The Babbs of Devon, England

At long last I have completed my canvassing of the Babb families of Devon and thus of the Babbs of England. As expected the great county of Devon holds a number of surprises. The most surprising of which is that at least 3 distinct unrelated lineages (The Falcons, The Good Shepherds and The Gryphons) of Babbs can be found within its borders. This is supported both by DNA evidence and the existing paper trail.

In all we currently find 33 different pedigrees in this county, 2 of which I added to encompass the Doddiscombsleigh and Totnes Babbs that many have visited as part of the Babb Reunions. For some reason they were omitted in Ian Babb’s list of Trees, but exist in his paper based research.

Many of these lines are no doubt related to the 3 DNA established lines, but the paper trail lacks evidence to conclusively prove the relationships. For this we will need more DNA tests. As always, if you descend from any of the Babb lineages in England, please contact me and let’s talk about getting your DNA tested.

The Babb Pedigrees of Devon are linked below for your review:

Along with the previous lineages I’ve posted in this series it brings us to 73 total pedigrees of English Babbs. There is also a line of Babbs of German origin in the US and another of unknown origin in Barbados that I’ve yet to document. This gives us 75 total known groups for which to truly begin our DNA research as we enter our new unified world of Babb!




The Gryphons (of Halberton, Devon, England)

Today I am introducing a previously unknown Babb lineage, which I have deemed the Gryphons. This line was recently DNA proven and becomes the 3rd independent lineage of Babbs in the County of Devon and the 7th overall.

new-babb-crest-gryphons-of-halberton-devonAs I mentioned in my posts The Somerset Dragons (of Somerset, England), The Falcon Babbs (of Devon, England) and The Good Shepherds (of Hatherleigh, Devon, England), every DNA Proven lineage gets its own mascot and crest. The Crest used to represent this great house of Babbs is NOT historic, but a modern interpretation of what a crest for this family might look like. In this case, I have drawn upon a mythological beast, which shares a lions body with the head of an Eagle. You will notice a striking resemblance in the lion’s body with that of the Devon Falcons, though the two should not be confused. The purpose of the mascots/crests is to help keep our conversations about these lines from merging accidentally.

This line is also known as Devon Pedigree 05 and is small but plucky with a number of distant destinations as the family spread out across the world. Please join me in welcoming this new line of Babbs to our fold and I hope you like the crest:





The Good Shepherds (of Hatherleigh, Devon, England)

Today we come to the tiny market town of Hatherleigh, which is not much more than the crossroads to Okehampton, Holsworthy, Black Torrington & Petrockstow (say that 3 times fast). It is the smallest town in Devon and lies about 20 miles to the south of the Falcon Babbs of Fremington. It is in this community that we discover the 6th DNA Proven lineage of Babbs. You could be forgiven for thinking the two were related, but they aren’t…at least genetically speaking. There could be stronger ties from before surnames came into play, but as to those we can only guess.

new-babb-crest-good-shepherds-of-hatherileigh-devon-2016-02As I mentioned in my post The Somerset Dragons (of Somerset, England) & The Falcon Babbs (of Devon, England), every DNA Proven lineage gets its own mascot and crest. The Crest used to represent this great house of Babbs is NOT historic, but a modern interpretation of what a crest for this family might look like. The market in Hatherleigh sells sheep, cattle and poultry and the city is closely aligned with its identity as the Shepherds. I have drawn upon this identity for the crest, which features two golden fleeced sheep in a pasture, which are protected by a lion hidden in the wheat. This represents the gentle power that it takes to tend to a flock.

This 6th DNA Proven lineage is also known as Devon Pedigree 02, which dates to Edward Babb born 1675. So, without further delay meet the Good Shepherds:

dna-06_-good-shepherds-of-hatherleigh-devon (also known as Devon Pedigree 02)

So, you may ask yourself what the first 3 DNA Proven lineages of Babbs are. I’ll get into that on another day, but in short they are the lines we find in America that were where we started this quest. They are those of Phillip Babb of the Isles of Shoals, Maine; The Maryland Babbs and the combined lines of the Eastern Virginia & North Carolina Babbs. I plan on revisiting those once I’ve dispensed of the next 29 trees in other parts of Devon.



Partial Source:

The Falcon Babbs (of Devon, England)

Today I’d like to introduce you to the first DNA proven lineage of Devon, which is also known as Devon Pedigree 01. We stumbled across this tree in one of our early DNA attempts when we didn’t yet understand the complexity of the Babb line in Devon. We had mistakenly believed that we could connect Phillip Babb of the Isles of Shoals, Maine with one of the Devon lineages by doing a DNA test.

