Extracts from History of Stamford, Connecticut

From the History of Stamford, Connecticut - relating to Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee and his sons, Fyler Dibblee and Rev. Frederick Dibblee. Please read discussion on area for more on land measurement and money.

Page 205

An incident occurred in March, 1774, which might seem to forebode indecision and weakness among the patriots of the town. A special town meeting had been called to appoint delegates to the convention to be held, March 27th in Middletown. After the meeting was opened by the appointment of Colonel Abraham Davenport, moderator; it was voted that the town will appoint a committee to meet at Middletown on the last Wednesday in March, instant, there to consult proper measures to be pursued to evade the evils which the town apprehend they are in danger of concerning Susquehannah."

After this vote, which for aught that appears was unanimous, Capt. Fyler Dibble and Dr. John Wilson were appointed the committee. The meeting adjourned to meet again on the 11th of the following month to hear the report of the committee. At the appointed time the adjourned meeting was held. The town make an appropriation to cover the expenses of the committee and vote, that the petition recommended by the Middletown Convention, should be signed by the town clerk, Samuel Jarvis, in the name of the town, and forwarded to the Assembly at its next Session.

This petition was a lengthy argument framed in the interests of the Pennsylvanians against the claims of Connecticut to the territory then held by her citizens and subject to her authority. The convention authorizing it, was made up of delegates from only twenty-three of the sixty-three towns belonging to the state ; and their action received but little sympathy from the mass of the people. Their petition was couched in terms indicating an excessive loyalty to the English government and a readiness to abide by almost any decision of the crown. Mr. Ingersoll of Pennsylvania, was later an avowed tory. Captain Dibble and Mr. Jarvis of Stamford also enrolled themselves among those loyal still to the king ; and it would seem that the Stamford people, in mass, were by this action committed to the side of the crown against the revolution, whose beginnings were already felt and seen.

But a few months will show how erroneous such a conclusion would be. We shall find ample record to show, that during that long struggle, the great majority of our townsmen were heartily and self-sacrificingly for the war....

Page 250

I shall simply quote from the record of the general assembly, their action in March 1775.

"It having been represented to this assembly that Isaac Qaintard of Stamford, in the County of Fairfield, Capt. of the 2nd military company, in the town of Stamford, in the 9th regt. in this colony, and Fyler Dibble of said Stamford, Capt, of the first military company of Stamford, in said regiment, at said Stamford, in January last, in contempt of the authority in this colony, did attempt and endeavor to prevent the introduction of certain barrels of gun powder into this colony for the government's use, agreeably to the orders and directions of legal authority, which conduct is inconsistent with the duty of their said office and of dangerous tendency ; whereupon it is resolved by this assembly, that Gold Selleck Silliman and Jonathan Sturgiss, Esquires, be and they are hereby appointed Commissioners, and are fully authorized and empowered to notify said Quintard and Dibble to appear before them at such time and place as shall be by them appointed and to examine the witnesses relative to said conduct and examine into the truth of said representations and to report what they shall find to the general assembly at the session in May next."

No record of the arrest and trial of the captains has been found; but from the American Archives we learn that Fyler Dibble, Sept. 26, 1775, asks the forgiveness of the people for opposing the appointment of a committee of inspection, and promises to yield hearty obedience to the continental association. Captain Quintard, also, waived his farther opposition and made a humble confession.

Page 253

The following transaction, preserved in the American Archives, shows that the opposition to the war went still further. William Budd Lucas was a marked patriot, then temporarily living in Stamford. He was red hot against all tories, and his zeal maddened them beyond control. They therefore united with some of the same faith in Korwalk and gave him a most unmerciful whipping. For which offense they were arrested and brought to the following confession:

"Mr. Luke Raymond, Ebenezer Raymond aud Billy Saunders of Norwalk in Conn, having in a cruel and unjustifiable manner been guilty of attacking, beating and mauling William Budd Lucas of Stamford, for which crime we are heartily sorry, and in the first place earnestly beg the forgiveness of said Lucas, and of all other persons whom we have offended, aud furthermore we, William Starr, James Hoyt, jr. Prince Howes and Samuel Beebe of Stamford, and John Bigelow of Norwalk, having been guilty of being drawn into the riotous company above written, for which misconduct we are sincerely ashamed and heartily sorry, and humbly ask forgiveness of all whom we have offended. Furthermore, we, Prince Howes, Jas. Hoyt, jr. and Samuel Beebe aforesaid, having imprudently subscribed a certain paper said to be drawn up by Capt. Fyler Dibble, for which misconduct we are sorry and hummbly ask the forgiveness of all whom we have offended. And furthermore, we, one and all, solemnly promise and declare that we will, to tho utmost of our power and ability, exert ourselves in the defense of our country in opposition to the King's troops. Signed, Stamford, Sept. 15, 1775."

