Captain James Dalton and his Family - Early Boston Resident
Researched, complied & edited by Rodney G. Dalton from various World Wide Web resources.
Captain James Dalton was a shipmaster involved in the West Indian and European trade. His sons were sent out with the vessels as captains and supercargoes. Richard was drowned in the West Indies in 1769. Peter Roe Dalton (1743-1811) became a merchant and supplied the Continental troops in Boston with provisions during the Revolution. Later he was a banker and first cashier of the local branch of the Bank of the United States.
Captain James Dalton, who was born in 1718, was the first of his family to settle in Boston. Whether or not he was descended from the Daltons who emigrated to this country in 1635, and whose principal home in the seventeenth century was at Hampton, New Hampshire, I have been unable to discover: the probabilities on the whole seem to point in this direction. From his early youth James Dalton was engaged in seafaring pursuits. In 1740 he was commander of the brigantine " Joshua," trading from Boston to London, and later became the owner of various vessels, voyaging along the coast to the Carolinas, West Indies, and sometimes to Europe. In 1756 he purchased an estate in Boston on the south side of Water Street, which contained a tan yard, garden, dwelling-house, and other buildings. These he pulled down and in 1758 built upon the property a Mansion Housel which was occupied by himself and family during the remainder of his life and afterwards by his son, Peter Roe Dalton. After the " great fire" of 1760, when this part of the town was rebuilt, a committee of the General Court ordered a new street, running from Milk to Water Street, to be laid out through the estate in such a way as to divide it very unequally and render the smaller part unavailable for building purposes. A memorial addressed by Captain Dalton to the General Court resulted in moving the site of the proposed street further west, so that it divided the estate more equally, and in consideration of this Captain Dalton agreed not to require any compensation for the portion of his land occupied by the new street, which was known as " Dalton's Lane" and "Dalton's Street" until the year 1800, when its name was changed to Congress Street.
Captain Dalton was one of the proprietors of King's Chapel at the time of its rebuilding, and owned at various times pews 26, 40, 53, 58, and 98. He married January 24, 1740, Abigail, daughter of Peter Roe, a resident of Boston, and widow of Judah Alden. He died April 21, 1783. He is described as " prudent, but energetic and successful in business, persevering, liberal and public-spirited, courteous to his associates, and of a kindly disposition."
Of his ten children the second (and oldest son), Peter Roe Dalton, was born in 1743 and died in 1811. In his youth he followed his father's calling and went to sea. The similarity between his character, tastes, and career and those of his grandson, the subject of this memoir, is too striking to be passed over without comment. During the American Revolution he was Deputy Commissary-General of Issues in the Continental service, receiving and distributing provisions of all kinds to the troops stationed at Boston, to the prisoners of war confined in the harbor, and to the French fleet under the Count d'Estaing. In 1782 he was appointed by the General Court of Massachusetts one of a committee to settle the accounts of the Board of War of that State, and to examine and certify all claims against the State arising from losses in the Penobscot expedition of 1779. He was connected with several financial and commercial organizations in Boston, and frequently acted as executor and administrator. He is described as "a man of great activity and devotion to business, and capable of managing large interests. He was prompt to detect and thwart any attempt at gaining undue advantage and decided, though polite in his manner of doing so. He was fond of generous living, and accustomed to make ample provision for his bodily comfort, but was never excessive in any personal indulgence." Mutatis mutandis, this portrait, both of character and occupations, will be found to fit his grandson equally well.
Peter Roe Dalton was twice married. His first wife, Susannah Griggs, bore him four children, of whom one, a daughter, survived; his second, Anne Call, bore him eleven, of whom the tenth was the father of the subject of this memoir. John Call Dalton's distinguished career as a physician in Chelmsford, Lowell, and Boston, and in the Civil War does not need description here. Suffice it to say that he was the ideal doctor of the old school, of the days before the practice of medicine had become highly specialized, and one who was able by his sterling character as well as his professional attainments to render priceless service to the community where he lived.
