The English Home of Mr. Timothy Dalton, B. A. : Deborah Blake in Hampton

Of Deborah Blake, the alleged sister of Timothy and Philemon Dalton, we hear nothing until 1649, when her first child, Timothy, was born in Hampton. The town books then describe her as the wife of Jasper Blake.1 She must have been a young woman at that time, having had eleven children afterward. She died at Hampton, December 20, 1678.

As her name does not appear in the passenger-list of the Increase, by which ship Philemon Dalton and his little family came to New England in 1635, it seems probable that she accompanied the clergyman in either 1636 or 1637. This is, of course, based upon the assumption that she was a Dalton. Mr. Dow writes that she "is said to have been a sister of Rev. Timothy and Mr. Philemon Dalton. Certain it is that she was their relative."2 Mr. Dow's daughter kindly advises us in a private letter: "My father was satisfied that Deborah Blake was a sister of the Daltons; but he was too careful to assert it without authority." For ourself, we accept unhesitatingly the ancient tradition that she was their sister. There is no good reason for doubting it, and there is some strong circumstantial testimony in its favor.

Among her twelve children were five with Dalton names, to wit: Timothy, Philemon, Samuel, Dorothy, and Deborah. No similar coincidence is to be found in any other Hampton household of that date. Again, the minister had a daughter Deborah in England, who was born in 1619, and who died in 1624. Thirdly, the minister, in 1567, divided his Hampton farm equally between Deborah Blake's husband and two of Mrs. Dalton's kinsmen. Lastly, the will of Jasper Blake,3 made in 1673, appoints "my cosen [nephew?]. Mr. Samuel Dalton," to be the "overseer" in the settlement of the estate, precisely as the minister had given a pecuniary legacy to "my loving Cosson [nephew] Samuel Dalton"; and his widow, a trunk to the son of the same "cosen [nephew] Samuel Dalton."

No conclusion shall be drawn from the widow's neglect to make testamentary or other provisions for the Blakes. Her liberality seems to have been confined to her own family and friends. Nothing was given by her to any Dalton, except the above mentioned trunk to her grandnephew; and that meager legacy narrowly escaped being an afterthought. The omission of the name "Ruth" in the baptismal list of the Blake children is suggestive; and especially when we remember that Philemon's second wife, Dorothy, had been honored in that manner. Perchance there was a vulgar quarrel between the sisters-in-law, Ruth and Deborah, dating back to the years of Deborah's childhood, as we firmly believe, she was a member of the minister's family in his English parsonage.

  1. Jasper Blake, of Hampton, is described as a "seaman," and again as a "fisherman". Except his unusual name, there is nothing to connect him with the Wimbotsham family of Norfolk. -- Visitation of Norfolk, ii, I.
  2. Dow's History of Hampton, 602.
  3. A Booke of Records for the County of Northefolk in New England, II, ii, 490.