The Dibdin – Haycraft Connection

Link to Map of Sutton showing family residences

Although there may be another earlier relationship between William Joseph Dibdin and Samuel Willett Haycraft it would seem that the connection between the families developed though the School life of their respective daughters.
From the inset it can be seen that at least 4 Dibdin girls and all 3 Haycraft girls went to Sutton High School in the 1890’s and as the school was a new small Public School there is every reason to suppose that they knew each other well.

The School was founded in 1884 and it is reported that at the start there were 80 pupils. It seems that some pupils stayed for up to 7 years with ages of 8 to 16 years old.
The conclusion from this is that classes where small and it was reported that the headmistresses made great efforts towards cohesion within the school community.
By 1934 the school had classes from Kindergarten to Upper Sixth with up to 36 pupils in a class.

Cecily Haycraft was probably a contemporary of Marian Dibdin and Gertrude Haycraft a contemporary of Christine Dibdin.
Lionel Dibdin who was to marry Cecily Haycraft was a year older that Marian Dibdin.

In a letter to Peter Dibdin, Lionel’s Son, on the death of Lionel and Cecily in 1933, Bernard Haycraft refers to knowing Lionel since he was 15 years old, that is in 1896, so there is every reason to suppose that the families spent time together. 

The map of family residences at that time also give some indication of the proximity of the families.

Sydenham College also may be a significant factor is in the connection. 
Thomas Colman Dibdin, William Joseph Dibdin’s Father, was married to Ann Alice Jones the sister of the head of the college, Rev William Taylor Jones, for whom T.C.Dibdin worked later in his life as a teacher. A number of the Dibdin family and related families went to Sydenham College and to a School in Margate run by Rev. Jones son.
Lionel and other Dibdins attended an Annual Sydenham College Dinner at the College in February 1912 and there is in the archive a menu with a number of signatures on it including Lionel, G M Dibdin, George Taylor Jones, William Taylor Jones and one other Dibdin.
The Chairman was G M Dibdin, probably George Michael, who, sadly, died within 6 months of the dinner at the age of 65 years.

Whether or not any of the Haycrafts attended this College has yet to be established.

The connection between the Haycrafts and Dibdins has an interesting twist one generation later. Helen Ouin, who married John Davis, the son of Ethel Gertrude Haycraft, recently made a knowing comment regarding Joan Mary Dibdin, the daughter of Cecily Haycraft. The comment referred to childhood long before Helen and John had got married. As the records show both Helen and Joan were at Sutton High School for a three years period together when Joan was about 9 to 12 and Helen 15 to 18. Helen must have left to work at the Bank of England and Joan left to go the Ancaster Boarding School in Bexhill on Sea.

It ought to be noted that the relationship between the Haycrafts and the Dibdins did continue and develop over the years. Stanley M Haycraft who entered the First World War at the beginning was, in part, instrumental in helping and advising Lionel to apply for a commission in 1916. In the archive there are a number of letters from Stanley to his sister Cecily from the first 2 years of the war.

On the death of Lionel and Cecily in 1933 Joan was cared for during her holidays by Edith Haycraft who ran a School, The Towers, in Saltburn. Because of inadequacies with the wills, the financial affairs of Joan and Peter were managed by the Public Trustees. Peter although under the age of 21 at the time of the tragedy, acted as a free agent and once he was 21 was involved with the Public Trustees over Joan. Also there are letters from Edith that indicate that Peter was very supportive of Joan and her wishes for her future and had to argue with Edith on a number of issues.
When he went to the continent for touring holiday he wished to take Joan however Edith would have none of it. Perhaps she realised that the “boy next door” David Muir was to be on the trip as well.

Joan in later years developed a strong connection with the Nottingham Haycrafts, who were descendants of Bernard. She obviously got on well with Lorna, Bernard’s daughter and it was through Don Haycraft, one of Bernard’s sons, that Joan were introduced to the Guise family in Streatham during the war. Don Haycraft had known Anthony Guise in the forces while training and had been given an open invitation to 4 Pinfold Road. Don and his cousin Joan arrived on the doorstep of No. 4 as contacts of Anthony’s and the two Guise girls were collected from the cinema to welcome the visitors. Peter Dibdin, Joan’s brother, also was introduced to the family and Joan subsequently married Anthony Guise who, sadly, died in 1944 about 9 months after Peter.

It was in later years that Joan was grateful for the friendship and support given by Helen and John Davis, all travelling up and down the country between Cumbria and the South Coast to visit each other.

Helen’s parents, Charles and Hilda Ouin were close friends of Lewis and Gertrude Davis before Helen was born, so she was brought up knowing the Davis family. Both families lived in Sutton and both mothers went to Sutton Girls High School although there is no record of Hilda at Sutton High School under her maiden name of Tarry.

Oct 2008