After these records it can scarcely be doubted that some stringent measures would be justified by the patriots of that day in putting down this opposition to their cause. Accordingly, the assembly for the state, in December of this year passed their famous act, for restraining and punishing persons who are inimical to the liberties of this and the rest of the imited colonies. That act made it a treasonable offense to "libel or defame any of the resolves of the congress of the united colonies or the acts and proceedings of this assembly, which are made for the defense and security of the rights and privileges of the same." Any person found guilty was to be disarmed, and rendered incapable of holding or serving in any ofiice civil or military, and he could be further punished by fine, imprisonment or disfranchisement.

Page 263

List of Stamford Loyalists...

Dibble, Frederic. This name is spelled Diblee by Sabine. He was son of Rev. Ebenezer and Joanna Dibble of this town where he was born in 1753. He graduated at King's College, now Columbia, in New York. He removed to New Brunswick after the war and was made rector of the Episcopal church in Woodstock. He was a most estimable gentleman and much beloved by his parishioners. He had a large and interesting family of seven sons and six daughters. He died at Woodstock, in 1826, at the age of seventy-three. His widow, Nancy, died in the same place in 1838, aged eighty-three years.

Dibble, Fyler, born Jan. 18, 1741-2, was a practicing attorney here when the war opened. We have already reported him as captain of the first militia company of the town in 1775. It seems that in violation of his pledge then given, he went over to Long Island and entered the service of the British. Here he was captured with other loyalists in '78, and his property in Stamford confiscated. In '83 he was a deputy agent in transporting loyalists from New York to Nova Scotia, in April of this year he went with his wife, five children and two servants to St. John's, New Brunswick, when in 1784 he was granted two city lots; and where some years later he put an end to his own life. His wife was Polly, sister of Seymour Jarvis of this town. They were married here June 18, 1763, and the following children are recorded to them; Walter, born Febb. 7, 1764; William, born Jan. 14, 1766; Peggy, born Nov. 28, 1767, and Ralph, born Oct. 22, 1769.

Page 317

The following letter deserves a place in our local history; partly as illustrating the religious movement of the age, and still more as our introduction to Mr. Dibble, who bore so conspicuous a part in the progress of the Episcopal church of the town:

Colony of Connecticut,
Stamford, March 25th, 1747.

Reverend Sir:- We, the subscribers, churchwardens and vestrymen of St. John's Church, in Stamford, with the unanimous concurrence, and in behalf of all the professors of the Church of England, in the towns of Stamford, and Greenwich, in Connecticut, beg leave to represent to the venerable society the state of our church, and with humble submission request their patronage, and that the effects of their extensive charity, which hath brought the means of salvation to many thousand souls, may preserve us and our posterity from wandering in error and darkness, and guide our feet in the ways of peace, by assisting us to procure a settlement of the worship of God among us, according to the pure doctrines, and wholesome rites and usages of the Church of England, which we highly reverence and esteem. We have struggled with many and great difficulties in advancing to the state in which we now are, to have a church erected, and so far finished as to be fit for our assembling in it, and with accessions to our number of professors sufficient to be enabled to purchase a glebe, and to pay twenty pounds sterling per annum to a minister, which we have obliged ourselves to do, by subscription, under our hands, and hope to make some additions, so the whole may be worth thirty pounds sterling per annum, which is the most that we are able to perform at present, and too little for a decent support for a minister. We have been much oppressed by the Dissenters among whom we live, who, under protection of the laws of the colony, have obliged us to pay taxes to their minister, and to build them meeting-houses, even when we had obliged ourselves to contribute, according to our abilities, to reward ministers of the Church of England for coming to preach among us, and administer to us the Holy Sacraments; and several have been imprisoned, and others threatened with imprisonment, to compel them to pay such taxes; and we could get no relief from the courts of justice here. This has made us very desirous to obtain a minister in orders among us, which is the only means to obtain exemption from such taxes, according to the express words of the colony act. We, therefore, exerted ourselves to the utmost of our abilities to assist Mr. Miner to go for orders, who was taken by the French, on his passage, with the Rev. Mr. Lamson, and afterwards died in England, which proved a very melancholy disappointment to us; and before, we had centributed considerably to assist Mr. Isaac Brown, when he went home for orders, with hopes that he might have been sent to us, but were disappointed by his coming back for Brook Haven. Since Mr. Miner's death we have applied ourselves to Mr. Ebenezer Dibble, by the advice of Reverend Mr. Caner and others. This gentleman has read prayer and sermons among us, to our very great satisfaction, for near a year and a half, and being willing to go home for holy orders, and to return to us, to be our mini.ster, we have again exerted our utmost power to obtain a glebe, subscribed for his support annually twenty pounds sterling, and do assist him further to defray the expense of his voyage. We have applied to the Reverend Clerqy to represent our state, who all of them approve well of Mr. Dibble, and having given him testimonials to the Lord Bishop of Loudon, we earnestly hope he may obtain holy orders, and humbly entreat the venerable Society to compassionate our circumstances, and admit Mr. Dibble to be their missionary to us, with such salary as they may think fit to allow, which we hope will contribute to the glory of God, and to the salvation of many poor souls, and we, your poor petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom by the extensive charity of your venerable Society. We are, Reverend Sir, your most obedient, &c.

