Some History of the Dalton Brothers of Orange, NSW, Australia

(See also the video presentation "The Daltons of Orange" by Robert Bruce from DGS Meeting in Orange)


Researched, complied & edited by Rodney G. Dalton from various sources on the World Wide Web. Sources are from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Google images search. Other sources are listed in the article. All copy written material is the property of the owner and is not to be used for commercial use.

Orange, NSW, Australia

James Dalton was a merchant and pastoralist, born in Duntryleague, Limerick, Ireland, son of James Dalton, innkeeper, and his first wife Eleanor, née Ryan. Because of the famine he went to New South Wales with his father in the late 1840s. In 1849 James senior opened a bark and slab store in Orange. In 1853 James junior set up as a storekeeper in Orange, where he married Margaret Mary Collins in 1858.

In that year his brother Thomas joined him and the firm became known as Dalton Bros. James helped displaced miners and in 1857 promised to build a mill if they grew wheat; his flour-mill was built in 1861. The firm's business expanded until it became the largest wholesale distributor west of the Blue Mountains. They had great success producing roasted and ground coffee on a large scale and later built large wool stores in Orange, where in 1865 they built an impressive retail store in Summer Street. By 1871 they had acquired three stations in the Lachlan district.

James Dalton had two sons, James & Thomas Dalton, who become the Dalton Bros. and they soon become very wealthy from their business interests.

In 1836, a grant of 640 acres of land, known as "Campdale" was made to William Ealy Simpson for which he paid 160 pounds. In 1849, James Dalton moved to Orange having previously owned and operated a small store in the nearby village of Lucknow. He later went on to establish a number of flour mills in Orange in partnership with his brother Thomas, and later, his half-brother Michael. Over the years, the Daltons acquired substantial land holdings in and around the Orange district.

The Dalton Bros continued to flourish in the 1870s and in 1876 James built Duntryleague, a mansion set in magnificent grounds, reputedly for £50,000. Aware that the coming of the railway, for which James had turned the first sod in 1874, would mean the end of wholesale distributors in the west Dalton Bros established an importing agency in Sydney, managed by Thomas, and in 1878 built Dalton House, Pitt Street. They built stores in lower Fort Street and had a wharf and bond and free warehouses at Millers Point. In 1878 James bought Ammerdown, near Orange, and later, Kangaroobie.

The Dalton family was one of the colony's richest and most influential Catholic families. Thomas, a papal knight, became mayor of Orange in 1877, represented Orange in the assembly in 1882-91 and was a member of the Legislative Council in 1892-1901. He died in Sydney on 26 June 1901. His daughter Blanche married Sir Mark Sheldon. James's second son, James Joseph, became the first native-born Australian member of the House of Commons when he was elected for West Donegal in 1890 in the Parnell interest. Despite exceptional enterprise and business ability James was kindly, unassuming and ever ready to help an Irishman in distress. He was a friend of Cardinal Patrick Moran and Bishop John Dunne and a benefactor of St Mary's Cathedral. He received a papal knighthood in 1877. He died aged 85 on 17 March 1919 at Duntryleague, Orange. Predeceased by his wife, he was survived by four sons and four daughters. His estate was worth £73,000.

Some tidbits about James Dalton:

The first meeting of the Orange Municipal Council took place on 18 February 1860. The meeting, which was held in the Court House, was presided over by the Chairman, John Peisley with Councillors John Woodward, George McKay, William Dale, Dennis Hanrahan and William Tucker Evans in attendance. Crown Solicitor, George Colquhoun, was appointed Council Clerk and Messer’s James Dalton and Patrick Kenna were appointed as auditors. The total value of real property was £5,859 and the rates for the first year amounted to £265/12/7.

The Sydney Morning Herald - NSW: Saturday 6 June 1903




(Before the Registrar, Mr. A. Henry.)




James Dalton, trading as Dalton Brothers, merchant, of Orange, v. Thomas Williams, fanner, of

Spring, terrace, near Orange. The older was made, and Mr. W. H. Palmer was appointed official



The Assets Relisation and General Finance Company, Limited, v. Thomas McGregor. The matter

was adjourned until July 3.



The Sydney Morning Herald - NSW: Friday 9 January 1880


Mr. James Dalton took possession of his new mansion, DuntayLeague, yesterday, and celebrated the event by a magnificent dinner party, at which there were many distinguished guests. The house and grounds have been completed at a cost of £30,000.


