When was Phillip Babb of the Isles of Shoals (1) really born?

A keen reader noticed a little confusion about the birthdate of Phillip Babb of the Isles of Shoals. There are a few entries that appear contradictory to each other in Babb’s Rock (Volume 1 of the Babb Unabridged series). Let me start by saying good people disagree on how to show this date and at times I’m on both sides of the argument. My opinion has evolved over time and I made a decision right before publication that left this sounding a little confused. I’ll try to sort it out below.

The 1634 birth date

Our first record of Phillip Babb that we can unequivocally say is “our Phillip” happens in 1652, when he was made Sheriff of the Isles of Shoals. It is assumed that he was at least 18 years of age at the time to hold such an important position. So his birthdate would be before 1634. In certain places (such as charts) this gets abbreviated to b 1634. By the time that he died Mary Bailey and him had fathered 5 sons.

Just before publication, I thought better of a previous theory, which I called “Two Phillips”. Ruth Harrington had about taken me out one day during the 2009 Babb Family Reunion in Devon, England, when I suggested that there might be two Phillips instead of the one we know of. There is lots of circumstantial evidence that could point to this being a father/son combo, but nothing that could prove it.

Hearing Ruth’s voice from the grave saying “You can’t prove that!” I removed it before publication. Up until this point, I had shown Phillip of the Isles of Shoals as “1” and the Phillip we see in England as Phillip “0”. There are two different wives

The 1629 marriage date

We have a marriage record of a Phillip Babb in St. Saviour Church in Dartmouth, Devon, England. We do not know that this is our Phillip Babb, but most circumstantial evidence points to this. The real problem here is that the Phillip Babb who married here did not appear to have lived here. The wife Marie Plumlie was born and raised there, but virtually no other Babb record in the area seems to exist. It is reasonable to believe that this Phillip was at least 13 when getting married and likely older.

The 1614 birth date

Now cross reference this with a birth record of a Phillip Babb in Stepney, London, England in 1614. Many researchers have seized upon this record and made it the chiefly reported date. But thus far, there is no conclusive evidence that our fisherman Phillip (1) is this same Phillip in the record. Is it reasonable to say that there is only 1 Phillip Babb in all of England at this time?

Two Marys

At some point, I thought the two wives Mary and Marie were the same person, which seems to stump many researchers as well. However, Marie Plumblie could not be the mother of the shoals children because she would have been too old to give birth to the boys. We have her birth record in 1608.

The Final Answer

So, the final answer is that I have shown the alternate birth dates because although any of these theories is plausible, none of them are proven. I use the Before 1614 birthdate as the most plausible, given that the Association has concluded that the Phillip who married in Dartmouth, England is our Phillip (1). However, I don’t yet see evidence of the Stepney, London connection being substantiated. London is an extremely large city and not exactly a fishing village. It does have access to the English Channel through the Thames, but it is quite a distance inland and, to me at least, seems inconsistent.


It is my hope that one day we will be able to have a better grasp of the Babb lineages in England. I am just now starting work on that topic in preparation for my next volume on this very topic. We have identified 5 distinct lineages of Babb’s in England and I soon hope to be able to identify their homeland counties. Stay tuned for more!

2 responses to “When was Phillip Babb of the Isles of Shoals (1) really born?”

  1. Hello,

    My grandmother was Nona Pearl Babb, ggrandfather Harry Gordon Babb, gggrandfather Alonzo Reese Babb son of Reason Smith Babb. I believe I’m a direct descendant of Peter Babb. My DNA results though Ancestry.com seem to confirm that.

    I would be curious to know what you’ve learned about Philip Babb I or Philip Babb II. Are thery the same person or father and son.

    • Is Alonzo born in 1857 in Ohio (sisters Clara & Mary)? If so, we need to talk about the details of your tree so I can update my records. I currently only have a fragment of that lineage from the 1870 Census and would love to complete that picture.

      As for my theory of the two Phillips, I still don’t know the answer, but am zeroing in on the possible connections in England, through a process of elimination and DNA research. Once we can establish to which DNA line we belong then we can look through it for possible entry points.

      Please send me a GEDCOM (of Family Tree Maker file) of your Babb tree so that I can properly link you in. Source documents are always appreciated.


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