What we found instead was yet another line. Which seems to keep happening, but we will get there eventually.

new-babb-crest-devon-falcons-of-fremington2016As I mentioned in my post The Somerset Dragons (of Somerset, England), every DNA Proven lineage gets its own mascot and crest. The Crest used to represent this great house of Babbs is NOT historic, but a modern interpretation of what a crest for this family might look like. It draws upon a popular theme in English heraldry, which is the Falcon. Using mascots will help everyone to remember which lineage they are a part of. Only lines proven via DNA have a mascot and crest. The line dates back to the villages of Fremington, Barnstaple, Bishops Tawton & Monkleigh which are all nestled within about a 10 mile area in North West Devon.

The image is a golden falcon landing on the side of fortress that is protected by royal lion. Remember it as a “Falcon Fortress in Fremington”.

Remember that these are works in progress and that families have at times become entangled. I’ve done my best to sort that out and am submitting it for your review and update. If you have an update please make a comment on this post and I’ll review it and update as appropriate. Know also that there are other lineages of Babbs in the nearby area that ARE NOT related. So, make your assumptions carefully.

With all that said, let me introduce you to the 5th DNA Proven lineage of Babbs, the Falcon Babbs:

dna-05_-falcons-of-devon (Also known as Devon Pedigree 01)



The Babbs of West Midlands, England

ian-henry-babbThe West Midlands is a metropolitan county, or in other words a city that is also a county. In 2014 the West Midlands boasted a population of 2,808,356 and stood as the second largest county in England. If you think about it for just a moment you already know which county outranks it. The city of Birmingham lies within the West Midlands, as do Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton (the city with the cutest name ever!). All of these places figure prominently into the attached pedigrees. I don’t know Ian Babb’s (pictured) motivation for setting these apart from the Babb lineages of Staffordshire, but I wanted to preserve his work and not mess with the political boundaries.

All of these locations figure prominently into the 3 Babb lineages we find here. There was a forth, but under closer examination it was a duplicate of one of the previously published lineages in Staffordshire. This isn’t really a surprise as the West Midlands was founded in 1974 from parts of Staffordshire County. So, the two are inextricably linked despite the modern naming conventions.

Speaking of names, two of them stuck out to me while pulling the pedigrees together. Phoebe & Job. These names are common in some of the Staffordshire Pedigrees I listed earlier this week, but are virtually unknown to the other Babb lineages outside of the area. It was these names that allowed me to formally pull together the duplicate tree I mentioned earlier, though the exact connection proved elusive on the others. Think of them as one in the same tree, which they most likely are.

The 3 remaining lines of Babbs in the West Midlands are:

For those of you who have been following this project, you will know that alphabetically I’m finished. But I had earlier bypassed the great county of Devon, knowing that its sheer mass and complexity would have overwhelmed me in the early stages of this project. Knowing that nothing could be worse than the Jeffrey mess of Staffordshire, I now head to the South West corner of England to visit what is believed to be the most ancient of Babb locations. Thus far I’ve completed 10 counties, 34 new pedigrees, 2952 new members to our tree. But I’ve just passed the halfway mark in the total number of pedigrees. There are 31 in Devon alone. Some will be big and hopefully some will be small. It could be a folly, but it’s gonna be fabulous!

I’m off! (Totally!!)

The Babbs of Staffordshire, England

ian-henry-babbI have struggled so much with this seemingly endless collection of Jeffrey Babbs. No where else in England have I seen such a confusing array of similarly named people. I’ve done my best to make sense of it all and am very pleased to have finally completed canvassing Staffordshire County, which lies in the Midlands near the geographic center of England.

A curiosity is that one of these lines contains a member by the name of Sampson, which I’ve only ever seen in Phillip Babb’s line from the Isles of Shoals. That is far from conclusive evidence and we will be seeking DNA test candidates from these lines in order to understand how they fit in to the larger picture.

Ian Babb (pictured) outlined 6 lines of Babbs in Staffordshire, which account for over 800 people:

With the addition of these lineages I am not just half way through the total number of Pedigrees Ian provided through his research. However, we only have 2 counties left. Next up is the West Midlands, which is adjacent to Staffordshire and finally the great county of Devon, which is host to roughly 30 pedigrees. I have no idea what size of trees are in store for me, so keep your fingers crossed that it goes more smoothly than Staffordshire!


The Science & Art of family trees in today’s world

As I wonder through other peoples research looking for tidbits of info, I see a variety of methods employed by previous researchers that they found helpful before the advent of computing. Some of those have endured through to this very day.

I’m very particular about how the data appears in my database and wanted to share a little insight to help everyone improve their search results. First off, it is very important to realize that are not just working in your family tree. You are preparing a database and the old adage of “Garbage In, Garbage Out” really applies here.

