Captain James Dalton (1718-1783) was a Boston shipmaster involved in trade with the West Indies and Europe. His first command was of the brigantine Joshua , owned by Henderson & Hughes, which sailed between Boston and London. By 1751, he owned several trade ships, such as the Abigail and the Polly , and managed a Boston based shipping business. He married Abigail Roe in 1740; they had 10 children, including Richard and Peter Roe Dalton, whom he employed as cosigners of cargo for many of his trading vessels. Richard drowned in 1768, while delivering cargo to Turks Island in the West Indies. James Dalton died in 1783.
After working for his father's shipping business, Peter Roe Dalton (1743-1811) became deputy commissioner general of issues for the Continental army, which provisioned the troops stationed in Boston during the Revolution, as well as prisoners of war in the area, and the French fleet under Charles Henri, comte d'Estaing. After the war, he was appointed by the General Court of Massachusetts to settle the state's war debts. He later worked for the Massachusetts Bank and served as the first cashier of the local branch of the Bank of the United States from 1792 until his death in 1811. Peter was first married in 1768 to Susanna Griggs. His second wife was Ann Call of Charlestown, Massachusetts; they were married in 1778 and had 11 children. After his father's death, Peter inherited his Boston estate, which he passed on to his son, Peter Roe Dalton, Jr., (1791-1861), who is also represented in the collection.