The English Home of M

r. Timothy Dalton, B. A. : Clues to the English Home

Even the year of Timothy Dalton's immigration has not been determined. In a published listing the arrivals of the early clergy,1 he is put down under 1637; but it is with an interrogation mark. Nor can we find any authority for that date. Little is known of his English life beyond the facts of his graduation from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1613, and his subsequent service as rector of Woolverstone, in Suffolk. One writer has located him at the parish of Wolferton, in Norfolk; and at the outset of our inquiry we spent much time and some money seeking for traces of him in the latter place. We shall no speedily forget our difficulties at Lynn Regis and Norwich, while upon this quest. Then there was a story of his having been deprived of his sacred office, and another of his narrow escape from imprisonment at the hands of the High Commission. We now believe that both stories are without foundation in fact. The statement that he was born about 1577 seems to rest entirely upon the Hampton town-book, which says that he died there in 1661, aged about 84 years.

These scanty fragments of his former life, taken in connection with some of his colonial experiences, yielded the following clues to his English Home, to wit: 1. The East Anglian origin of so many of the Hampton settlers, having special reference to the neighborhood of Great Yarmouth, on the border line between Norfolk and Suffolk. 2. Philomon Dalton's trade of linen-weaving, which was then carried on extensively in the vale of the Waveney.2 3. The neighborhood of Dedham, in Essex, which furnished a name to the new plantation in the colony, whereof the brothers Dalton were among the founders. 4. Timothy's rectorship in Woolverstone, Suffolk. 5. His presentation thereto by Arthur Woolrich, Esq., of the same county. 6. His education at St. John's College, Cambridge. 7. His "cosson"-ship with Henry Boad, who came from Great Stambridge, in Essex. 8. The alleged kinship between Ruth Dalton and George Parkhurst, Sr., and Nathaniel Bacheller and Emanuel Hilliard. 9. The marriage of Deborah Dalton to Jasper Blake. And 10. The friendship between Timothy and Samuel Ward and John Humphrey.

We have followed several of these clues to the end. In no case have we stopped when there seemed to be a reasonable chance of success. The actual money cost of a full search in all the parochial registers forbade it. In Essex there are about 400 parishes, in Suffolk 530, and in Norfolk 750. Sometimes the records do not begin early enough for our purpose; occasionally the older volumes have been lost or stolen. They are often in bad condition, perhaps illegible. Experts do not always agree in their readings of the ancient texts. For a clear exposition of the difficulties attending genealogical studying England, we commend our reader to Mr. Whitmore's Handbook of American Genealogy (Introd., p. xviii), and to Walter Rye's Records and Record Searching (pp. 73-82). When the immigrant deliberately tore himself away from old lines, and no hint is left for the guidance of the modern inquirer, it is very like searching for a needle in a bottle of hay.

The name of Dalton is a common one in England. It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon dal-tun, which means the house (or hamlet) in a valley that is enclosed by a fence or hedge. "Tun" (or "ton") has been made a test-word for distinguishing the sites of Anglo-Saxon settlements.3 We are told that the family had its birthplace in the humble village of Dalden (or Dalton) in Durham.4 There are, however, other Daltons in York, Cumberland, and Lancashire. Our branch of the family tree is not to be found in the Heralds' College. It way be vulgar, but it is respectable. We note the large number of Dalton clerks in Suffolk and Norfolk in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Vicar John was at St. Andrew Ilketshall, Suff., in 1458; and at Flixton, Suff., in 1461;5 both parishes being in the vale of the Waveney. Rector John was at St. Stephens's, in Ipswich, in 1582.6 Nor should be omit to mention Brother Thomas, the monk of Gloucester, who practiced alchemy, and was in a sad predicament when brought before the king and ordered to refill the royal treasury.7

The great chemist John Dalton was born in Cumberland in 1766.8 Michael Dalton, of Werst Wratting, in Cambridgeshire, was a famous Puritan lawyer. He was buried in 1644. The Court of High Commission fined him £2000 for allowing his daughter to marry Sir Giles Allington, her mother's half-brother.9 The vicar of West Wratting, Rev. Clifton Bokenham, advises us that "a small brass in our chancel floor exhibits the names of himself, his two wives, and their children; but I cannot discover any Timothy, Philemon, or Deborah Dalton, either in our registers or among our monuments."

While Timothy Dalton was at Woolverstone, there was a Rector Thomas Dalton at Dalham, about thirty miles distant. He was instituted in June, 1633; but we know not whence he came. His name appears only once in the church books, and then in relation to the baptism of his child. He was an Anglican, and at the time of Timothy's suspension in 1636 probably congratulated himself upon his own escape. The Puritans showed him no mercy when they came into power. He was "forced to Retire from his Living, and Conceal himself for fear if being Seiz'd and Imprision'd; after which they also seiz'd upon all they could find belonging to Mr. Dalton, his Rents, his Debts, and whatsoever they could discover; insomuch that at the last they left him nothing."10

  1. N. E. Host. and Geneal. Register, I, 289.
  2. "The ancient staple manufacture of "Suffolk hampen cloth" is now nearly obsolete, except in the vale of the Waveney, where there are a few flax mills and linen-weavers. -Whute's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk (Ed. Of 1891), p.2. Wodderspoon's Guide to Ipswich, 91.
  3. Nall's Dialect of the East Coast, 448.
  4. Gentlemen's Magazine Library, Topog., IV, 13
  5. Suckling's Hist. and Antiq. of Suffolk, II, pp. 118, 206.
  6. Wodderspoon's Memorials of Ipswich, 383.
  7. Traill's Social England, II, 375.
  8. Roscoe's John Dalton, 35.
  9. Burn's Notices of the Court of High Commission, 571; Lyson's Magna Britannia, pp. 217, 294. The bridegroom was also fined £12,000; and he and his bride did penance at St. Paul's Cross, London, and at the church of St. Mary, in Cambridge.
  10. Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, II, 232.