The earliest record of Captain James Dalton is found in a manuscript diary kept by himself and begun in the year 1736. Captain Dalton has written various entries and memoranda of the arrivals, departures, and discharges of cargo at Savannah in 1736, Charleston in 1737, and later at East Cowes and other ports. At this early day, therefore, we know definitely that he was already engaged in seafaring pursuits. A few years later he was commander of the brigantine “Joshua,” trading between Boston and London, as appears by a letter of instructions from the owners, Henderson & Hughes, dated 1740 and directed to him. Captain Dalton at this time was a resident of Boston, but it is not known how long he had lived here, or where he had previously resided. In 1740 he married Abigail, daughter of Peter Roe, who was also a resident of Boston, as shown by the Registry of Marriages of King’s Chapel of that date. She had previously married Judah Alden, but her husband died very soon after their marriage. Captain Dalton continued to go to sea as ship-master, sometimes acting also as consignee of the cargoes. He later became the owner of various vessels, and finally abandoned his seafaring life, taking up his residence permanently in Boston. He then carried on a mercantile and shipping business, trading with Philadelphia, North and South Carolina, the West Indies, and the Northern British-American Provinces. From the years 1760 to 1770 he frequently sent his sons, Peter Roe and Richard, as supercargoes on these voyages.
In 1756 he purchased an estate in Boston, lying on Water Street, between Water and Milk Streets, which was then occupied by a tan yard, garden, a dwelling-house and other buildings. These buildings he pulled down, and in 1758 built upon the property a Mansion House, as shown in the picture on the opposite page, which was occupied by himself and family during the remainder of his life, and afterward by his son, Peter Roe. The house stood with its northern end toward Water Street, and its front to the eastward. Soon after its completion a new street, now Congress Street, was ordered by a committee of the General Court to be laid out through the estate, running from Water to Milk Street. This was made necessary owing to the rebuilding of that part of the town, after the “Great Fire” of 1760. The projected street was partly a re-establishment of the old “Leverett’s Lane,” which ran from King Street (now State Street) to about the middle of Water Street, and which was then ordered to be continued through the intervening land, from Water Street in a southerly direction to Milk Street. The new portion of the street was to pass through Captain Dalton’s land, east of his dwelling-house, in such a manner as to divide it very unequally, leaving on its eastern side so narrow a strip as to destroy its value for building purposes. In December, 1761, Captain Dalton addressed a Memorial to the General Court, setting forth these facts, and asking that the location of the new Street, between Water and Milk Streets, might be altered and moved farther to the westward, so as to leave a good width of land on each side of it, and at the same time to make it join Milk Street at a point opposite the head of Atkinson Street. In order to accomplish this, Captain Dalton entered into an obligation with the Town Treasurer, not to require any compensation for his land occupied by the new street, provided it were run as he desired, and he also made an agreement with Francis Borland, one of the abutters, to make good any loss he might suffer by the proposed alteration. The change was accordingly made, and James Dalton’s estate then consisted of land lying on both sides of the new street. That portion lying to the westward contained his Mansion House, with an enclosed space in front, while that on the eastern side was soon built over with houses and shops, which were rented to various persons. The street thus laid out, at first known as the “New Street,” was afterward called “Dalton’s Lane” and “Dalton Street,” until the year 1800, when its name was changed to “Congress Street.”
Captain Dalton also owned real estate in Oliver Street, “Board Alley,” now Hawley Street, Joliffe’s Lane, now Devonshire Street, and Marlborough Street, now Washington Street.
He was prudent but energetic and successful in business, persevering, liberal, and public-spirited, courteous to his associates, and of a kindly disposition. He had ten children, dying on April 21, 1783, at the age of sixty-five. The Mansion House and its enclosure became the property of Peter Roe Dalton, while the remainder of the estate on Congress and Water Streets passed into the hands of his four sisters and their heirs.
