The English Home of Mr. Timothy Dalton, B. A. : First Complaint Against Dalton

Back to previous section -- Forward to next section -- Return to Table of Contents

Section 15


One of the quick results of the Laudian persecution in the Eastern Counties was the departure of Philemon Dalton, the "lynnen wever," for New Engand, in the spring of 1635. His brother the minister was then under surveillance, having been complained of by Henry Dade, the Commissary of Suffolk, in a letter to the Archbishop, written at Ipswich, and dated February 4, 1633-1634.1 Mr. Dade stated therein that two ships are about to sail from that port with men and provisions for their abiding in New England; that in each ship are appointed to go about six score passengers,2 whom he supposes to be either indebted persons or persons discontented with the government of the Church of England; and that he hears that many more are expected not long after to go, as altogether will amouint to about six hundred. He describes the ill effects of suffering such swarms to go out of Eng-land, that trade will be overthrown, and that persons indebted will flky into New England, and be accounted religious men for leaving the kingdom because they cannot endure the ceremonies of the Church. "Of the breeders of these Mr. Ward, of Ipswich,3 is chief of these parts, who, by preaching against ye contents of ye Booke of Common Prayer, and set prayer, and of a fear of altering our Religion, hath caused this giddiness." Mr. Dade says that he has already exhibited "articles" against Ward in the Court of High Commission, and professes a fear that he must bear the brunt alone, and thereby incur the hatred of Ward's adherents, who are very potent in London and about Ipswich."

The, he continues: Ye cause of my writing I am bold to affirm to your Graces consideration, which is now fitting to move for an order at ye Council Table, to send for Mr Dalton (who is otherwise an honest man) parson of Woluerston by Ipswich, and who is a great stickler for ye transporting of those people that should goe ouer unto Newe England, that ye same Mr Dalton may be inhibited from medling in ye afore-said business; ye voyage to be stayed."

There can be no doubt of Samuel Ward's position and influence. For thirty years he was "prædi-cator," or municipal preacher, of Ipswich. One of his contemporaries called him "the glory" of that town. He had been more than once in collision with the authorities. Thomas Fuller said: Índeed, he had a magnifeck vertue, (as if he had learned it from the Load-stone, in whose qualities he was so knowing,) to attract people's affections."4 Even Mr. Dade bears witness to the number and strength of his adherents. A modern author writes: "He was no mere academic foe; with caricature, we well as with pulpit thunder, he carried the war into the enemy's quarters, heedless of Personal risk: a bold man, with his heart in the right place."5 At this particular time-the winter of 1633-34-he was unusually excited and vehement, on account of the then recent deprivation of his brother Nathaniel, the rector of Stondon Massey, in Essex.6

Mr. Ward was stationed in the ancient church of St. Mary-le-Tower, the official church of the corporation of Ipswich. It was served by two ministers: a curate, chosen and paid by the parishioners, and a lecturer, or "common preacher, appointed and paid by the municipality. The written history of the parish goes back to the Domesday Book. In earlier times the open churchyard was used for "ye Greate Courtes," or town meetings. Pews were provided in the church edifice for ye Bayliffes & Portman," and "ye Twenty fourty" chief constables, who were required to attend in livery on "fower" high festivals in each year, and listen to "fower" occasional sermons from the town preacher. His office was continued until 1835, when the Municipal Reform Act went into operation. Even now the assize sermons are delivered there in the presence of the Mayor, judges, and other dignitaries.7

The two men-Ward and Dalton-were close friends. They were of nearly the same age, and had long been neighbors. In the slang of to-day, Ward was "always ready for a fight." Dalton loved and followed the ways of peace, happy in his village home, removed from the disturbing influences of the eager seaport. He preached the same "Puritan gospel," it is true, but it was in a less offensive form. His parishioners were as orderly and undemonstrative as himself. We have it on the word of a hostile witness that he was "an honest man" in all things, except this "medling in ye aforesaid business" of Puritan colonization; whereby we understand that he had been cautious of speech upon the other mighty questions which vexed both church and state.

Prompt action was necessary if "ye voyyage" was to "be stayed." Prompt action was had. The records of the Privy Council show that a warrant for tying up the two Ipswich vessels was issued immediately, and that, a few days later, similar steps were taken for the detention of ten other ships lying in the Thames and under like charters for Massachusetts Bay. Subsequently all the vessels were released; but it was upon proper security being given by their captains for the good conduct of themselves and their passengers during the voyage. It would seem that the Council then took no steps against Ward and Dalton in relation to the matter. Our correspondent, Mr. Frank J. Burgoyne, the chief librarian of the Tate Central Library in London,8 assures us that "there is no mention of Mr. Dalton by name in the Registers of the Council." But it was not the way of the archbishop to ignore complaints of that kind. The delay of the ships for a fortnight, and until inquiry could be made as to the character of their passengers, was a small thing in comparison with the discipline of the two clerical mischief-makers who were stirring up "this giddiness" among the people of Suffolk. Hence we believe that Mr. Dalton did not escape reproof on this occasion, perhaps "at ye Councill Table," perhaps in the Star Chamber, perhaps in the Consistory Court of his own diocese.