The file I started on last night is for the Staffordshire Babbs and it typifies these outdated approaches that actually stand in your way of finding the right records to prove your family tree. Here are some hints on how to be more successful in your searches.

Rose by Any other name:
Your Great-Aunt Rose married a Fitzpatrick, though no one wants to be reminded and they forget his first name. Entering his name as “Unknown Fitzpatrick” or “<no name>” only hinders your ability to locate their marriage license. This happens because the actual record doesn’t say that. If you instead leave the first name blank and only enter “Fitzpatrick” you have a chance that your record search will turn up the real record. But as there is no Unknown Fitzpatrick listed in their database you might not locate the match. I use Family Tree Maker and, which does a much better job of suggesting records these days than in the past. You must always look at those with a critical eye, particularly on common names. But at times they can really help you break through the wall.

Another variety of this is the word “Living” having been substituted in place of the first name to indicate that the person is still alive. The problem is that the database you are looking at could have been last updated 30 years ago and Living is no longer the case. But you will never know because you don’t have the correct name.

My best practice is to strip out any references to “Unknown”, “<no name>” and “Living”. I enter the first and last name only for those born after 1940 (The most recently available US Census) or who I am aware have already passed. If their birth record has become publicly available there is no hiding from it. Different places do this completely differently. In Texas your birth certificate is opened to the public after 50 years. But in Alaska it is 100 years. Alaska hasn’t been in the US that long, so has never released a birth certificate. If it appears from your file that the person may still be alive, Ancestry will automatically restrict access to this information. It keys on the death date.

Where on the map is GRATWICH (Baptized 9-1-1842)?
I found a wide variety of this type of entry in this file. It’s a practice I hadn’t seen Ian use previously, which means he may have gotten this data from another researcher. Always be aware of what information you are entering into your file and be very careful with any sweeping file merges. Often researchers did a lot of shorthand when writing trees out by hand and what you see above is a great example. I happen to know Gratwich

is a city in Staffordshire, but most others would be hard pressed to come up with it. What if, for example the entry just said London, Middlesex? Would you assume this is London, England? That is logical, until you find out that the family had moved from England, to Canada and located in the City of London, which is in the district of Middlesex in Ontario, Canada. Now everything is in doubt and room has been left for misinterpretation.

In the Gratwich example, the researcher has left us a tidbit of info that isn’t usable in the map field. It is necessary to add a fact for Baptism and relocate the data to that field.

My best practice is to always complete the full place name in a consistent predictable order. I’m no Elizabeth Shown Mills, but here are a few tips on how to enter the place name.

  • Always use Commas between each level as that is how the mapping software knows how to break it down. Semi-colons and periods just mess the whole thing up.
  • Always enter the full location as presented in the source document: City, County, State, USA
  • For Church documents, or to list the hospital or cemetery name it is best to include those in the accompanying Description Field. The hospital will often not come up on the map, but the City will.
  • Don’t use abbreviations or leave out part of the full place name. Any acronym you think makes sense, may not to a fellow researcher. This is especially true of sources. The researcher needs to be able to relocate the same information using your source info. Your goal is to make your research repeatable should someone need to retrace your steps.
  • Your birth and your baptism are two different events. Enter them separately and don’t mix the dates up.
  • Your death and burial are also two different events. If you have both records record them accurately. There are many periods in history where the church record stood in place of a Civil document. This is fine, but if you only have a record of the Church Burial on  11 Oct 1906, you can enter that in the Burial Fact and the Death fact is “About 11 Oct 1906”. Same goes with the Birth and Baptism.
  • While I’m on the topic of dates, never leave a date open for interpretation. 10-11-1906 could either be Oct 11th or November 10th depending on where in the world the entry came from. The Genealogical Standard is to remove all doubt and record it as 11 Oct 1906. By spelling out the month you remove the possibility of misinterpretation.
  • Finally, church locations can be tricky, especially in English records. I see lots of places where the map location is the name of the City, Church, County, Country. The problem is that this isn’t a place on a map and the mapping software can only reconcile it to the Country level, which isn’t very helpful. Reversing the Church location into the first spot is more technically correct and allows the mapping software to bring your records to the city level and gives you a better chance of making a connection with other branches in the area.

If it isn’t apparent by now, I’m a little Obsessive Compulsive about the way I keep my tree. With 20,700 people and 4,000 place names, I’ve had lots of practice and time to perfect my approach. It takes more time to go and do it the right way, but I feel it is extremely important in helping to make the connections and bring our full tree into view. It is a blend of Art and Science that will help you break through on those tough to find ancestors.