Fred Albert Dibben of Witchampton, Dorset

One of Ari’s 4x great-grandfathers was Fred Albert Dibben, born in 1848 in Witchampton, Dorset.


He was the fourth son of Isaac Dibben and Elizabeth Frampton, and was baptised on 3 September 1848 at the church dedicated to St Mary, St Cuthburga & All Saints. The online parish clerk’s page gives a good description of Witchampton: “With its quaint timber-framed and thatched cottages resplendent in summer with honeysuckle, roses and jasmine, the village of Witchampton has been described as one of the most beautiful in the country.”

The 1851 census shows Fred, age 2, with his family in the village. His father Isaac was a miller. Fred was still at school in 1861, while his older brother John was working as a blacksmith. Before the next census, Fred had married Emma Orchard, daughter of William Orchard of Langton Matravers. The marriage took place on 19 May 1870, at the parish church of Corfe Castle.

View from the church, August 2017

Fred gave his occupation as a gardener. In the census of 1871, Fred and Emma are living with Isaac, recently widowed, at Lower Street in Witchampton.

Their daughter Alice Sarah was born later that year, followed by Annie Elizabeth, Lucy Mary, Blanche Edna, and then a son, James Albert, in 1886. By this time Fred was working as a general dealer, and they had moved to West Parley.

An unusual monument in the eastern wall of the church at West Parley. Behind the grille and glass is an urn which apparently contains the heart of the Lady of Lydlinch, who endowed the church in the fourteenth century


Emma died in 1897, and Fred was working as a market gardener at the time of the census in 1901. Lucy, Blanche and James were still at home.

Fred died in December 1908 and was buried at Hampreston.

Witchampton: Sheephouse Drove signpost

Ari, this is how you are related to Fred:

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Which William of Winfrith?

I have previously written about William Orchard who was born in 1813. I’ve now researched his family back a few more generations.  His father, also William (Ari’s 6x great-grandfather), was born in 1779 in Winfrith Newburgh in Dorset (near Tolpuddle).


But I realized that there were two babies with the same name, both baptised in the same year, at the village church of St Christopher, and I would need to spend some time disentangling the family branches.


One William was the son of Robert and Elizabeth, and one was the son of John and Mary. I assumed that Robert and John were brothers, but didn’t know which couple were the parents of ‘my’ William.

I was greatly helped by the transcriptions of the parish baptisms and marriages available as part of the Dorset Online Parish Clerk project (e.g. at

This allowed me to see that a William Orchard (born in 1704) who had married Mary Gretton in 1736 had sons called Robert and John. (The children were William (1738), Anne (1740), Robert (1742), John (1744), Thomas (1746), Elizabeth (1751) and Mary (1756).)

Robert married Elizabeth Rawls in 1773, and John married Mary Rawls in 1770. So I was happy to carry on searching backwards, in the hope that all would become clear. The parents of the William Orchard who married Mary Gretton were Robert Orchard and Anne, and they married in 1694 in Winfrith Newburgh. (So it doesn’t matter for now whether it is Robert or John who is Ari’s direct ancestor, because we can be sure that this Robert – born in about 1674 – is.)

Robert and Anne had six children: John in 1696, Elizabeth in 1697, Thomas in 1699, Edith in 1701, William in 1704 and Mary in 1707.

More to follow …

William Orchard of Langton Matravers

William Orchard was Ari’s 5x great-grandfather. He was born in the Dorset village of Langton Matravers on 8 Sep 1813, and baptised on 10 Oct.


We first see him in the 1841 census, after his marriage to Sarah Welch. The couple are living in West Street, Corfe Castle, with Sarah’s mother. They have an eight-month-old daughter living with them, as well as a three-year-old child called Edna Toop. William’s occupation is ‘labourer’, and in the 1851 census he is a general labourer. By 1861, he is still in West Street but now working as a clay digger. By this time they have seven children: Susan Ann, Emma, Henry, Elizabeth Sarah, Lucy Mary, William and Edna.

According to the Purbeck and Mineral Mining Museum website, “The clay industry was a major employer in Corfe Castle and the surrounding villages from the end of the 18th Century. At times half of the population of some villages were supported by clay work.”

This photo shows West Street with Corfe Castle behind it (shame about the car!).


William died in 1891 and was buried on 28 Sep in the old cemetery at Corfe Castle.

Ari, this shows how you are related to William:

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William and Sarah’s gravestone which we found today (5 Aug 2017), lying flat in the cemetery.