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Summary of the history of a large and extended family.

The story can start with two significant personalities who were both born in the middle of the eighteenth century, could not be classed amongst the poor of society and were poles apart in occupation and behaviour. John Rowntree, 1757-1827, the son of a Yeoman Farmer in Yorkshire was a leading Quaker and founder of Rowntree and Sons, Grocer and Draper in Scarborough. Charles Dibdin 1745-1814, the son of a Parish Clerk of Holy Rood, Southampton, was a poet and songwriter had three mistresses to our knowledge and produced offspring from all of them. Over time the history and genealogy of  each has been accumulated and after the deaths of interested members of each family in early twenty first century the archives have come together in one place. Over the two centuries of interest the descendants of these two have drawn  in a number of other interesting families and personalities and this article endeavours to give a flavour of the diversity of occupations and activities within the two dynasties that finally came together by married in 1965. It is appreciated that this approach is a somewhat arrogant way of expressing the intermingling of families however it will be appreciated that some family names develop around them a dynasty like aura and members of that family see themselves as the core. There is no doubt that the activities of the Rowntree and Dibdin families and detailed history known of them set them in this position. The differences are fascinating, the Rowntree's working in trade and manufacturing and yet known for their philanthropic and social work and the Dibdins in the field of theatre, art and engineering. Each powerful in there own way, the former in an outward looking, social,  way and the later with a somewhat family centred and satisfied mode. Obviously there are no absolutes, but it is interesting to speculate at to how the marriages into other families influenced the course of history within each family. 

What is of special delight with this study is that although we may at times be limited by lack of facts and precise evidence, there is often enough circumstantial evidence to accept how the chance meeting between individuals that subsequently married or worked together, could have happened and even enjoy flights of fancy about whether any of members of the two families did ever meet up either through their work, their interests or during the First World War.

We are lucky to be in possession of books, articles, letters and art work produced by members of the families as far back as the 1800's as well as access to historical information  in the public domain.

The greatest sadness is that the most recent collation of all this information has been restarted only since the year 2003 and that most of those that had much of the interesting verbal history always on the tip of their tongue have now died. However the shadows of the stories are still there and hopefully the main points of interest and some of the romantic coincidences can be pieced together.


The Dibdin Family


One of Charles Dibdin's known mistresses was Harriett Elizabeth Pitt, an actress who went by the name of Mrs Davenet. Records show that she give him two sons Charles Mungo and Thomas John. Thomas, whose Godfather was David Garrick became a dramatist and playright despite rejection by his father when Harriet fell from grace in favour of another mistress. It seems that David Garrick was of considerable help in his early career. 

One of Charles's brother was Thomas Dibdin the sailor who died while at sea. Dibdin's well known song Tom Bowling which is usually played at the last night of the Promenade Concerts in the Albert Hall was written in memory of Thomas whose son The Rev.Thomas Frognall Dibdin became the author of 46 books including Bibliomania The History, Symptoms, and Cure of this Fatal Disease  1809 and Bibliographical Tour Guides.

Thomas married Nancy Hillier and what an elegant couple they were, judging from their portraits. Thomas Dibdin wrote a number of plays amongst them a mild comedy called the Jew and the Doctor which caused riots in London in 1802.