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13 Sep 2014

In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire missing records might just happen

For those following the saga of my wonderful 3 Dibben sisters from Tarrant Gunville, Dorset, Eliza Doolittle's rhyme now has new meaning:

Their first marriages, of course, haven't yet turned up.  However, Hertford records gave us a clue about Jane's husband. And believe it or not, Hereford is the repository that can tell us about Rebecca's husband. The two counties are sufficiently far apart culturally and economically that they are rarely mentioned in the same breath; hence the perceived peculiarity of the My Fair Lady rhyme.

Hertfordshire, a built-on brownscape; roundabouts taking the place of market gardens, lonely hairdressers and dentists filling in for the warm noisesome jostle of 19th century coaching hostelries. This county's proximity to Europe's premier city never more than a blink away.

Ah, Hereford, golden valley in motorway-less terrain, not en route to Wales, the Cotswolds with cow byres, cider presses and SAS dorms the only infrastructure for miles. Driving it is a forgivable pleasure. Small wonder the two counties are rarely conflated.

There is a rumour, baselessness or not an irrelevancy, of an excited family come to research their Welsh border ancestors, and taking the train from Stansted Airport to the royal town of Hertford believing it would hold Hereford's records.  Disappointed, they went on their way.

At Hertford, Ellen Williams's marriage age 38 is recorded at pretty St Mary Cheshunt. Her father revealed as John Williams, 'gentleman', 1864.

At Hereford, Rebecca Cox's marriage age 37 will reveal her father Mr Cox in the wedding registers of Little Hereford, near Tenbury Wells, 1852.

The two men having allegedly married Jane and Rebecca Dibben respectively.

And Hampshire? Well, Rebecca's third husband lived with her at Ringwood in that county, and left a will in 1837 - unlikely to add much to the sum of knowledge but nonetheless worth having, in the effort to make sense of these sisters and their peregrinations.

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