W.R. Dibb’s family in Siam

Before being transferred to Phrae, Mr. W.R. Dibb had as his second wife, Miss Nue Oun-Daj (a local woman), who was called ‘Lao’ in those days. While they were never officially married, they had lived together for more than ten years. This may be due to the fact that in those days a European who married to a local would be most probably accused of ‘going native’ and would be ostracized by the elite European community. Such situations would be difficult to accept for any European living in northern Siam at that time. This kind of attitude was shown in a correspondence of Merrifield and Archer, about Louis T. Leonowen’s behavior, as mentioned by Bristowe in his book ‘Louis and the King of Siam’ which read:[i]

“W.J. Archer, the Vice Consul, who had regarded him as his closest friend in Chiengmai, thought ‘he was going native’ when he met him driving openly in the streets with Chao Chum beside him and Chao Phat in front on his way to make merit at a Buddhist temple. ‘To hell with Archer’, Louis must have thought when he received no further invitations to his home because of openly displaying a local wife.” (Note: W.J. Archer was a British Vice Consul in Chiang Mai from 1886 and later became Consul from 1896-1897)

One more passage in the same book can be interpreted along the same lines:

“Macfie was 43 before he was officially married in 1913 and was very hurt that his friends did not call on his Lao wife”(Note: D.F. Macfie was a manager of Borneo co. ltd. in Chiang Mai since1899. His wife name was Kam Mao. The couple had together three children, all born before they were officially married. He died in Chiang Mai in 1945)

The same attitude can also be noticed from the following advices gave to Leigh Williams, a newcomer, by a senior teak wallah during Christmas holidays in Lakon: [ii]

“You wouldn't believe what some of these fellows (foresters) spend on the wenches. They get all sentimental and chivalrous-like about them, instead of regarding them as a bloody but necessary nuisance!.........These girls, though they know more about prevention than most people, always try to have a kid as soon as possible, as they think it gives them a hold on you. Then the kids must be clothed and fed and educated. Why, some of these chaps even send them to school in Europe. So you watch it, my boy, or you'll find yourself a not-so-proud father in no time!"

As Ms Nue’s grandchildren we could still remember her as a small, gentle and kind lady. She wore long hair and always combed it to the back of her head and tied it into a bun. She usually wore a white blouse made of sheer lace and a local style, dark striped, skirt. Mr. Dibb and Ms Nue had four children, in addition to an elder son from Mr. Dibb’s previous Thai wife. Tragically two of their children, Bun Yen and Bua Kieng, died at very young ages in Phrae.

[i] Bristowe, W.S., Louis and the King of Siam (London: Chatto & Windus, 1976).

[ii] Leigh Williams, Jungle Prison (Andrew Melrose, Stratford Place, London, 1954)

The War Memorial in front of the British Legation building in Bangkok was unveiled on Jan. 10th, 1923. It was attended by His Britannic Majesty's Minister Robert Greg.

Gabriel Mawk Dibb in a group photo (third row, 7th from left) with the British Legation's staff, in front of the British Legation building, Bangkok. Inside the Legation compound there was a War Memorial with names of 25 brave men including William Reginald Dibb, Gabriel Mawk's father, who gave their lives in the Great War. This War Memorial is now moved to the British Club, Bangkok.

Gabriel Mawk Dibb and Mary Magdalene Sangwan Gross on their wedding day.

Gabriel Mawk Dibb's identity card while working at the British Legation, Bangkok

Gabriel Mawk Dibb

Mr. Dibb’s eldest son from his first wife was born in Lakon (or Lampang) on August 15th, 1902, just ten days after the aforementioned Shan attacked Lakon. He was named Gabriel Mawk Dibb. During his childhood he attended Saint Gabriel's boarding school in Bangkok and later acquired a career at the British Legation.

Gabriel Mawk Dibb was married to Miss Mary Magdalene Sangwan Gross on November 7th, 1925 and had altogether nine children namely Gabriel Wilfred Chitt (1926-2017), Frederick Reginald Nimitmonkol (1928-1988), Francis WilliamVimollerd (1929-1971), Leonora Prasertsri (1931-2013), Charles Lewis Maneerat (1935-1970), Lily Angelene Manatkasem, Lawrence Prempreecha, Stephen Winston Narayuth, and Victoria Vajanee.

Gabriel Mawk changed his surname from Dibb to the Thai surname Dibbayawan on July 23rd, 1940, in an attempt to adapt the Dibb name to something befitting a naturalized Thai citizen. Gabriel Mawk Dibb died in 1948, while Mary Magdalene Sangwan died in 1992.

Gabriel Mawk Dibb with his children, just before he passed away in 1948 (all Photos about Grabriel Mawk courtesy of Joseph Dibbayawan)

Dawk Eung, in her late fifties, and some of her children. From left: Suay, Tavisakdi, Silp's wife Pranee, Dawk Eung, Santipong, Ram and Suay's wife Nipa with her child, Sunisa

Diane Dawk Eung

Mr. Dibb and Ms Nue’s first child, Diane Dawk Eung, born in 1906 in Phrae, would later attend Wattana Girls School in Bangkok and after finishing her studies, married Mr. Sutin Woratham or Burmese name So Tin, the son of Maung U Po a Burmese subject working for the Bombay Burmah company.

They also had a total of nine children together namely Silp (1925-2016). Suay (1927-1964), Bunjira (1931-2017), Ram (1934-2019), Dusit (1937-2012), Tavisakdi, Santipong, Pakin, and Rangsan.

One of Dawk Eung’s grandchildren, Warut 'O' Woratham who is the son of Ram, later became a well-known Thai actor. Warut first gain his success as a model before establishing his acting career in the role of Japanese soldier, Kobori, in the romantic-war movie 'Khu Kam' or Ill-Fated Love. But it was unfortunate that he died young at fourty nine, in 2018.

Dawk Eung (Dibb) Woratham died in Lampang in 1988, nearly twenty years after her husband, Sutin, who died in 1969.


The last to arrive was Malee, the youngest child of William Reginald Dibb. Malee was born in Phrae, in May 1915, three months before her father left her to join WW1 in Europe, and later lost his life in Northern France three years afterward. At sixteen, Miss Malee married Mr. Kiet Wattananikorn, also a forest assistant like her father. Malee's interesting life as a forester’s wife, who unfortunately lost her father at a very young age, is presented in the next section.