Ralph Dayton, first constable of East Hampton

It is widely believed that Ralph Dayton was the first constable of East Hampton. In the beginning, there were only three public offices—magistrates called Townsmen, the Recorder and the Constable. Since we know that Ralph was in place as constable in 1651, he was probably also constable in 1650, when the General Court was created.

At about 63, Ralph was pretty advanced in age to be assuming the duties and responsibilities of constable—the burden, demanding for someone half his age, and most without due compensation.

In October of 1652, Ralph was once again elected constable, but this time the town addressed the expenses incurred that were not sufficiently reimbursed. Ralph accepted the position in November. Among many other duties, Ralph executed warrants and “moderated the court,” adding his signature to orders of the court.

One unpleasant incident occurred in June 1653 when Ralph was sent to collect Goody Edwards in the middle of an ongoing series of disputes with Goody Price, Goody Simons and whomever else disagreed with her. Thomas Baker testified that Goody Edwards said that, “whosoever should lay hould on her she would kill them if she could.” Goody Edwards then kicked the constable [probably Ralph] and when others came to assist him, she kicked backward and broke the shin of Thomas Talmage. Other details of the story are quite interesting, but the entirety is too long to cover in this entry. For those of you with our book, it begins on page 139.

Just eleven days after being kicked, Ralph was assigned by the town to supervise the digging of Town Pond, close to his house. Perhaps this project was more fitting for his condition, considering the sore leg.

By October of 1653, Ralph was selected as assistant to the magistrates, replaced as Constable by his friend Thomas Osbourne.

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