, 87.
  9. Worthington's History of Dedham, 31
  10. Roger Williams and Ralph Smith complained that "it was sinfull to call any man good." Winthrop pacified them by saying that it had no more reference to moral goodness than did the crier's call for "good men and true" in an English court-room. -- Goodwin's Pilgrim Republic, 359.
  11. Blood and money had precedence in the Bay colony. Winthrop wrote: "The best part of a community is always the least, and of that best part the wiser part is always the lesser." -- Journal, II, 428.
  12. Dedham Records (reprint), pp. 20, 26, 29.
  13. Farmer's Genealogical Register of the First Settlers says that he died "on 10th November, 1661, leaving three children." Both statements are incorrect. He died June 4, 1662; and Samuel, the boy immigrant, was his only child.
  14. Felt's History of Ipswich, 158.