The English Home of MR. Timothy Dalton, B. A. : Parish Registers

Section 13

PARISH REGISTERS

It is again through the kindness of Rev. Mr. Wood, that we have obtained photographic copies of five pages of Woolverstone registers, covering the whole term of Timothy Dalton's incumbency. These facsimiles bring us very near to the Puritan parson, in his "sad-cullared cloathes", almost bridging over the two and a half centuries which have intervened.

From the Wolverstone Register of "Baptizings."

By them we get a glimpse of his surroundings. The parish was a feeble one, yet it contained two gentlemen, namely: "Mr Phillipe Cateline Esqvier" and "Mr Philip Bacon, Esq." There were also the lords of the manor and the patrons of the living. At least two other families maintained servants. Tye majority of the parishioners bore honest English surnames, such as Lambe, Bacon, Goffe (or Gosse or Goose), and Oxborrow. As a rule, the baptismal names were old-fashioned and scriptural. When we encounter a single "fflorenes," we are not surprised to see it plainly that there was a quewstion as to her legitimacy. Indeed, the bar-sinister of "borne in fornication," in two cases, shows that the morals of this suburban parish were below the Puritan standard. It may have been that the shepherd was kept so busy in defending himself against Episcopal aggression, that he had no time for watching the black sheep of his flock.1

In 1622 one of Mr. Dalton's congregation, by name Charlews Paynter, was so unfortunate as to be detected in recovering seven hogshead of wine from the river Orwell, and within the admiralty of Ipswich. His claim that he had found the goods did not prevent the town bailiffs from asking him to pay a little bill of £3 10s. for his imprudence in meddling with the same.2 The incident gives one the idea that some of those Christian people of Woolverstone were engaged in smuggling, or possibly in wrecking.

From the Wolverstone Register of "Burialls."

At this day there is to be seen the painted figure of a cat, in one of the windows of the so-called "Cat House" upon Mr. Berner's estate. Near to the river-bank. Tradition hath it that, in the good old sum-gling days, a pet cat was made to sit in this window when the coast was clear for running in a contraband cargo.3

The simplicity of these memorials of the pastor's work is remarkable. The words are few, abbreviations frequent. Honor is generally paid to the married man, as the head of the family. It is his child, or his wife or widow, which is brought for baptism or burial. Rarely is the name of the mother given, unless she be a "sinner." Once, and only once, is disclosed the name of the "reputed father´of the child of shame. Nor is the age of any defunct stated; it being either a "child" or "the wife" or "an old man" or "an old woman". Yet was Mr. Dalton more gallant than his successor, Johnathan Sluynner, M. A., who did not scruple to describe two elderly ladies as being respectively "an old mayde" and an "ancient mayde."

Rev. Mr. Wood says that the registers, which began in 1538, are in a good state of preservation. He adds that "frim the various handwritings it is evident that the religious services and occasional duties, such as baptizing children and burying the dead, were performed by sectaries and other unqualified per-sons at different periods, especially in the disastrous years of the Rebellion, and under the iron sway of the Commonwealth."

We regret that we can say nothing in praise of Mr. Dalton's chirography, except this, that it is somewhat better than Mr. Skynner's. Several of the local family names, as written by the two parsons, are almost undecipherable, even by professional experts. We give herewith reduced copies of those portions of two pages which contain the "baptizings" and "bvriall" pf two of Mr. Dalton's children, and offer the follow-ing translations of the same:

"BAPTIZINGS."

