Daniel Bolton became a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in 1811. He served in the Peninsular War (1811-1814), in Holland (1814-1815), France (1815-1816), and at the Cape of Good Hope from 1853 until his death in 1860. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1846, Colonel in 1854, and Major-General in 1859. While stationed in Grahamstown he was in command of the Royal Engineers at its headquarters for the Eastern District. During these years he collected plants and according to P. MacOwan*, in an address to the Albany Natural History Society in 1867, covered the district thoroughly. He sent some of his plants to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London, and to W.H. Harvey* in Dublin, and is commemorated in the name of the orchid species Bonatea boltonii. Harvey acknowledged his contributions of plants from the neighbourhood of Grahamstown in the preface to Volume 1 of the Flora Capensis (1860).
Early in 1856 Bolton became a member of the Grahamstown Literary, Scientific and Medical Society. He left on retirement shortly after suffering an apoplectic attack and died in Cape Town.