John LLoyd,
Thomas Youngs,
Church Wardens.
And others.


The result of the above appeal was the admission of Mr. Dibble to priest's orders some time in the year 1748, and his return to Stamford. Here he, at once, entered with all his heart, upon the work of his ministry, as rector of St. John's parish, where he spent the rest of his honored and useful life.


In 1757, Mr. Dibble reports his parish, united and prosperous. He says: "We have sundry accessions to the church since my last of the 29th of September." It will illustrate the times to add from this letter the statements, - "I preached, last Christmas, to a numerous assembly. Multitudes of the dissenters came to church, and behaved with great decency. Seven heads of families have declared conformity since my last account, in Stamford, and some at Horse Neck and Stanwich."

The following plea to the Connecticut Assembly explains the disabilities under which the Episcopalians were laboring, and proved one of the steps which at length led to their recognition as a distinct denomination, entitled, in their own way, to support their own worship:

"Your memorialists, beiug desirous to enjoy the worship of God according to the liturgy and discipline of the Church of England, to which we conscientiously thought it our duty to conform, did, several years ago, undertake to build a church for divine worship, and engaged our present worthy incumbent, then not in orders, to read prayers to us, and afterwards sent him home to England, for orders, who accordingly went, and soon returned in orders to us, we having laid ourselves under obligations to pay him a considerable sum annually, towards his support, and for his expenses in going home, all which undertaking laid us under a considerable burden, which, however, we cheerfully endorsed, but soon finding we were unable to advance monies requisite to carrying on these designs, we ventured to borrow a considerable sum of money, in New York, for the purposes aforesaid, which, together with some benefactions procured for that end, we laid out in building our church, hoping we should bo able, in a few years, to repay the same. * * * But, soon after these transactions, the nation became involved in a dangerous and expensive war, * * * and not being by law empowered to tax ourselves, our church must still remain unfinished, and we are scarcely able to support our incumbent, who has a numerous family: Wherefore, we humbly take the liberty to request the favor of your Honors to grant us liberty to set up and draw a small lottery, of about £2,000, lawful money, subject to a deduction of fifteen per cent.; * * * we are strongly encouraged and almost assured, if we obtain this favor of your Honors, that we shall be able to sell the most of the tickets in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, and consequently bring money into the colony, rather than carry any out; and we conceive there is no danger of its being a prejudice to the public, or to any particular person."

May 9, 1759. Ebenezer Dibble, Clerk:
John Llold,
Peter Demill,
Ebenezee Holly,
John Bates, J
Ephaim Smith,
Samuel Jarvis

How this petition was treated by tlie Assembly the following complaint of the Rev. Mr. Dibble sufficiently attests : "But, alas, no such favor could be obtained, not even to draw a lottery in the government, if we should not offer a ticket for sale in it. And why? Not because it is repugnant to their principles, for they have given countenance to public lotteries, even to repair broken fortunes of private persons, and to help build up and establish an Independent College in the Jerseys, when they could obtain no such favor in their own proviiicip. But, alas, this was too great an act of favor to the Established Church."

In September, of this year, Mr. Dibble reports to the secretary of the society the peaceful and united state of his people in all parts of his extensive mission. The French war, however, was seriously interfering with accessions to the church, in Stamford the enlistments into the public service even diminishing the church; and what was still more trying, was the death of "twelve heads of families — seven males — some of them the best ornaments of religion." He reports this year thirty-nine communicants.

