Ralph Dayton: reconciling descriptions of prominence

In the last post, I attempted to show that Ralph Dayton’s seating placement at the meeting house in New Haven does not indicate the “prominent” status often attributed to him. While this says nothing about his character and abilities, it may bolster the idea that Ralph was anything but flamboyant.

Interestingly, just four years later in the small, newly-settled community at East Hampton, the record suggests Ralph’s competence was held in higher regard, promoting his involvement in important affairs of the town. In fact, East Hampton’s earliest records have Ralph as constable and as representative to Connecticut in order to retrieve the deed for the town and general laws by which to govern.

How can we reconcile this modest position at New Haven with his standing four years later at East Hampton?

In “History of Long Island,” Thompson said of Ralph Dayton,

it was ordered and determined by the general court, upon due consideration, that Ralph Dayton, one of their most discreet men, should go to Connecticut to procure the evidence for their lands, and a code of laws…

Perhaps Thompson’s description of Ralph as discrete is most correct? Consider the similarities in the words “prominent” and “discrete”—both have to do with separation and distinctiveness, but neither imply extravagance or pretentiousness. I believe Ralph was recognized for his ability and humility.

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