Mr. Burgoyne has copied for us, from the official Register of the Privy Council,9 several paragraphs relating to the detention of these twelve vessels, which will be found of interest, although not having any direct connection with Mr. Dalton:

"At Whytehall the 10th pf ffeb. 1633
Present. The King's most exellent matie
Lo[rd] Ar[ch]Bp of Cant[erbury]
Lo. Keeper
Lo. Ar: Bp of York
Lo. Trea'r [Treasurer]
Lo. Priuie Seale
Ea[rl] Marshall
Lo. Chamb[er]laine
Ea. of Suff[olk]
Ea. of Dorsett
Ea. of Salisbury
Ea. of Carlile
Ea. of Holland
Lo. Cottington
Lo. Newburgh
Mr [Master] of the Wards
Mr Trea'r
Mr Comptroler
Mr L. Chamberlaine
Mr Secre. Coke
Mr Secre. Windebank
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

[Folio 488.} "A ltre [letter] to the Bayliffs & officers of the of the customs of Ipswich.

"Whereas we understand that there is a ship bound for New England, lying within that porte, for the transporting of passengers thither. We have thought good hereby straightly to charge and require you to make stay of the said shipp and not suffer her to proceed upon her intended voyage until you receive further order from this Board. And that you the Bayliffs send upp some fitt person to attend the Board on ffryday next, authorized and instructed to showe unto us upon what grounds or by what warrant or authority the said shipp & passengers goe thither


Whereof you maye not fayle. And so, etc.
"Lo. Trear
Lo. Priuie Seale
Ea. of Dorsett
Lo. Cottington
Mr Secre. Coke
Mr Secre. Windebank."

On the 14th of the same month of February, the Council ordered another warrant to be issued (ib., folio 501): " to have stay made of the several shipps hereafter named, bound for New Engkand, & now lying in the river of Thames, vizt. The Clemt [Clement] & Job, The Reformacon, the True Love, The Elizabeth Bonaventure, The Sunflower [Seaflower?], The Mary and John, The Planter, The Elizabeth and Dorcas, The Hercules of Dover, & another shippe whereof one Barnes is Mr [master."

Further action was taken by the Council on the 21st day of the same month, at a meeting, when the archbishops of both Canterbury and York were present. We quote from folios 503 and 504 of the same volume:

"Whereas the Board being given to understand of the frequent transportation of greate numbers of His Maye"s subjects out of this Kingdome to the Plantation called New England (whom divers persons know to be effected & discontented as well as with the civill as ecclesiasticall gov'mt) are observed to resort thither, whereby much confusions and disorder is already growne there, especially in point of religion, as besides the ruin of the said plantation cannot but highly tend to the scandal both of the Church and State here. And whereas it was informed in particular that there were at this present time divers shipps now in the river of Thames, readie to sett sayle thither, freighted with passengers and provisions."

It was thought fitt and ordered that stay should be forthwith made of the said shipps until further order from the Board, and that the several masters and freighters of the same should attend the Board on Wednesday next, in the afternoon, with a list of the Passengers & provisions in each ship. And that Mr Cradock, a chief Adventurer in that Plantation, now present before the Board, should be required to cause the Letter Patent for that Plantation to be brought to the Board."10

On the last day of the month, the Archbisihop of Canterbury being present, a final order of the Council was made (ib., fols. 508-519) for the release of all the detained vessels, including the two at Ipswich:

"Whereby a warrant, bearing date the VIth [?] of this present, the several shipps following bound for New England, and now lying in the River of Thames, were made stay of until such other order from this Board, vizt. The Clement & Job, The Reformation, The True Love, The Elizabeth Bonadventure, The Sun Flower [Sea Flower?], The Mary and John, The Planter, The Elizabeth & Dorcas, The Hercules & The Neptune.

"Forasmuch as the masters of the said Shipps were this day called before the Board and several Particulars given them in charge to be performed in their said voyage, amongt which the said masters were to enter into severall bonds of One Hundred Pounds apiece to His Mte's use before the Clerk of the Council Attendant, to observe and cause to be duly observed and putt in declaration these articles following, vizt-

"1. That all and every person aboard their Shipps now bound for New England, as aforesaid, that shall blaspheme or profane the holy name of God, be severly punished.

