The English Home of Mr. Timothy Dalton, B. A. : Timothy Dalton At College

Our earliest information of Timothy Dalton, in England, is derived from the books of St. John's College, Cambridge. It is there recorded that he matriculated as a student of the college in 1610; and that three years later he was graduated with the regular degree of Bachelor of Arts. If his age at the time of his decease was stated correctly by the town-clerk of Hampton, he must have been over thirty years old when he entered the university. He may, or he may not, have been born in the vicinity. It is at least probable that he came of Puritan stock;1 for it is certain that Puritanism was then rampant in eastern and southeastern England, and that its headquarters were at Cambridge. The inference is obvious, and yet it can be nothing more than an inference. As to his previous occupation, we remark that his brother was a linen-weaver, and that the business of hand-loom weaving was then usually carried on in the cottages of the workmen, all the males of a family being engaged therein. Hence it may be surmised that Timothy was also a linen-weaver, and that he practiced the art until he had determined to obtain an education for the purpose of entering the ministry.

Robert F. Scott, Esq., the senior bursar of St. John's, writes to us that "Mr. Dalton matriculated as a sizar of this college on September 17, 1610. Unfortunately for you, the Register of Admissions does not begin until January 1629-30; and so we have no account of his family or previous residence. I have looked in Calamy's work, of which we have in our library a copy, with MS. notes by Thomas Baker, the historian; but there is no mention of your Mr. Dalton."2

The humble position of Mr. Dalton's family is apparent from the circumstance of his being a sizar3 in college; that is to say, a charity student, rendering menial service in payment for his room board and tuition. There was nothing singular or disgraceful about him. Many men of subsequent distinction obtained their education in the same way. Thomas Hooker, the first pastor of the church at Hartford, Co., was matriculated as a sizar at Queen's College, Camb., in 1603-04, although he afterward became a fellow in another college, from which he was graduated. The great divine Jeremy Taylor was a sizar of Casius, Camb., in 1626; and Sir Isaac Newton held the still lower grade of "sub-sizar" at Trinity, Camb., in 1661. It is supposed that the sub-sizars of Cambridge were somewhat like the "servitors" of Oxford, who wore a distinctive dress as a badge of their inferiority. Oliver Goldsmith was a sizar at Trinity College, Dublin, where, according to Lord Macauley, "the sizars swept the courts; they carried the dinner up to the fellows' table, and changed the plates, and poured out the ale for the ruler of the society."

At that time (1610-13), the University of Cambridge was noted for its Puritanism. The "accord" set by Sir Walter Mildmay in the foundation of Emanuel College, had become a forest.4 All the influences to which the undergraduates were exposed, in their several schools and halls, were in favor of the religio purissima.

It is well explained by Prof. Williston Walker that "so far as a geographical division of England between two parties [Anglican and Reform] may be made, the South and East, especially the vicinity of London and the counties along the North Sea from the Thames to the Humber, may be said to have favored Puritanism. This was the region which had most welcomed Wicklif and his laborers, and where the Reformation had found most ready lodgment at its beginning. It was the region, also, from which the strength of the opposition to the tyranny of the Stuarts was to come, and where no small share of the future settlers of New England had their homes. It was no accident, therefore, that made the more eastern of the two universities -- that of Cambridge -- the home of Puritanism almost from the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, and the training-school not only of the most strenuous Protestantism of the home-land, but also of most of the early New England divines."5 The so-called "Cambridge Agreement", in August, 1629, "to pass the Seas (under God's protection) to inhabit and continue in New England," was probably drawn up and signed within the precincts of the university. That compact was really the inauguration of Massachusetts Bay.

Professor John Fiske reminds us that "while every one of the forty colonies of England was represented in the great Puritan exodus, the East-Anglian counties contributed to it far more than all the rest. Perhaps it would not be out of the way to say that two thirds of the American people who can trace their ancestry to New England might follow it back to East Anglia. . . . The native of Connecticut or Massachusetts who wanders about rural England today finds no part of it so homelike as the cosy villages and smiling fields and quaint market towns as he fares, leisurely and in not too straight a line, from Ipswich toward Hull. Countless little unobtrusive features remind him of home. The very names on the sign-boards over the sleepy shops have an unwontedly familiar look. . . . Hard by, in the little parish church which has stood for perhaps a thousand years, plain enough and bleak enough to suit the taste of the sternest Puritan, he may read upon the cold pavement his own name and the names of his [over-sea] friends and neighbors in startling proximity."6 In the same line of inquiry, Mr. William B. Weeden adds: "This distinctively English stock, bred from the purest strains of German and Scandinavian blood crossed, brought forth the New Englander."7 Mr. Walter White also contributes this pertinent fact: "Besides the traces of Danes and Dutchmen along the eastern shore, a traveler of ready ear will discover many of the words used by New Englanders, and which are not, as is commonly supposed, of Yankee invention."8

