Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dalton, John (1726-1811)

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DALTON, JOHN (1726–1811), captain H.E.I.C. service, defender of Trichinopoly 1752–3, was the only child of Captain James Dalton, 6th foot (now Warwickshire regiment), by a Limerick lady named Smith. He was great-great-grandson of Colonel John Dalton, of Caley Hall, near Otley, a royalist officer of an old Yorkshire family, desperately wounded in the civil wars. Captain James Dalton fell in the West Indies in 1742, probably in one of the minor descents on Cuba after the British failure before Carthagena. He had previously obtained for his son, then a boy of fifteen, a second lieutenancy in the 8th marines, lately raised by Colonel Sir Thomas Hanmer. Young Dalton embarked with a small detachment of that corps in the Preston, 50 guns, commanded by the sixth Earl of Northesk, which sailed from Spithead in May 1744; and after serving off Madagascar and Batavia, arrived in Balasore roads in September 1745, and was afterwards employed on the Coromandel coast. When the marine regiments were disbanded in 1748, Dalton was appointed first lieutenant of one of the independent marine companies formed on shore at Madras by order of Admiral Boscawen. The year after he transferred his services to the East India Company, and became captain of a company of European grenadiers, and made the campaigns of the next three years against the French under Dupleix and their native allies. In June 1752 he was appointed by Major Stringer Lawrence commandant of Trichinopoly, which place he defended with great skill and bravery against treachery within and overwhelming numbers of assailants without for several months, until the little garrison, the European portion of which had been reduced to a mere handful by repeated sorties, was finally relieved in the autumn of 1753. Dalton resigned his appointment on the ground of ill-health 1 March 1754, and received the thanks of the governor in council for his services. He returned to England in 1754, at the age of twenty-eight, having ‘amassed a fortune of 10,000l. and a fair share of military fame.’ His name appears in the ‘Army List’ for 1755 as a first lieutenant on half-pay of the reduced twelve marine companies formed by order of Admiral Boscawen, but he seems to have commuted his half-pay. He married at Ripon, on 7 March 1756, the second daughter of Sir John Wray, bart., of Glentworth, Lincolnshire, and Sleningford, Yorkshire. After his wife's death in 1787 Dalton resided at Sleningford, which he had purchased from her brother. He died 11 July 1811. Of his three sons, (1) Thomas, captain in the 11th dragoons, succeeded to Norcliffe estates in 1807, and took the name Norcliffe; (2) John, colonel of the 4th light dragoons, inherited Wray estates; (3) James, rector of Croft, Yorkshire, was an eminent botanist (collections now in York Museum). He also had three daughters.

[A Life of Captain John Dalton, H.E.I.C.S. (London, 1885), has been compiled from that officer's journal and other private and public sources by Charles Dalton, F.R.G.S., who disputes the account given by Orme, the author of History of the Military Transactions in Indoostan, originally published in 1763. See also later editions of Orme's work, and also, under corresponding dates, the manuscript Marine Order Books among the Admiralty papers in the Public Record Office, and Colonel Raikes's Hist. 102nd Royal Madras Fusiliers, formerly the H.E.I.C. 1st Madras Europeans, and now 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers.]

H. M. C.