The next fact of interest orcurriiig in connection with this church in Stamford, I find recorded under date of April 10, 1765. John Lloyd, the same, doubtless, whose name appears as one of the vestry of the church, in 1759, in consideration of £343 6s. 11d., received from St. George Talbot, Esq., of Barn Island, N. Y., makes over "to the venerable Society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts "two tracts of land — one of eighteen acres one rood and twenty-three rods, in Northfield, on the west side of Mill river; and the other of four acres, twenty-nine at "North street, bounded south by North street, west by Church of England parsonage, and east by highway. These lands, by the terms of the surrender, were "to be and inure to the use of the missionary, for the time being, the rector or incumbent of St. John's Church, and his successors, as the glebe lands of the Church of England in said Stamford."

The following record shows how far the "ruling order" of that day was disposed to recognize and aid the Episcopalians.

At the meeting of the Congregational Society, held Dec. 15, 1772, it was voted that two collectors shall be appointed, the one to collect the rates belonging to the "Presbyterians" (Congregationalists), and the other those belonging to the "Church of England within this society." Jonathan Waring is appointed for the Congregationalists, and Abijah Bishop for "that part of the ministerial rate that belongs to the Rev. Ebenezer Dibble." The records of the Darien Congregational Society still preserve the receipts which the Rev. Mr. Dibble, of Stamford, and Rev. Mr. Learning, of Norwalk, gave to the society's collector for their part of the rates.

The following is a specimen of one of these receipts:

"Stamford, Jan. 5, 1779.

Mr. John Bell, and Mr. Samuel Richards, and Mr. Gershom Ricbards, Soliciting Comniittee in Middlesex parish, 1778 :- Please to discharge your collector, Mr. Jonathan Bell, Jr., on account of the rates he was to collect of the professors of the church. It shall be accepted in full of all demands upon your society in the year 1778, said rate made up on list, 1777.

Test., Ebenezer Dibble.

The foregoing is a true copy of the original.

Test., Gershom Scofield, Society Clerk."

And in 1780, we find the following witness to the temper of the town regarding the claims of the Episcopalians. The vote shows that the citizens were not yet ready to make extravagant concessions to the new order:

"Per vote: Whereas, Capt. Nathaniel Webb and Alexander Bishop, in behalf of themselves and the rest of the Episcopal Church in Stamford, made application to this town to grant them liberty to erect a decent fence around their church, at the distance of one rod from said building, the Selectmen are hereby directed to view the circumstauces thereof, and order and direct therein as they shall think proper therein."

Under the administration of Mr. Dibble and his successors, the parish was greatly prospered...

Page 388

This book suggests an incorrect parentage for Ebenezer, which I have omitted.

Ebenezer Dibble ... graduated at Yale in 1734, and the same year was licensed to preach by the Fairfield East Association.

We hear nothing further of him, — except that the First Society, of Stamford, passed a special, and apparently an exceptional vote, in 1741, giving him a vote in Society meeting — until we find him seeking orders in the Episcopal church. This appears in 1740, in a letter of Dr. Johnson, of Stratford, who writes, " I have heretofore desired leave for Messrs. Dibble and Learning to go for orders." But the next year, in a letter to the Bishop of London, after stating that he is alone in the ministry on the seacoast, for a distance of a hundred miles, and that his burden is insupportable, he complains that no leave has yet been granted to any to go home for orders," though there are five or six valuable candidates."

Under date of December 27, 1747, the secretary of the Society grants liberty for Mr. Dibble to go home for holy orders, and to take charge of our (Stamford) church, with that of Norwalk; the conditions being "that Stamford should pay ten pounds sterling annually for his support; and Norwalk should give security for twenty pounds more, with the actual possession of their glebe."

In the letter which gives us these items of intelligence, dated April 26, 1748, the churchwardens of Stamford urge their plea for the entire services of Mr. Dibble, on the ground that they appreciate his labors more highly than the Norwalk people, because he had already read service "among us steadily for two years and a half," and because " we have great esteem and regard " for him. They add, using their own italics, "we shall be very much gratified if we can obtain from the venerable society's great charity, his being appointed their missionary for our church." Again in this letter they say, "our people, from a hearty affection to Mr. Dibble, resolved cheerfully to undertake the expense of his voyage, and we have effectually secured the payment of twenty pounds sterling per annum to the society's missionary, according to our bond in Mr. Dibble's hand, and promise hereby to put him in possession of our glebe, which is better than that of Norwalk." If, however, the society should still think it better to keep the two parishes united under Mr. Dibble's care, they gracefully add, "we humbly submit, and shall be heartily thankful for any share in Mr. Dibble's ministry."

