The First Babbs of Barbados

I’m getting off the ground in my research of the Babbs of Barbados and am starting at the beginning and working my way through time towards modern day.

A Brief history of Barbados

Wikipedia says that the first English settlement was established as a proprietary colony and funded by Sir William Courten, a City of London merchant who acquired the title to Barbados and several other islands. So the first colonists were actually tenants and much of the profits of their labor returned to Courten and his company.[4]

The first English ship, which had arrived on 14 May 1625, was captained by John Powell. The first settlement began on 17 February 1627, near what is now Holetown (formerly Jamestown),[5] by a group led by John Powell’s younger brother, Henry, consisting of 80 settlers and 10 English laborers. The latter were young indentured laborers who according to some sources had been abducted, effectively making them slaves.

In the period 1640–60, the West Indies attracted over two-thirds of the total number of English emigrants to the Americas. By 1650, there were 44,000 settlers in the West Indies, as compared to 12,000 on the Chesapeake and 23,000 in New England. Most English arrivals were indentured. After five years of labor, they were given “freedom dues” of about £10, usually in goods. (Before the mid-1630s, they also received 5 to 10 acres of land, but after that time the island filled and there was no more free land.) Parish registers from the 1650s show, for the white population, four times as many deaths as marriages. The death rate was very high.

Sugar cane cultivation in Barbados began in the 1640s, after its introduction in 1637 by Pieter Blower. Initially, rum was produced but by 1642, sugar was the focus of the industry. As it developed into the main commercial enterprise, Barbados was divided into large plantation estates which replaced the small holdings of the early English settlers as the wealthy planters pushed out the poorer.

To work the plantations, black Africans – primarily from West Africa – were imported as slaves in such numbers that there were three for every one planter. Increasingly after 1750 the plantations were owned by absentee landlords living in Britain and operated by hired managers.[8] The slave trade ceased in 1807 and slaves were emancipated in 1834. Persecuted Catholics from Ireland also worked the plantations. Life expectancy of slaves was short and replacements were purchased annually.

First Babbs

Is is against this backdrop that we see the first Babb families pop up in the Parish Registers.

In 1682 John Babb married Sarah Cobbin, the first of 3 wives (Jane Evans and Constantia Thorn are the others) They married in Saint Michael Parish which is where modern day Bridgetown is located. Bridgetown is the largest city on the island. He proceeded to have at least 4 children (3 girls and 1 child who died at birth and who’s sex was not recorded) who’s baptisms are recorded in the Parish Registers.

On 20 Mar 1704 George Babb was buried in Saint Michael Parish. There seems to be no other records of George’s existence to know anything more about him.

On 27 Oct 1757 Thomas & Katherine Babb had their son Thomas Wright Babb Christened in Saint James Parish. Saint James Parish sits directly north of Saint Michael Parish along the coastline.

In 1762 Benjamin Babb married Margery Rowe in Saint Lucy on the north part of the island. Benjamin is the likely founder of the Babb Plantation found in this district though there are no records I’m aware of to prove exactly who the founder was.

On 18 Jun 1780 Thomas & Sarah Babb had their daughter Katherine Christened in Saint Michael Parish. It is unknown is this is the same Thomas above who married Katherine.

On 04 Jan 1793 Samuel Babb was laid to rest in Saint Peter Parish which sits between Saint Lucy and Saint James Parishes. Additionally, Robert Babb was laid to rest on 07 Jan 1793, so my best guess is that they were twins that did not live very long. There seems to be no other records of their existence to know anything more about them.


You can fill books with the things that I still don’t know about these early inhabitants and the records often lead to more questions than answers. But there are a few things that stick out to me.

John Babb is clearly the earliest Settler on record in Barbados.

It is very likely that everyone listed below him is one of his descendants, though there isn’t a paper trail to prove it.

You can see a steady progression north over time, which makes sense as Bridgetown started experiencing over crowding people struck out looking to get their own land or for new opportunities. They migrated north the entire time and eventually were located across every Parish north of Saint Michael.

I am just at the onset of this amazing journey and much more will be learned as we travel onward. There are almost 3 centuries of records still to go through and hopefully they will start to form a clearer picture for us. There are, of course other sources that we will discover over time.

Source for history of Barbados:

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