The Domestic Sale of Slaves
Many families of means in colonial Boston owned slaves, and even ordinary tradesmen kept slaves as well as indentured servants to help with their businesses. Slave transactions were completed with regular bills of sale, and were witnessed, signed, and recorded like the sale of other property, such as real estate. The average price for a slave in the seventeenth century was between £20 and £30 sterling; in the eighteenth century it was higher, and varied, but averaged about £40 to £50 sterling (Greene, 318). Typical bills of sale for slaves are Andrew Boyd to John Chandler for the slave Dinah (1769), Malachy Salter, Jr. to Capt. James Dalton for a slave (1749), General John Fellows to Theodore Sedgwick for the slave Ton (1777), Isaac Powers to John Hancock for the slave Jack (1728), Nathaniel Brown to Elizabeth Cabot for the slave Phillis (1768), William Waitt to James Dalton for the slave Peter (1747), and William Richardson to James Dolbeare for the slave Loran (1732).
In some cases, sales agreements of African Americans contained special clauses or variations. Patience Hatch sold her "half-ownership" of a slave boy named Salathiel to Silvanus Hatch in 1760. James Dalton paid Ezekiel Lewis Jr. $40 plus a slave named Prince in 1750, for Lewis's slave named Pompey. Dr. Joseph Warren purchased a slave from Joshua Green in 1770, paying £30 and promising £10 worth of "potters ware" within three months if the slave proved satisfactory.
This deed documents the sale of a slave named Peter, from William Waitt to James Dalton, 29 July 1747. Dalton, who died in 1783, was a well-to-do shipmaster who settled in Boston and engaged in shipping, real estate, and mercantile pursuits. The present-day Congress Street in Boston was previously known as Dalton Street, where his residence was located.
This is a receipt for the sale of a slave boy from Malachy Salter, Jr. to Captain James Dalton, 14 November 1749. Dalton, who died in 1783, was a well-to-do shipmaster who settled in Boston and engaged in shipping, real estate, and mercantile pursuits. The present-day Congress Street in Boston was previously known as Dalton Street, where his residence was located.
This is a receipt for the exchange of slaves between James Dalton and Ezekiel Lewis, Jr., 25 April 1750. Dalton, who died in 1783, was a well-to-do shipmaster who settled in Boston and engaged in shipping, real estate, and mercantile pursuits. The present-day Congress Street in Boston was previously known as Dalton Street, where his residence was located.
The Dalton house stood on Dalton’s row or lane, which extended from Water to Milk Street, and was called Dalton’s Lane from 1769 until 1788, when it was called Dalton Street, in honor of Mr. Dalton, a custom commonly followed in the early days of the town.
The below story about Captain James Dalton was reported from Daltons in History,
Volume 2, No 12, December 1999 issue.
The following account of Captain James was submitted by Mrs. Eliot Dalton (Marie H. Dalton).
Excerpts are taken from "A Christmas Eve Story" of 1904 written by a descendent of the Captain, Charles Henry Dalton, and told to his children on Christmas Eve.
"I now present to you your paternal great, great grandfather, Captain James Dalton, mariner and merchant of Boston, then a town of about thirteen thousand persons, who was born over one hundred and eighty-six years ago, in the reign of George the First, King of England; was fourteen years old when Washington was born and fifty-one when Napoleon first opened his eyes. You are, therefore, by inheritance, both farmers and sailors.
The earliest record of Captain Dalton is found in a diary kept by himself and begun in the year 1736. In a manuscript book of over 70 pages of foolscap, containing elaborate diagrams and calculations in geometry, trigonometry and navigation, including astronomical problems, the finding of latitude and longitude, Mercator's sailings, currents, tides, etc. in his own handwriting, entitled 'James Dalton - His Book', August 1736. I think you will agree with me that it is a creditable production for a lad of eighteen, containing a record of the science of navigation as known and practiced at the time... Captain Dalton has written various entries and memoranda of the arrivals and departures and discharges of cargo at Savannah, GA in 1736, Charleston, SC in 1737, and later at East Cowes and other ports.
