What we lost in Doddiscombsleigh

One of our greatest Babbs of Devon mysteries is who descends from the Babbs of Doddiscombsleigh. The known road leads us through the remote village that is almost impossible to find without a Satellite and a phone signal. It lies several km from Exeter. If not for some records that failed to make it to Exeter’s Principal Registry prior to its complete destruction in 1942 by Nazi scum (I don’t mince words), we wouldn’t know anything of their Lordship.

As I process the lost wills of Doddiscombsleigh I find a total of 5. I should note here that the line of descendancy is relatively well documented. However, in 1697 the last of the Babb Lords of the Manor [John] died without issue and passed on his estate to those without the Babb Surname.

It seems that by 1697 John had already survived his brother William by 30 years who appeared to have died without issue. He also had survived his sister Marie by 52 years. His sole remaining Sister Agnis had married Richard Ducke they also had passed some 40 years before John’s death. However, they did bear two documented offspring, Philip & Richard, both of which when on to raise their own families.

Chapel window at Parish Church of Doddiscombsleigh

Despite the lack of descendants in John’s immediate circle, we continue to see Babb records pop-up in this small rural town, which indicates that John likely had relatives beyond his immediately family that would have continued to carry on the Surname after his death. This could only have been done through one of his cousins, or through a descendant of one of the offspring of his brother and sister’s that he intentionally excluded from his Will.

It is against this backdrop that we find 5 Last Will & Testaments that might have shown us the way. Without them we can only guess as to what might have been contained within. All but one was able to be matched with a person who existed in the tree already.

Babbe alias Hixte [Hext]
Merged with
Wyllyam Hext Alias Babb
born before 1538
Wyllyam Hixte [Hext] alias Babb is believed to be the same person who would have written his will in 1612 in Doddiscombsleigh. There is only a handful of people who have ever been recorded with both surnames and he is the sole person who would have used both surnames to not have a will or death date on record.
Alice Babb
Added to the Tree
as a new person
It is unknown whether Alice’s maiden name is Babb and no other person matches this location or in any other place in England at this early date.
John Babb
Merged with John Babb
born after 1543
John is likely a non-Inheriting Heir of Doddiscombsleigh, to the best of our knowledge.

The potential for descendants exists here.
William Babb Sr
Merged with William Babb Sr (1588-1667)William appears to be one of the Babbs who continued as Lord of the Manor. However, the contents of his will, like the others, is unknown.

The potential for additional non-inheriting descendants exists here.
William Babb
Merged with William Babb
born aft. 1601 – died 20 Apr 1683 (according to Manor records)
This is the brother of the John Babb, the last Babb Lord of the Manor of Doddiscombsleigh. William died a little more than a decade before his brother John. His children are not mentioned in John’s will. This document might have provided additional context on their cousins who would eventually have to carry on the family name as this branch died out.
We can see that the family name continued after the paper trail runs cold. Lacking any evidence that provides additional context we may not have a good position to ever determine how this lineage connects to the other Babbs in the area. I hope that at some point we will have been able to unite a great number of the fragments of trees in the area and a picture will develop that will show us the way.

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