1617-7. William ye Sonne of Robert George bap. ye 20th of ffebv
8. Samvell ye Sonne of Timothy Dalton minister baptized ye 12th day of march
1618-1. fflorenes a mayd child being borne in fornication of Avic Bishop was Baptized ye 19th of Aprill
2. Rebecca ye davghter of Oliver Andrewes bap. ye 10th of maij, 1618
3. Elizabeth ye davghter of Rich. Cale. bap. ye 7th of Jvnne
4. Dorothei ye davghter of Mr Phillipe Cateline Esqvier bap. ye 2 of Sept.
5. Marie ye davghter of John Bvrch bap ye 5th of november
6. Elizabeth ye davghter of John Goffe bap. ye 26th of december
7. Lydea ye davghter of John miles bap. ye 4th of march
8. Svsann ye davghter of Beniamen Solly bap. ye 14th of march
1619-1. Thomas ye Sonne of Tho. Abbot was bap. ye 13th of maij
2. Debora ye Davghter of Timothy Dalton clerk was bap. ye 3 of Jvnne.
3. Elizabeth ye Davghter of Thomas Pvrdy was bap. ye 17th of ---

"BVRIALLS."
1617-1. Rebecca ye davghter of John miles was bvried ye 9th day of Avgvst
2. The widow Sevell an old woman was bvried ye 11 day of december
3. John Oxborrow a child was bvried ye 21th of ye sam month
4. Richard Symonds an old man bvried ye 21th of Janvary
5. Richard Benett an old man bvried ye 8 day of ffebrvary
6. John Goffe an old man bvried ye 20th day of ye sam month
7. William ye Sonne of Robert George bvried ye 22th day of ye sam
8. Elizabeth Wetheirs a maiden bvried ye 26th day of ye sam month
9. Samvell ye Sonne of timothy Dalton clerk bvried ye 12th day of march
10. Two infants being still borne being ye children of Thomas Pvrdy bvried ye 13th of march
11. The wyfe of Thomas Gvildersleve bvried ye 20th of march
1618-1. Robert Chapman servant to Paynter senior Bvried ye 12th of April
2. The widow Deexe an old woman Bvried ye 19th of April
3. Joan Arnold widdow Bvried ye 26 of maij

Only three of Mr. Dalton's children--namely: Samuel, Deborah, and Timothy--are to be positively identified in the registers; but we also find there the record of the interment of a "Rvth Dalton" who was undoubtedly his daughter. Her age and parentage are not stated, nor is she mentioned in the baptismal list. It is, however, in evidence against him that he omitted to enter the burial of his daughter Deborah at the time of its occurrence. The camera discloses the fact of its being subsequently crowded into its proper position, and how, by reason thereof, the little maiden has passed into history without the usual marginal number to which she was entitled. We append the scanty records concerning the four children, in their order:

1617-8. Samvell ye Sonne of Timothy Dalton minister baptized ye 12th day of march
1619. Deborah ye davghter of Timothy Dalton clerk was bap. ye 3 of Jvnne
1622. Timothie ye Sonne of Timothy Dalton bap. ye 10 of november 1622
1617-9. Samvell ye Sonne of timothy Dalton clerk bvried ye 12th day of march
1624. Debora ye Davghter of Timothy Dalton bvr. ye 9th of maij 1624
1625-4. Rvth Dalton bvrier ye 28 of Avgvst

The elder boy, Samuel, was buried on the same day when he was baptized, as though he had died of a malignant disease; but the younger, Timothy, came with his parents to this country, where he lived until his early manhood. Ruth, the wife and mother, is not mentioned in any part of the records. As her first (?) child, Samuel, was baptized in March, 1617-18, we may infer that she was married after Timothy's settlement as rector, and that the marriage was solemnized in another parish. Nor do the registers include the names of sister Deborah and her husband, Jasper Blake, or any other Blake or Dalton during the first half of the seventeenth century. It is interesting to notice the first-born child was called Samuel, because that was also the name of Philemon Dalton's only son. As the latter was five and a half years old in 1635, there must have been an interval of eleven years between the two children. Again, the name pf Deborah was given to both the minister's sister and his daughter. This suggests that Samuel and Deborah were family names; and it may be discovered by some more fortunate inquirer than ourself that they were the names of Grandfather and Grandmother Dalton.

  1. It is a well-known fact that even on these later days the percentage of illegitimacy is high in East Anglia. See Rev. Dr. Jessop's Aready, p. 25.
  2. Wodderspoon's Memorial of Ipswich, 144.
  3. Pawsey's Ladies Repository for 1892, p. 3.