Another note of interest in his book reveals that in 1740, when 22 years old, he made his first voyage as a captain, commanding the Brigantine Joshua, bound for London, a responsible post for a young man. His orders from the owners of the ship, Henderson & Hughes, were to --embrace to first wind and to make the best of your way to London, speaking no vessels in your passage, nor putting into any port if you can avoid it, and when, please God, you arrive in London you are to apply yourself to Messers. Channing & Brent.. Also you will be careful of your rigging and sails, and frugal in your possessions, there being nothing got without saving, and, as times are, frugality and industry is the whole we can expect, and we doubt not off from you, these things will always oblige us who are your friends, etc. This command gave him the title of captain which he retained during life. ---I have not doubt that these boys had their full fun of competition with their fellows, and enjoyed themselves with the girls as heartily as any of the young folks today; but I feel sure that Captain James never felt prouder when, at twenty-two, he sailed down the Boston harbor, standing on the quarter deck, in command of the good brigantine Joshua bound for London. He reached the Isle of Wight in forty-five days, after a boisterous voyage."
In 1740 he married Abigail, daughter of Peter Roe, who was also a resident of Boston, as shown on the Registry of Marriages of King's Chapel of that date. She had previously married Judah Alden, but her husband died very soon after their marriage. Captain Dalton continued to go to sea as ship-master, sometimes acting also as a consignee of the cargoes. He later became the owner of various vessels and finally abandoned his seafaring life, taking up his residence permanently in Boston. He then carried on a mercantile and shipping business, trading with Philadelphia, North and South Carolina, the West Indies, and the Northern British-American Provinces.
"Perhaps you will be surprised, and possibly scandalized to learn that Captain James was a slaveholder, but I must tell you the truth at any cost to your sensibilities.. It was the custom of many Boston families to own their own negro household and personal servants. I find among Captain James' papers sundry deeds of the purchase and sale of slaves, drawn on printed legal forms very similar to those used in the transfer of real estate. For example, he bought James Brown's negro man Lys, twenty-five years old, for 45 pounds; Gideon Thayer's slave boy Caesar for 34 pounds (the witnesses to this deed are his wife Abigail and his daughter, Mary); Wm. White's negro boy Bob, fifteen years old, for 13 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence. The captain exchanged his negro boy Prince, for Ezekiel Lewis' boy Pompey, thus getting an emperor for a prince. A man in those days bought a slave just as he would a horse if he was in want of either article. Contrary to popular belief, Massachusetts, even after independence, never abolished slavery by act of the Legislature.
In my early days in Boston there was a well known white-haired dark complexioned waiter, named Dalton, who was employed at private parties with who, by reason of our common name, I was on friendly terms; he has found me a bottle of champagne even after it had all gone ---for others. It is not unlikely that this old trained house servant may have been a descendent of the good captain's slaves.
Captain Dalton was one of the proprietors of King's Chapel at the time of the rebuilding of the Church in 1754 when he purchased Pew no.98, which he exchanged for Pew no. 40 in 1756 and which he held until about 1780, and then held Pew no.26. He also owned, in 1754 and 1772, Pews no. 53 and 58. He was executor to the will of his father-in-law, Peter Roe, who died in 1751, and frequently acted under Power of Attorney and as administrator for other shipmasters and sailors.
From the years 1760-1770, he often sent his sons, Peter Roe and Richard, as supercargoes on these voyages. In 1756 he purchased an estate in Boston, lying on Water Street, between Water and Milk Streets, which was then occupied by a tan yard, garden, dwelling house and other buildings. These buildings he pulled down and in 1758 built upon the property a Mansion House which was occupied by himself and family during the remainder of his life, and afterward by his son, Peter Roe.
The house stood with its northern end towards Water Street and its front to the eastward. Soon after its completion a new street, now Congress Street, was ordered by a committee of the General Court to be laid out through the estate, running from Water to Milk Street. This was made necessary owing to the rebuilding of that part of town after the "Great Fire" of 1760. After negotiations, the change was made and James Dalton's estate then consisted of land lying on both sides of the new street. That portion to the westward contained the Mansion House, with an enclosed space in front, while that on the eastern side was soon built over with houses and shops which were rented to various persons. The street thus laid out, at first known as the 'New Street' was afterward called 'Dalton's Lane and Dalton Street' until 1800, when its name was changed to Congress Street.
Captain Dalton also owned real estate in Oliver Street, 'Board Alley', now Hawley Street; Joliffe's Lane, now Devonshire St.; and Marlborough St. now Washington. He was prudent but energetic in business, persevering, liberal and public-spirited, courteous to his associates and of a kindly disposition. He had ten children and died on April 21, 1873, at the age of 65.