The Argus - Melbourne, Victoria: Tuesday 23 April 1901




SYDNEY, Monday.


Mr. John Dalton, third son of Mr. James Dalton, of Dalton Bros., the well known Sydney merchants, died last night, at the age of 35 years, after n short illness. He had had charge of the firm’s mills and was a great favorite among a very large circle of fiends. He look considerable

Interest in the public affairs.


The Sydney Morning Herald - NSW: Tuesday 19 April 1892






The formal opening of Messrs. Dalton Bros. new flour mill took place to-day, and was celebrated with a banquet, at which over 300 persons sat down. Mr. James Dalton occupied the chair, and there were present Messer’s. Torps, M.L A., J. T, Lane, P. M.., the Mayors of Orange and East Orange, and most of the leading citizens. The mill was started by the Misses Jane and Winifred Dalton, daughters of the proprietors.


The erection of the mill was started 12 month ago, the building being from planed by Messer’s. A. D. Nelson and Co., Sydney, who contracted for the erection of all the machinery. The machinery was made by Messer’s Hind and Lund, of Preston, Lancashire, England. In the meantime while, the construction of the mill was going on the ironwork was being constructed by Messer’s A. D. Nelson in Sydney. The machinery is considerably heavier than that in any other mill in New South Wales There are five brake roller mills 40in. Long and 10in. in diameter. The reduction plant contains nine sets of rollers, each 25in. long and 10in. in diameter, and each of the mills has four rollers. There are 17 acts of elevators. On the second floor is the Atlas purifiers, so constructed as to dispense with storeroom and dust collectors. On the third floor are the centrifugals and scalpers. On the floor are more centrifugals and brake reels. In the basement the shafting for driving the reduction and brake rolls extends the full length of the building. One feature of the machinery is that the motive power is in every case direct from the engine to each line of shafting. The new building contains 300,000 bricks, and 12,000 yards of earth were excavated for the foundations. The plant is said to be the largest and most expensive in the colony.


The homestead at “Kangaroobie”

But in 1881 the property entered its best-known tenure of ownership when it was bought by James Dalton as part of that local business family’s extraordinary pastoral expansion. James Dalton’s father (another James) had arrived in the colony, like Thomas Kite, in chains, but likewise gained his freedom and in 1847 set up a shop at Frederick’s Valley, eight kilometres east of present-day Orange. The discovery of gold at nearby Ophir in 1850 brought fortune-hunters flocking to the district so when young James(then just 19) hung up his own shingle in Orange in 1853, his timing was perfect. Trading as Dalton Brothers (James was joined in 1858 by his brother Thomas), the two built up a diverse business that came to be known throughout western NSW, and made them rich men. From modest beginnings as suppliers to the goldfields, the Daltons branched into buying gold, warehousing and forwarding wool from western stations, flour milling and general merchandising. Apart from the main store and warehouse in Summer Street, Orange, Dalton Bros at its height also had a warehouse in Pitt Street, Sydney and its own wharf at Millers Point. Commercial success soon found expression in the establishment of a suitably impressive family seat, the Orange mansion James built in 1876 and named “Duntryleague” (after his father’s birthplace in Ireland) –today, home of the Orange Golf Club. Land acquisitions followed, with “Ammerdown” on the western edge of Orange in 1878, “Kangaroobie” in 1881 and later “Adare” and “Look Out”. By the time of James’ death in 1919, the family’s Orange district landholdings encompassed more than 30,000haextending from the town boundary to Mullion Creek, 20km to the north. In addition, the Daltons owned the 11,000ha “Gobabla” at Nevertire and “Belowra” (20,000ha) near Nymagee, as well as interests in several stations around Condobolin. The Orange properties alone ran 40,000 sheep, which were shorn – along with sheep from other surrounding properties– at a 32-stand woolshed near the Mullion Creek railway siding. Remnants of the shed survive today on the “Jumbuck” property owned by Terry Ostini. The properties were run as an integrated unit as Dalton Estates, with weaners (Romney/Merino cross) sent from “Kangaroobie” to “Gobabla” to grow out, the wether portion then transferred as wool cutters to “Belowra” and the ewes back to “Kangaroobie”. Shorthorn cattle were also run on “Kangaroobie” and other Dalton properties, and bullocks were sent to the western stations for finishing in good seasons. James’ fourth son, Michael (MF), was given the job of managing the pastoral operations and it was for him that James in 1902 erected the magnificent two-storey “Kangaroobie” homestead overlooking the upper reaches of the Bell River. Designed, like “Duntryleague” by specially-imported English architect, Benjamin Backhouse, the “Kangaroobie” homestead is built in Federation Queen Anne style, with period features. Encircling tall verandahs fringed with ornate cast iron lace work give the house a commanding presence which is reinforced by the matching octagonal bays flanking the main entrance. It was built on the site of the original Kite homestead erected in the 1840s, two wings of which were incorporated into the new structure and used as servants’ quarters. The homestead served as MF’s family home until his death in 1944, apart from a nine-year gap after his father’s death in1919, when he became more involved in the management of the store and shifted to “Duntryleague” to be closer to Orange. In 1928 Daltons’ retail emporium was bought by Western Stores, of which MF became a director. He also remained in charge of Dalton Bros’ milling operation and the pastoral interests.


