The Dibben Family Divided – Immigration to America vs. Remain in England

Rueben and Mary Ann (Boiling) Dibben had 11 children that lived until adulthood. I have reviewed the census records, marriage records and death indexes on Find my Past to determine if they stayed in England and this is what I found:

  • John Dibben b. 1842 – Immigrated to Chicago, IL
  • George Dibben b. 1847 – Immigrated to Chicago, IL
  • Mary Ann Dibben b. 1850 – She remained in England and marries Stephen Baker.
  • James Clark Dibben b. 1851 – ? – He does not appear in any English census records after 1861.
  • Alfred Dibben b. 1854 – ? He married Caroline Turner on 21 August 1881 at Broadwater Parish, Sussex. He does not appear in any English census records after 1861.
  • Richard Dibben b. 1856 – He remained in England and married Mary Jane Tierney.  (though he is missing from the 1881 census.)
  • Edwin W. Dibben b. 1859 – ? He does not appear in any English census records after 1881.
  • Walter Reuben Dibben b. 1860 – ? Ah, he is a tricky one…he does not appear in an English census after 1871, but he died in Sussex in May 1899.
  • Frederick Dibben b. 1865 – ? Another tricky one. He is not in the 1891 census but married Elizabeth Richardson in 1896 and remains in England after that point.
  • Frances E. Dibben b. 1866 – She stayed in England and married Arthur Miles.
  • Wilfred B. Dibben b. 1868 – He remained in England and married Gertrude Richardson.

Searching for the Dibben Family has been like a game of tag or Red Rover switching between England and the United States, going back and forth trying to see who stayed and who immigrated. Oh, if it were so easy to determine if they did one or the other! In some cases, it appears that they gave the United States a try, but returned to England. I had heard about this pattern for the Italians, but I did not know the English did it as well.

Dibben Name Frequency in England
(Your-family-history.com)

I have been fortunate in that Dibben is not a very common name in England. I have found a variety of spellings: Dibben, Dibbin, Dibbens, Dibbons, Dibons, Dibens, and even Dibble, but it does not add a significant amount of people to find if you know where to look.  Using these tools has helped to narrow down where they might be based on their birth date and county/parish they were born.

Dibben Name Frequency in 1871 Census by Location
(your-family-history.com)

Dibben is an even less common name in the United States. Finding them in the U.S.  is quite easy in the 1880 census when there are only 16 people with that name, but the lack of an 1890 census gives some challenges.

Dibben Name in United States Census
(www.ancestry.com/learn/facts)

Luckily I have the Chicago City Directories that were published almost every year between 1839 and 1923  (available on Fold3) and newspapers. I have also ordered more marriage and death records that may fill in the gaps.

Next: We will hopefully be finding out what happens to James, Alfred, Richard, Edwin, Walter, and Frederick in the coming weeks when those records arrive.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Remember to share your family stories with each other and keep those ancestors alive.

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