Joseph Dalton

The grave of Joseph Dalton and his wife Ann Dalton stands out a little among the thousands in Beacon Edge Cemetery, above Penrith. The stone is black and there is a white, circular plaque inset at the top. It shows an angel (or cherub) holding a cross, and has sadly been cracked and chipped somehow over the past 120 years.

While the grave stands out, Joseph Dalton and his wife don’t. There’s no ‘story’ to tell. So while this post records a little of who they were, it is little more than places and dates – and a reminder to today of ‘ordinary folk’ of the past.

Joseph Dalton

Joseph Dalton was born in Edenhall, the son of yeoman farmer William Dalton and his wife Mary. By 1851, Joseph was farming 64 acres there, had married Ann Stephenson (on May 22, 1847), and had a son William, aged three.

There were to be no more children – unless they lost any in infancy: Dalton is too common a surname in Cumbria to be sure. You can read more about Cumbrian surnames in this post

The following newspaper clarification illustrates this nicely:

1887 September 27. Penrith Observer. We are requested to state that the Joseph Dalton convicted last week of stealing a waistcoat was a native of Great Salkeld, not Edenhall.


In June 1856, John Woodhall, of Melmerby, was charged with assaulting Joseph Dalton of Edenhall. Case adjourned, as Woodhall ‘endeavoured to produce an alibi’.

December 1859. On Thursday night last, Mr Joseph Dalton, Edenhall, had a number of sheep worried by dogs: 13 badly wounded and four killed.

In March 1861, he was selling some pure-bred short-horned cattle. 

More trouble, in Plumpton

By 1871, Joseph and Ann Dalton had moved to Plumpton, where he was farming 90 acres. With them on the census were son William, his wife, their daughter Jane Ann, aged three months, plus a police officer’s wife and her infant children. An 1871 news story recounts how he was woken one night by stones and sods being thrown against his window, and the sounds of breaking glass. Frank Hall, of Lazonby, was fined, with costs, for the damage. No reason was given for the offence, beyond it being ‘frequent in the village districts’.

For whatever reason, Joseph Dalton ‘downsized’ after that. In 1879, auctioneers John Kidd listed ‘engagements’ including Mr Joseph Dalton, Plumpton, on March 10. 

1881 finds him and Ann at Sockridge, farming just four acres. With them is granddaughter Mary E, aged six.

Living with family

They moved twice (at least) after that. For in 1891, Joseph and Ann are living in Chapel Street, Temple Sowerby, with granddaughter Jane Ann, now 20. And 1901 finds them at their final home: 10 Poplar Place, Penrith. Jane Ann is still with them, joined by her brother John Richard, aged 10.

William Dalton

Son William Dalton married twice.  By his first wife, Jane, he had children Jane Ann, James, Mary E, William, Maggie, Charlie, and John Richard. Maggie is likely Margaret, domestic servant, in 1901.

In 1891, William Dalton is at a familar address: 10 Poplar Place, Penrith.

Jane Dalton looks to have died in 1892 and William remarried, looks like to Alice Holliday Lancaster in 1895. They moved to Low Plains, Skelton, and had children Robert, Ellen and Alice. Charlie, now 14, was with them in 1901.

Beacon Edge Cemetery

This post is one of a series on people buried at Beacon Edge, above Penrith.

Others include publican Thomas Dixon and the local bonesetters, the Dennison family.

And Charles Gilder, a yeast merchant. And William Weight.