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Taken from  The Life and Times of the Dibdin - Aglio Family

Thomas Robert Colman Dibdin

(22 October 1810 – 26 December 1893
an English watercolour artist and teacher.

T C Dibdin
born in Betchworth, Surrey in 1810

Married to Anne Alice Jones in 1834

and had 12 children

Became a professional artist in 1838

More details on T.C.Dibdin Homepage

He did paintings in Gibraltar and India although the latter were created in England, based on detailed sketches. In 1845 he published a guide to water colour painting.

Most of his life was spent in London but he seemed to have travelled throughout England and finally settled in South London.

Dibdin worked at Sydenham College later in life with his brother in law, Rev.William Taylor Jones who was the head.  He died in Sydenham. His paintings can be seen in galleries in London and Sheffield.

 In 1878,while working for Rev.William Taylor Jones, Dibdin was talking into into donating 6 sketches, at £5.0.0 each, of the site of Mayow Park,  which was set up as the first open space made specifically for the general population in South Lewisham was with pressure and financial support from Rev.William Taylor Jones.

Although born and brought up for a while in the country near Box Hill in Surrey, he spent much of his working life in Central London, working first in the General Post Office as a clerk from the age of 17 years old.  Records show that at the age of 25 years old in 1835 he was living in Goswell Road very close to the The General Post Office building in St Martin’s Le Grand.

At the age of 28 he decided to become an artist and sometime in  his twenties he moved to New Bond Street before moving up to Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia.

In 1850 he moved to The Polygon in Somers Town which was situated between Euston and St Pancras Station.



[London : 1878 (or later)]. An attractive antique print of Somers Town in the mid nineteenth century - the Polygon was the home at various times of both William Godwin and Charles Dickens - and the birthplace of Mary Shelley. Engraved by Joseph Swain (1820-1909) from an earlier source and originally produced for the part-work "Old and New London" (London 1873-1878).

See summary of places of residence of members of the family

An article written by Marian Montford nee Dibdin regarding the Artistic Family also mentions that T C Dibdin visited Augustine Aglio with his son, the young William Joseph Dibdin at 4 Oval Road and this is where William would have met his wife to be Marian Aglio.

 "The younger children of the Dibdins became very friendly with the three Aglio sisters, Laetitia, Marian and Mysie. Marian Aglio and William Joseph Aglio first met aged nine and ten respectively. He teased her by putting her pet cat over the wall, but he also climbed over the wall to get it back."

Once he had decided to become a professional artist in 1838 he moved to Bond Street and then to other residences in the Central area of London with one short stay in Banstead in about 1856.

 How he met his wife to be, Ann Alice Jone, is a mystery but they got married while he was still at the Post Office, so perhaps he met her at work.

Ann Alice and Thomas Colman


Later he would travel extensively in Essex and probably visited his wife’s brother, the Rev. William Taylor Jones who was the head of a school in Saffron Walden where he painted a watercolour of the Parish Church in 1841.

Although living in London most of his life, he must have had a yearning for the countryside as much of his work is of landscapes and local views and there are prints of his work from 1843 to 1861 indicating that he must hast travelled extensively throughout England doing sketches and paintings. Areas visited include Berkshire, Cambridge, Cumberland Devon, Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire,  Kent, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford Surrey, Wales and London.

 Looking at the list of addresses: 

2,  Radcliffe Terrace, Goswell Road, Islington
33 New Bond Street
23 Charlotte Street   Fitzroy Square
28, Upper Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square
25 The Polygon Somers Town 
Banstead, Surrey
53 Belsize Road  Kilburn

Thomas must have made the effort to have lived in the swim of things and it is sad that we have no primary history material relating to his life.
There is a tale within the family that when William Joseph Dibdin was called in as an expert to report on the signs of subsidence in St.Paul’s Cathedral, London, he said to the Dean "My father restored the paintings in the dome, but I have moved lower down." So T.C.Dibdin may have done some painting renovation in the cathedral.

We have examples of his work done in the Banstead area during his time living in south London.

Banstead Downs T.C.Dibdin 1857


Old Lane Banstead T.C.Dibdin 1861

 There is not to much that can be said about life for Thomas Colman Dibdin and his family other than that which is referred to elsewhere. His childhood must have been somewhat tumultuous being the son of someone in the theatre world and the suggestion is that most of his siblings died young. Judging from the family residences over the years, it would seem that his financial status varied widely and there is the comment by his son William Joseph that in 1864, while they were living at Kentish Town or Belsize Park, indicating a degree of poverty.

From W.J.Dibdin’s autobiography

“On the removal of our family from Banstead to London, Kentish Town, I went for 12 months to a school in Fortess Terrace but, when at 14 years of age, I had the opportunity of obtaining a clerkship with the London and North Western Railway at Camden Station and knowing that my father had a hard task to keep a large family going I asked to be allowed to accept it.”

The reference to Kentish Town may well have been 53 Belsize Road where records show that the family settled for a few years by1870 although Fortess Road is about 2 mile away.

The issue over finance seems to have been the bane of both his Father and Grandfather and in fact William, his son, seems to have to have had to cut back considerably in the last 10 years of his life.


Later in his life Thomas Colman went to work for his brother in Law – Rev William Taylor Jones who was the founder and head of Sydenham College in 1857. During the second half of the century, there was considerable interaction between the Taylor

Family and the Dibdin Family with a number of the Dibdin Family either working for or attending Taylor Jones Schools.

As mentioned before, in 1875 Rev William got Thomas to donate 6 delightful sketches of the new Mayow Park to be sold for £5 to raise money for the purchase of Mayow which was one of the first public parks in England.

The Taylor Jones – Dibdin relationship is a topic of its own which extends out to include the Tetley family (of Tetley Tea) This is available in detail on the history website.

It is likely that Thomas Colman was still living at Belsize Road while he was working at Sydenham and so it is interesting to consider how he travelled across London perhaps at the age of 60 years old or more. We know that in 1881 at the age of 71 he was still at Belsize Road although it is recorded that he died 12 years later at Sydenham. His wife was to die a year later.


 By the time of his death in the 1893, his son William Joseph had settled at Mayfield, Grange Rd, Sutton and, although still working for London County Council, would resign and go into private consultancy within a few years. Sutton was only a few miles from Sydenham and probably easily assessable by train.

Watercolour of the North Downs looking towards the South Downs by Thomas Colman Dibdin
Found in the archive painted on two sheets of paper

Details of  connection with Jones Family