The homestead at “Kangaroobie”




Probate has been granted of the will of Mr. Thomas Garrett Dalton, merchant, of Orange who died on May 4. The estate Is valued at £62,010, of which £31,110 Is represented by shares In public companies. Testator appointed his widow, Mary Dalton, James Dalton, merchant, of Orange and Michael Francis Dalton, grocer, of Kangaroobie, near Orange, executrix and executors and trustees of his estate. Legacies of £1000 each are bequeathed to his daughters Mary Josephine Irene and Marguerite Mary Violet; £250 to his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Butler; £100 to the administrators of St Joseph s Church, Orange, to be expended on the Church property, and £50 to the Orange District Hospital. Plates, books, pictures, household effects, horses, and carriages are left to his widow, to whom also £1000 is to be paid within six months after his death. She is also to receive 1000 fully paid-up shares in Dalton Bros. Ltd, 20 fully

paid-up shares in the Dalton Estate, Ltd , and his property on Kite-street, Orange, known as Killiney. He bequeathed 2500 shares in Dalton Bros, Ltd., and 60 in the Dalton Estate Ltd, to his trusties upon trust to pay the income to his widow for life, and after her death to divide the same equally among such of his five sons as should attain the age of 25 years.


He further directed that 2000 shares in Dalton Bros, Ltd, and 40 shares in the Dalton Estate, Ltd , be bold upon trust for his two daughters in equal shares, and bequeathed 12,500 shares in Dalton Bros, Ltd., and 200 share in the Dalton Estate, Ltd., to his trusties upon trust to divided the same in equal shares among such of his five sons as survived him and attained the age of 25 years. Certain property In Orange is bequeathed to his trustees, with discretionary power to sell und hold the proceeds in trust for such of his sons as attained the age of 25 years. The residue of the real and personal estate is left to the trustees upon trust to convert the same into money, and out of the income arising from the Investment of this money to pay each of his two daughters an annuity of £50 till the death of their mother, and thereafter £100 each. Testator devised the balance of the income of the residuary estate to his widow for life, and after her death to be held upon trust for his five sons In equal shares. Should any of the sons die before attaining the ago 25 years and leave Issue, the testator directed that the child or children should receive the father's share.,0.jpg











Interior arch and stained glass window with the Dalton Crest and Arms.


Dalton Bros, Post Office, Coroner's & County Clerks' Offices, Summer Street, centre, south side, Orange. Source: State Library of NSW.

Dalton Bros. storage yard and stables, Summer Street, Orange. Source: State Library of NSW.


Gulgong branch of Dalton Bros'. Orange flour store, Herbert Street. Source: State Library of NSW.

Dalton Bros. Flour Mill, Orange, N.S.W. Source: State Library of NSW.


Mrs. M. F. DALTON, of Kangaroobie, Orange, has sailed for Australia after a delightful visit to her people in Ireland. She brings with her a debutante sister, Miss Maud CORBETT, who was greatly admired in London and Dublin during the season.

The Central West of New South Wales, especially around Orange, has many historic houses, both public and private houses. Some of the new owners have had the funds to restore them. A prime example is "Kangaroobie", the residence of the Dalton family in Orange. "Kangaroobie", with its outbuildings and stables, was a fine building that fell into disrepair. Prior to the new owners taking it over the house was becoming derelict. Often we would say that cattle could walk in the back door and out the front door. Fortunately someone from Sydney bought the property and was able to spend $2 million to restore the building and its surrounding gardens. It will remain a part of our history, together with a number of other buildings around Orange. Although they are not under the control of the Historic Houses Trust they are an important part of this nation and our history.