The most interesting part of my story occurred during the occupation of Boston by King George's troops, and its investment by the Continental Army, under Washington. In the winter of 1775-76, the British soldiers demolished one church, many private buildings, fences, etc. using the material for fuel. Among the victims was Captain James. There is in my possession a document dated 1775, entitled 'An Account of the Damages James Dalton has Suffered by the King's Troops', giving an itemized schedule of his properties taken, amounting to several hundreds of pounds. When peace was declared he made a demand for compensation for these damages. I do not find that this righteous claim has ever been settled. Undoubtedly it is as good an asset today as ever, and will amount with interest to several millions of dollars".
Peter Roe Dalton I: 1743-1811. Banker in Boston.
Peter Roe Dalton, son of James was a sea captain, later a merchant who supplied Continental troops in Boston during Revolutionary War, later a banker and first cashier in the local branch of the Bank of the United States.
In Massachusetts, subscriptions were initially accepted at the Massachusetts Bank. The Boston branch of the Bank of the United States took over this role when it was established in 1792. Four Boston branch board members—Peter Roe Dalton, Christopher Gore, Jonathan Mason, Jr., and Thomas Russell—had previously served on the Massachusetts Bank board. Dalton, who served as cashier of the Boston branch for nearly twenty years, formerly held the same position at the Massachusetts Bank. These relationships helped the Boston branch to avoid the adversarial relationship with the Massachusetts Bank that other branches had with their state banks.
In the Massachusetts Register and United States Calendar for the Year of our Lord 1811, there contains a handwritten page relating to the death of Peter Roe Dalton I. And in the Boston, Almanac for August and September there is one-page record of grandson of Peter Roe Dalton, reporting attack of cramps and cholera on the old man, and death on Sunday, Sept. 8th, 1811.
His will was dated June 16, 1810, and probated Sept. 16, 1811; his son Peter Roe Dalton II took the mansion house.
John Call Dalton Sr., Grandson of Captain James Dalton:
John Call Dalton, b. May 30, 1795; bapt. Oct. 8, 1797; m. Feb, 21, 1822, Julia Ann, dau. of Noah and Anne (Parker) Spalding, who was b. in Chelmsford, May 16, 1802, and d. at Lowell, Aug. 10. 1846; he m. (2) Oct. 15, 1850, Lydia, dau. of John and Lydia (Gorham) Phillips, who was b. in Charlestown, Apr. 12, 1804, and d. Andover, Apr. 23, 1874
He entered Harvard College in 1810, where he acquired scholarly tastes which he retained through life. He received his degree of M. D. from Cambridge in 1818.
Dr. Dalton lived while in Chelmsford at what is now called the "syndicate farm," the home of Simeon Spaulding, whose granddaughter he married. He was a gentleman of accomplished manners and an ardent lover of his profession.
After thirteen years' practice he removed to Lowell, in 1831. During his residence of nearly thirty years in that city he occupied an honored position both as a physician and citizen.
John C. Dalton, Sr., was over sixty-six years of age on the outbreak of the war, yet he worked unceasingly as a member of the Sanitary Commission, as well as in other departments which gave him opportunities. Once he happened to be present on the arrival of two hundred wounded men in the steamer "Daniel Webster," at Boston, and immediately offered his services to the Surgeon General. "He actually rode up State Street in an open ambulance at the head of the column on its way to the hospital, while many a young man has turned away in disgust from the service because he disliked his assigned position at some capital operation." So spoke Governor Andrew publicly on hearing of this spontaneous outbreak of patriotic zeal in one of the State's oldest and best physicians. He died in Boston, Jan. 9, 1864.
Besides John Call Dalton, Jr., the old man had three other sons in the service, one in the civil department, one in the military, and one other in the medical,—the last, Edward Barry Dalton. This son was graduated from Harvard College in 1855, and received his M. D. in 1858 at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was an Instructor at the Harvard Medical School in 1871-72, when on account of ill health he resigned. After the war he went to New York. There his rare executive ability brought order out of chaos in the Health Department of that city, and as Sanitary Commissioner he inaugurated reforms which did much for the health & welfare of that city
Dr. John Call Dalton Jr.