"2. That they cause the prayers contained in the Booke of Common Prayer established in the Church of England to be said daily at the usual hours for Morning and Evening Prayers, and that they cause all persons aboard their Shipps to be present at the same.11

"3. That they do not receive aboard or transport any person that hath not Certificate from the officrs of the port where he is embarqued, that he hath taken both the oath of allegiance and supremacie.

" 4. That upon their return to this Kingdom they certify to the Board the names of all such persons as they shall transport, together with their proceedings in the execution of the aforesaid articles.12 It was therefore and for divers other reasons best known to their Lopps thought fitt, that for this tyme they should be permitted to proceed on their voyage.

"And it was thereupon ordered that Gabriell Marsh, Esqre, Marshall of the Admiralty, and all other his Mate's offic'rs, to whom the said Warrt was directed, should be required upon sight hereof to discharge all and every the said shipps, and suffer them to depart on their intended voyage to New England.

"A like order, Mutatis mutandis, requiring the bailiffs & offc'rs f the Custiomes of the Port of Ipswich to discharge the ffrancis and the Elizabeth, bound likewise for New England and stayed by the warr3 within that Port."

Some have contended that Nathaniel Ward took advantage of this opportunity to make his escape from either London or Ipswich. His name is not found in any passenger-list which has been preserved. Perhaps he sailed under a disguise.13 Perhaps he was hiding below dedkc until his vessel reached the open seas.14 All that can be said positively about the matter is this: we know that he was at Agawam in the colony in the early part of 1634, and that the name of the new plantation was soon thereafter changed to Ipswich, because "of the great honour and kindness done to our people who took shipping there."15

As for Mr. Dalton, he was probably cautioned -- "admonished" was the word -- at that time. We hear no more of him or his troubles until April, 1939; and for some equally mysterious reason the complaint against Samuel Ward, in the Court of the High Commission, was not pressed to a conclusion until November, 1635. It may have been that the two men were indebted to the good nature and forbearance of Richard Corbet, who was then the Bishop of Norwich.16

  1. Calendar of State Papers, Colonial series, 1574-1660, p. 174;and State Papers, Domestic series, vol. 260, fol. 17.
  2. Hotton's Original Lists, pp. 277-82, where are given the names of such passengers as were reported by the captains of the vessels on their return to England.
  3. This was Samuel Ward of Ipswich, the son of John of Haverhill, and the brother of John the younger and Nathaniel, all of them being preachers. Among the grandchildren, seven were either ministers or the wives of ministers.
  4. Fuller's Worthies of England, II, 344.
  5. Raven's History of Suffolk, 204.
  6. Nathaniel Ward was one of the earliest of our American authors. He is known chiefly by his Simple Cobler of Aggavvam; but his most important work was in connection with The Body of Liberties, the first code of laws in Massachusetts, and the basis of all its subsequent legislation.
  7. Wodderspoon's Memorials of Ipswich, 361; Taylor's In and About Ancient Ipswich, 86.
  8. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Burgoyne for what he has done for us in this investigation. If there be any merit in our little book, it is largely owing to his industry, learning, and good judgment.
  9. Register, Vol. IX, fol. 485 et seq.
  10. When Cradock replied that the charter was not in his possession, that Winthrop had taken it with him to New England four years before, he was ordered to send for it at once. The order was received by Winthrop in July. But the charter never went back to England. It was the lawyer's policy of "confession and avoidence".-See Northend's Bay Colony, pp. 267-72.
  11. In Francis Higginson's journal of his voyage in the Talbot across the Atlantic in 1629 it is said that "the shipmaster and his men used every night to set their 8 and 12 o'clock watches with singing a psalm, and "prayer that was not read out of a book.' They constantly served God too, morning and evening, by reading and expounding a chapter, singing, and prayer. The Sabbath also was solemnly kept by preaching twice and catechizing; and in times of great need 'two solemn fasts were observed with gracious effect.'" (Brown's Pilgrim Fathers of New England, 283). When John Cotton made the journey in 1633, he preached or expounded daily in the morning, Mr. Hooker in the afternoon, and Mr.Stone after supper in the evening.-Mather's Magnalia, I, 242.
  12. See Hotton's Original Lists, pp. 277-82.
  13. In the summer of 1635, Mr. Thomas Shepard, the first minister of Cambridge, Mass., assumed for the purpose of emigration the name pf his brother"Jahn Shepard, husbandman"; while a third brother, Samuel, was entered as a "servant" of Mr. Roger Harlakenden.
  14. Such was the experience of Masters John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, and Samuel Stone on board the ship Griffin in 1633.
  15. Savage's Winthrop, I, 137; Felt's History of Ipswich, I.
  16. See, post, under the title: "Suspension-Flight-Resignation."