Mr. Dibble reached Stamford , October 25, 1748, after having taken orders in England. In his first report to the secretary of the society, November It, 1748, he mentions the cordial reception he met with on his return home. He speaks also of the offense which his course had given the Norwalk people, alluding probably to his unwillingness to accept the united charge of the two parishes.

Of Mr. Dibble's laborious service in his profession, we have abundant proof in his reports to the society. His zeal and labors must have been quite apostolic, extending to Norwalk, Ridgefield, and on the "oblong" between New York and Connecticut twenty or thirty miles, at the same time, faithfully ministering to the spiritual wants of his own parish.

In 1752 he received a call to the parishes in Newtown and Reading, with a larger salary than he was getting here. This call he refused. A similar call came, also, in 1760, from Rye, but could not tempt him to leave the Stamford parish.

On the opening of the revolution Mr. Dibble, as a matter of course, opposed the revolutionary move. As early as October 18, 1768, we find him in one of his reports to the society using this language:

"With pleasure I can inform the venerable board, of the peaceable, flourishing, increasing state of my parish, and of their firm attachment to our happy constitution, both in church and state, nothwithstanding party rage never ran higher; and under the specious pretence of civil and religious liberty, every art is used to throw us into all imaginable confusion, and to prejudice his majesty's subjects against the conduct of the government in being, and our religious constitution in particular. We hope in God for better times."

His position in 1775, on the opening of actual hostilities, is thus shown in another letter, of the 5th of April, of that year.

"We view with the deepest anxiety, affliction and concern, the great dangers we are in by reason of our unhappy divisions, aud the amazing height to which the unfortunate dispute between Great Britain and these remote provinces hath arisen, the baneful influence it hath upon the interest of true religion, and the well-being of the church. Our duty as ministers is now attended with peculiar difficulty — faithfully to discharge tbe duties of our office, and yet carefully to avoid taking part in these political disputes, as I trust my brethren in this colony have done, as much as possible, notwithstanding any representation to our prejudice, to the contrary."

While thus opposing the revolution with conscientious earnestness, I find no evidence that he was ever seriously endangered in his person and family, by what, he still spoke of as an unjustifiable rebellion. His personal popularity was probably his defense. Mr. Seabury, who afterwards became bishop, in speaking of the Episcopal clergy of Connecticut says : "I believe they are all, either carried away from their cures, or confined to their houses, except Mr. Dibble, who is gone to Sharon to be inoculated for the small pox, — possibly hoping thereby to enjoy a few weeks respite from persecution." However it may have been during the war, at its close he came forward and carefully acknowledged his allegiance to the new government and remained until his death a faithful churchman, and a successful and popular minister.

Testimonials to the gentlemanly bearing and christian character of Mr. Dibble are abundant. He was held in very high esteem by Christian people of every denomination. One of the lay patrons of the Episcopal Church who spent large sums of money and devoted much time to the welfare of the church he loved, who had made a tour of the churches with him in 1762, bears witness to the unwearied and unceasing labors in which he endeavored "to serve the interest of true religion and our holy church: — whose services I find universally acceptable, and his life agreeable to his public character."

The following record, on the monument in St. John's Church, is a just tribute to the worth of this successful minister of Christ:

"As a missionary of the 'Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,' he entered upon the duties of his sacred office October 16, 1748, and continued to discharge them in this capacity, with great fidelity and zeal until the close of the revolutionary war. Subsequently to this period he fulfilled his duties unconnected with the society in England until 1799 when he died full of years, in peace with God and charity with man - rector of St. John's parish 51 years.
He became endeared to all by his unwavering devotion to their best interests, his holy life, unremitted zeal in the name of Christ and his church."

Of the family of Dr. Dibble I have found on record only the following: A gift of land to Dr. Dibble in 1752, for his wife, Joanna fom Jonathan Bates, calls her "my loving daughter," thus preserving for us her parentage. The only children recorded to them, which I have been able to find, are : Ebenezer, born December 19, 1737; Joannah, born June 15, 1739; Fyler, born January 18, 1741; and Frederick, born in 1753.