John Call Dalton Jr., physiologist, born in Chehnsford, Massachusetts, 2 February 1825. He was graduated at Harvard in 1844, and at the medical department of that University in 1847. His attention was at once directed to physiology, and in 1851 he obtained the annual prize offered by the American medical association by his essay on "Corpus Luteum." Subsequently his researches on the anatomy of the placenta, the physiology of the cerebellum, intestinal digestion, and other experimental observations, embodied in his treatise on physiology, gained for him a reputation as one of the first of modern physiologists. He became professor of physiology in the medical department of the University of Buffalo, and was the first in the United States to teach that subject with illustrations by experiments on animals. This chair he resigned in 1854, and accepted a similar professorship in the Vermont medical College in Woodstock, where he remained until 1856. From 1859 till 1861 he filled the chair of physiology in the Long Island College hospital in Brooklyn. During the winter of 1854-'5 he lectured on physiology at the College of physicians and surgeons, New York, temporarily filling the place of Dr. Alonzo Clark. In 1855 he was elected to that professorship, which he continued to fill until his resignation in 1883. In 1884 he again succeeded Dr. Clark as president of the College of physicians and surgeons.
During the civil war he was a surgeon in the national service, going to Washington in 1861 in that capacity with the 7th New York regiment. Subsequently he was appointed surgeon of volunteers, and held important offices in the medical corps until his resignation in March 1864.
Go here to read about Doc. John Call Dalton's service record: http://ia301542.us.archive.org/1/items/johncalldaltonmd00dalt/johncalldaltonmd00dalt.pdf
Dr. Dalton has been an active member of many medical societies, and held prominent offices in them. In 1864 he was elected a member of the National academy of sciences. His contributions to the literature of physiology have been numerous since 1851. He has published articles in the "American Journal of the Medical Sciences," the "Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences," the "American Medical Monthly," and other medical journals in New York; and also many valuable articles in his specialties in the American and other cyclopedias. He has published in book-form "A Treatise on Human Physiology" (New York, 1859; 6th ed., 1882);" A Treatise on Physiology and Hygiene for Schools, Families, and Colleges" (1868); "The Experimental Method of Medicine" (1882); "Doctrines of the Circulation" (1884); and "Topographical Anatomy of the Brain" (1885).
His brother, Edward Barry Dalton, physician, born in Lowell, Massachusetts, 21 September 1834 died in Santa Barbara, California, 13 May 1872, was graduated at Harvard in 1855, and at the College of physicians and surgeons, New York, in 1858. Dr. Dalton then settled in New York, and was resident physician of St. Luke's hospital when the civil war began. He at once volunteered as a surgeon, and served from April 1861, till May 1865. At first he was a medical officer in the navy, after which he was commissioned surgeon of the 36th New York volunteers, and subsequently surgeon of U. S. volunteers, serving as medical inspector of the 6th army corps, and as medical director of the Department of Virginia. In March 1864, he was transferred to the Army of the Potomac, where he remained throughout the campaign of that year, from the Wilderness to City Point, having charge of all the wounded, and establishing and moving the hospitals. At City Point he was made chief medical officer of the depot field-hospitals, Army of the Potomac, till the final campaign in March and April 1865, when he accompanied the troops as medical director of the 9th army corps. After his discharge he was successively appointed brevet lieutenant colonel and colonel of volunteers.
In March 1866, he was appointed sanitary superintendent of the New York metropolitan board of health, in which office he remained until his resignation in January 1869. In 1869 he originated the present City ambulance system for the transportation of the sick and injured. His health had then begun to fail, and, after trying various resorts, he finally visited California, where he died from consumption. He published papers on "The Disorder known as Bronzed Skin, or Disease of the Supra-renal Capsules" (1860); "The Metropolitan Board of Health" (1868); and "Reports of the Sanitary Superintendent of the Metropolitan Board of Health" from 1866 till 1869.