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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

Isaac Dibben, miller

Thomas Hardy’s cottage in Higher Bockhampton, which we visited when we went to Dorset in 2014.

Isaac Dibben was one of Ari’s 5x great-grandfathers. He was born in Wimborne Minster in Dorset in 1799 to John Dibben and Ann West.

This photo of Isaac is courtesy of his 3x great-granddaughter, Claire Hewlett.

His baptism took place on 9 June 1799.

In December 1832, Isaac married Elizabeth Frampton at the church in Wimborne Minster. They went on to have four sons. From the 1841 census, we know that Isaac was working as an agricultural labourer. The census shows the family in Witchampton. Isaac’s older brother George Dibben was living with them.

By 1851, Isaac had become a miller. In 1861 he was listed as a miller’s labourer, but in 1871 he was shown as a miller again (he was now a widower, as Elizabeth had died in 1869).

Witchampton had two mills on the River Allen, listed in the Domesday Book. The mill owner was Robert Burt (1823–1890), who in 1861 employed four men and one boy. His father, Aine, had owned the mill before him.

Bournemouth Guardian, 28 September 1889. Image © The British Library Board.

In 1873 there was a famous trial, called the Tichborne case. See for the full story. Emily Burt, who was married to Robert Burt, owner of Witchampton Mill, gave evidence in the trial, as reported in the London Evening Standard of 11 September 1873:

Image © The British Library Board.

Isaac had died just a few weeks before this, on 16 August 1873. His burial took place at Witchampton (St Mary & Cuthberga & All Saints) on the 20th. He did not leave a will. His grave may not be legible now, but fortunately it was transcribed by members of the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society, so we know that there was a headstone (no. 209), and that it mentions that he was the husband of Elizabeth.

Ari, this is how you are related to Isaac:

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