James Dalton (criminal)

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For other people named James Dalton, see James Dalton (disambiguation).

James Dalton (died 11 May 1730) was "captain" of a street robbery gang in 18th century London, England.

His father, also James Dalton, was Irish and fought as a sergeant in the British Army in Flanders. He was convicted of street robbery on 3 March 1720 and was sentenced to transportation.[1] On being found in London in 1721, reputedly informed upon by the self-appointed Thief-taker General, Jonathan Wild,[1] the elder Dalton was hanged.[2][3]

His mother re-married a butcher, but both were convicted and sentenced to transportation. By then, the younger Dalton had already begun his criminal career. James Dalton got into the company of thieves as a youngster, picking pockets, breaking shops, and robbing people on the street, in the Smithfield and Old Bailey area.

It is reported that he went on two trips to Bristol, to practice his calling there; and he was convicted and transported (but persuaded the crew to mutiny near Cape Finisterre), was pressed into HMS Hampshire, and was a spectator of the siege of Gibraltar in 1727, and thence returned to London, although this account may be somewhat fanciful.[4]

He gave King's evidence in the trials of various of his underlings in May 1728,[5][6] and received a Royal pardon for his part in the offences.[7] A "Genuine Narrative" of his exploits was published shortly afterwards.[8][9]

He was arrested in December 1729 and convicted in January 1730 for assaulting Dr Mead near Leather Lane in Holborn, for which he was fined and imprisoned for three years.[10] While he was in prison, he was recognised by John Waller, who claimed that Dalton had robbed him at gunpoint in a field near Bloomsbury. Dalton was tried for highway robbery on 8 April 1730. The complainant was said to be an affidavit man, or "knight of the post," and made similar complaints against a number of other men; indeed, Waller was convicted of perjury,[11] and he was beaten to death by Edward Dalton, James' brother, and accomplices on 13 June 1732 while he was in the pillory at Seven Dials.[12][13] Dalton admitted having committed other offences, but he denied this one; he also called witnesses to testify that he was not guilty. Nevertheless, he was convicted, and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Tyburn on 11 May 1730.[14][15]

His main claim to fame is a fleeting reference in plate 3 of William Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress, painted in 1731, in which his wigbox is being stored above the bed of the female protagonist, Moll Hackabout.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Grand Larceny, 3rd March 1720.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  2. ^ "June 20th". Chamber's The Book of Days. www.thebookofdays.com. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  3. ^ "Returning from transportation, 1st March 1721.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  4. ^ Arthur L. Hayward. "Lives Of The Most Remarkable Criminals Who have been Condemned and Executed for Murder, the Highway, Housebreaking, Street Robberies, Coining or other offences". Full Text Free Book (Part 12/15). www.fullbooks.com. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  5. ^ "Highway robbery, 1st May 1728.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  6. ^ "Robbery, 1st May 1728.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  7. ^ "James Dalton, 17th July 1728.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  8. ^ "Advertisements, 1st May 1728.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  9. ^ "Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: Dalton's Narrative, 1728". via web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  10. ^ "Highway robbery, 16th January 1730.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  11. ^ "Punishment summary, 25th May 1732.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  12. ^ "Murder, 6th September 1732.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  13. ^ "The Newgate Calendar - JOHN WALLER, alias TREVOR,". www.exclassics.com. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  14. ^ "Highway robbery, 8th April 1730.". Old Bailey Proceedings Online. www.oldbaileyonline.org. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  15. ^ "Crime and Punishment, 1730". via web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2008-06-23.