Dallam, Thomas (DNB00)

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DALLAM, THOMAS (fl. 1615), the eldest member of the great family of English organ-builders, was a native of Dallam, a hamlet in Lancashire, not far from Warrington. The date of his birth is unknown, but he must have come at an early age to London, where he was apprenticed to a member of the Blacksmiths' Company, of which he was in due course admitted a liveryman. The blacksmith's craft at that time exercised a supervision over many industries, and Dallam was probably apprenticed to an organ-builder. The first organ of which there is record of his having built himself is that of King's College, Cambridge—at least it is always assumed that this instrument is the work of Thomas Dallam, though in the accounts relating to it the builder's christian name is nowhere mentioned. Dallam and his men came to Cambridge and began work on 22 June 1605. They were paid for fifty-eight weeks' work, ending 7 Aug. 1606, and the whole cost, including the board and wages of the workmen who lived in the college, and the payment for ‘Mr. Dallam's owne lodging … at Brownings, Sampsons, and Knockells,’ was 371l. 17s. 1d. In 1607 Dallam was paid 1l. 15s. for tuning the organ, besides 1l. 15s. realised by the sale of surplus tin, and in 1617 and 1635 he (or one of his sons) received sums of 10l. and 22l. for repairs to the instrument. The name occurs for the last time in the college records in 1641, and during the civil war the organ was taken down, though parts of it are said to be still in existence, incorporated in the instrument now in use. In 1613 Thomas Dallam made ‘new double organs,’ i. e. a great and a chaire (or choir) organ for Worcester Cathedral, the cost of which, for materials and workmanship, was 211l. This organ seems also to have disappeared during the rebellion: it was replaced in 1666 by one by Thomas Harris of New Sarum. The records of Magdalen College, Oxford, also contain several entries which probably refer to this member of the Dallam family. In 1615 he received 4l., and in 1624 2l. for repairs to the organs. In 1632 2l. 13s. was paid for tuning, and in 1637 Dallam and Yorke were paid 2l. 7s. 6d. for repairs. Repairs in 1661, 1664, and 1665, which cost 25l., 40l., and 20l. respectively, must have been paid to one of Thomas Dallam's sons. On 29 Sept. 1626, at a court of the Blacksmiths' Company, Dallam was appointed one of the stewards at the annual feast on lord mayor's day. This office was always held by a liveryman previous to his becoming a member of the court. Dallam, however, did not appear at the meeting, and accordingly, on 12 Oct. following, he was fined 10l. for refusing to hold the stewardship, and it was resolved that if he neither acted as steward nor paid his fine on that day twelvemonth he should lose his place in the livery. On 29 Sept. 1627 Dallam appeared in person before the court, and prayed to be excused from the stewardship. He paid down 5l. on account of his fine and offered to pay the remainder by instalments of 1l., 2l., and 2l. during the three following years. This offer was accepted, and Dallam signed the record of it in the minute book. From this signature the correct form of his name has been ascertained. It is variously written by his contemporaries as Dalham, Dallum, Dallan, Dallans, Dalhom, Dullom, and Dallom. The date of his death is unknown. His arms, as recorded on his son Robert's tombstone, were ermine, two flanches, each charged with a doe passant.

[Wood's Hist. and Antiq. of Oxford, ed. Gutch, p. 213; Ecclesiologist for 1859, p. 393; Willis's and Clark's Cambridge, i. 518–21; Rimbault and Hopkins's The Organ, 2nd ed.; Chapter Records of Worcester Cathedral, communicated by Mr. J. H. Hooper; Minute Books of the Blacksmiths' Company; assistance and information from Mr. W. B. Garrett.]

W. B. S.