Dallam, Robert (DNB00)

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DALLAM, ROBERT (1602–1665), organ-builder, a son of Thomas Dallam [q. v.], and, like his father, a member of the Blacksmiths' Company, was born in 1602, probably in London. Between 1624 and 1627 Dallam put up an organ in Durham Cathedral. This instrument remained there until 1687, when Father Smith, after putting in four new stops, sold the chaire organ for 100l. to St. Michael le Belfry's, York, where it remained until 1885, when it was sold to Mr. Bell, organ-builder, of York, for 4l. What became of the great organ is unknown. An unreliable report says that Dallam received 1,000l. for building this instrument, but this is obviously absurd. In July 1632 one Edward Paylor, or Paler, having been fined 1,000l. for incest, the dean and chapter of York petitioned James I that the sum might be paid to them. In November their petition was granted, the king directing that the money should be spent in repairing the minster, setting up a new organ, furnishing the altar, and maintaining a librarian. In March following articles of agreement were entered into between the dean and chapter and Robert Dallam, who is described as ‘of London, Citizen and Blacksmith,’ the latter undertaking to build a great organ for 297l., with 5l. for the expenses of his journey to York, the work to be finished by midsummer 1634. In 1634 Dallam built an organ for Jesus College, Cambridge, at a cost of 200l. In the agreement for this instrument he is called ‘Robert Dallam of Westminster.’ In 1635 he added pedals to this organ for 12l., and in 1638 was paid 5s. for tuning it. It was taken down in 1642–3, but again set up at the Restoration, and was either replaced by a new one or eventually restored beyond recognition by Renatus Harris in 1688. The remains of this organ were given to All Saints Church, Cambridge, in 1790. Dallam is said to have built an organ for St. Paul's Cathedral. He also built one in St. Mary Woolnoth's, but it was so much injured by the fire of London that in 1681 it was replaced by a new instrument by Father Smith, who, however, used some of Dallam's stops. In 1661 he built an organ for New College, Oxford. This was his last work, for he died at Oxford 31 May 1665. He was buried before the west door, leading into the chapel of New College, the stone over his grave bearing the following inscription: ‘Hic jacet Dnus Robertus Dallum Instrumenti Pneumatici (quod vulgo Organum nuncupant) peritissimus Artifex; filius Thomæ Dallum de Dallum in comitat. Lancastriæ, mortuus est ultimo die Maii Anno Domini 1665, ætatis suæ 63. Qui postquam diversas Europæ plagas hac arte (qua præcipue claruit) exornasset, solum hoc tandem, in quo requiescit, cinere suo insignivit.’ In addition to the organs enumerated above, it was probably Robert Dallam who built a small organ for the Music School at Oxford, though Hawkins attributes this instrument to Ralph Dallam. The records of the Blacksmiths' Company for 1623 and 1624 are said to contain several particulars as to this, the most distinguished member of a remarkable family. Unfortunately the minute-book for 1617 to 1625 is at present mislaid or lost.

[Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 428, ii. 589; Crosse's Account of York Music Festivals, p. 134 and Appendix i.; Rimbault and Hopkins's The Organ, 2nd ed.; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, iv. 348, 354, 376; Burney's Hist. of Music, iii. 436–7; Notes and Queries, 2rd ser. iii. 518; Wood's Hist. of Oxford, ed. Gutch (1786), p. 213; the information as to the Durham organ is kindly supplied by the Rev. E. S. Carter and Dr. Armes, and is principally derived from an unpublished letter of Father Smith's in the possession of the latter; Willis and Clark's Hist. of Cambridge, ii. 142, 294.]

W. B. S.