They came from Gunville, in Cranborne Chase, near where Tess of the D'Urbervilles kept poultry for her beloved - that village is named 'Trantridge' in Hardy's chronicles.
The address of Gunville goes back to the will of William Speed of Ansford, 1800 who makes it clear that Mrs Dibben is his sister. She is quite some way from home, but the whole family were comfortable with long journeys - to markets, to distant churches for weddings. Her own parents had left their family in Somerset for a rather belated wedding in Dorchester some 30 miles away.
Here are the various places the daughters lived - explaining why it took some time to find them.
- Buckinghamshire - Richard Welford had land here
- Cumberland - Rebecca Dibben journeyed up north with her second husband, a widowed Cumbrian. Her husband died up there within weeks, and Rebecca returned to Dorset some time later - it is not clear whether she returned immediately or after the birth of her son.
- Hampshire - Abraham Mackreth married here; his mother Rebecca lived here with her third husband John Spragg, market gardener, Ringwood
- Dorset - the Dibben sisters were born or at least grew up here
- Somerset - this is where the Dibben parents married and the eldest child (Mary) was born. She recalled this fact in her 80s in the 1871 census for Guernsey
- Guernsey - three of the Dibben sisters are documented to have visited Guernsey, two had children there, and one died there
- Sussex - three of the Dibben sisters died here, the eldest one had her eldest child here 70 years previously. The key draw in Sussex must have been Buggins's Bathing Bath-house in Brunswick, Brighton. This was technically in Hove and run by Rebecca Dibben's son-in-law, Henry Buggins
- Middlesex - Jane Dibben married her second husband here and possibly lived with her husband in Chancery Lane; she certainly lived briefly at Ashford, Middlesex in a census. Rebecca Dibben's granddaughter and alleged granddaughter were both born or baptised here.
- Surrey - Jane Dibben's two children were born in historic Surrey (Stockwell and Newington), one was baptised at St Matthew Brixton where the massive nightclub now is (in the crypt). Later, in 1851, her niece Rosa from Guernsey would be working here as a nursery nurse - in the town of Reigate, before emigrating overseas. Finally, Jane's eldest child Ellen would ultimately die in this county, in Putney, in her forties.
- Wiltshire - Jane Dibben lived here with her first husband in the market town of Marlborough. Her eldest sister is stated to have had a child here, too. Though he was a seafaring man, and it is not a seafaring county.
- Devonshire - Mary Dibben had at least one of her children here, Elizabeth in Plymouth in about 1820. It has strong seafaring connections
- Herefordshire - Rebecca Dibben's daughter Rebecca Cox found work as a nurse in this county, and married here in 1852 at Little Hereford to the bathing house proprietor of Hove, and it is this marriage which causes many family member to come to Sussex.
- Hertfordshire - Jane Dibben settled here with her second husband, barrister Richard Welford. It is likely he commuted into London. He had his own large stables at Goff's Oak House. His previous residence in the county was at Northaw Downs. Jane's elder daughter married here at pebbled St Mary Cheshunt
- Kent - this is where Jane Dibben's only surviving child made her home
- Warwickshire - Jane Dibben went to live in isolated Allesley, outside Coventry after her husband become district judge. Although he retired here, and her daughter married here, she left for Brighton immediately after his death.
- Cheshire - this was the home of Rebecca Dibben's son Abraham's in-laws. He stayed with them briefly, but the marriage broke up
There was actually a fourth sister, but she is not as exciting as the others. For starters, she actually gets married in the local church - none of her other sisters do that. In fact all the other sisters have missing marriages. Also - she never branches out on her own. She does visit her sister in Guernsey and of course end up in Sussex, but she is not the trailblazer.
A family history video story has been uploaded to http://youtube.com/egbertine