One of Archbishop Laud's recent biographers declares, truly enough, that in the Laudian period the see of Norwich "was the most difficult to govern in all England"; but we cannot agree with him when he insinuates that this was due chiefly to commercial reasons.9 No; the inconformity of Norfoldk and Suffolk was a matter of conscience, rather than of buying and selling or moneymaking. It was based upon Tradition as well as upon an up-to-date experience. Foxe, the martyrologist, said that "the Suffolke men are always verie forward in promoting the proceedings of the Gospell." The children did not forget their fathers' sufferings,10 or the indignities to which their own ministers had submitted in the ecclesiastical courts,11 or their personal wrongs under the Conventical Act of 1593.12 Concisely stated by Dr. John Brown, "it was easier to stretch men by the neck, and to burn their books, than to suppress their opinions."13

Do we wonder that under such conditions Timothy Dalton, a graduate of Cambridge and a parish priest in Suffolk, was numbered among the early discontents, or that in the end he sought a resting-place for himself and his family in the wilds of New Hampshire?

  1. For the meaning of the work Puritan, and the uses to which it was applied, consult Campbell's Puritan in Holland, England and America, I, xxvii, 440; II, pp. 237-39; Gardiner's History of England, III, 241; Goodwin's Pilgrim Republic, pp. 12, 13, and notes; and Green's Short History of England, pp. 937-52.
  2. We are not acquainted with Calamy's book, but our impression is that it does not include the earlier inconformists.
  3. The word sizor was probably derived from size, which, in Middle English, was a contraction of assize, "the usual word for an allowance or settled portion of food, etc., doled out for a particular price, or given to a dependent."-Skeat's Etymological Dictionary.
  4. Queen Elizabeth said to Sir Walter Mildmay, after granting him the charter: "I hear you have erected a Puritan foundation"; whereupon he answered: No, madam, but I have set an acorn, which, when it becomes an oak, God alone knows what will be the fruit thereof."
  5. Walker's History of the Congregational Churches of the United States, 18. Dr. John Brown says that of the university men-in number about ninety-who came to Massachusetts, three fourths had been educated at Cambridge.-Pilgrim Fathers of New England, 266.
  6. Fiske's Beginnings of New England, 63.
  7. Weeden's Economic and Social History of New England, 13.
  8. White's Eastern England, I, 4; Nall's Dialect of the East Coast, 479; Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms, Introd., xxvii.
  9. Simpsinson's Life and Times of William Laud, 136.
  10. During the Marian persecution (1554-59) thirty-six persons, including three women, suffered at the stake in Suffolk alone. On the site of Dr. Rowland Taylor's martyrdom in Aldham Common there may be seen to-day an object-lesson in the shape of a rough boulder monument, bearing this strange inscription:
    1555
    D·TAYLOR·IN·DE
    FENDING·THAT
    WAS·GOOD·AT
    THIS·PLAS·LEFT
    HIS·ABODE

    He had been the rector of Hadleigh, which is only ten miles away from Woolverstone. Three years later his curate was burnt at Norwich.-Fuller's Worthies of England, II, 328; Traill's Social England, III, 191; Suffolk Archeology, III, 97; Raven's History of Suffolk, 164.
  11. See Bishop Wren's List of Clergy under Censure in November, 1636-post, under the title: Suspension-Flight-Resignation."
  12. This sternly repressive act was intended for people who should " obstinately refuse to repair to some church . . . to hear divine worship . . . or be present at any unlawful assemblies, conventicles," etc. (35 Elizabeth, cap. I). It filled the prisons at home, and crowded parts of Holland with refugees.
  13. Brown's Pilgrim Fathers of New England, 36.