Old St Nick Makes some Lemonade

While matching the list of now extinct Wills from Devon, I ran across a cluster of 3 records that helped prove a connection that was previously unknown in our tree. They looked like this:

Year of RecordNameLocationDetail
1712Thomas BabbSt NicholasAdministration
1712Geoffrey BabbSt NicholasWill
1735Barbara BabbSt NicholasAdministration

Before I begin, I should point out that you won’t find St Nicholas on a map, though it does contain the modern city of Shaldon. It is, in fact, a small Parish near the mouth of the river Teign and a nearby neighbor of the Parish of Newton Abbot which is much larger and also contains the earliest Babb records in Devon.

Thomas is a very common name in our tree, so I started with Geoffrey, but got only an indirect match for a Jeffery who died in the same location in 1756. He was also married in Highweek (In Newton Abbot Parish) in 1732 to Barbara Short (who is also the only Barbara in the area).

In 1747 this Geoffrey took on an apprentice named Mary Dart. He is listed as Jeffery Babb of St Nicholas, Mariner. Mary was likely helping keep his household after his wife Barbara died in 1735.

Because of the Barbara / Geoffrey connection I decided to look further. There was no other Geoffrey (under any of the manifold spelling variations) in the area so it seemed as though something was missing. I theorized that The Will of Geoffrey Babb dated 1712 was actually the father of Barbara’s husband Geoffrey (Jeffery). This potential father Geoffrey would have been at least 21 years of age to have any property with which to file a Will of his own. So, his Date of Birth is “before 1691.”

As I mentioned, the younger Jeffery was married to Barbara Short in 1732, so his Date of Birth would at the minimum would be before 1719 and more likely before 1712, which also happens to be the Date of the Will of the potential father.

In an attempt to prove the theory, I had to track down who this Thomas was. This is a very small Parish and with just 4 Babbs in the area they must be closely related. Geoffrey and Barbara are uncommon names in the tree. As I mentioned, Thomas is the exact opposite as there are often too many of them to make a decisive connection. The only more common name is John and thankfully there wasn’t one of those in the mix.

The Thomas Connection

As these are relatively early dates, I first looked through the entire list of Thomas’ looking for possibilities and adding bookmarks when finding a potential match. I ended up with 4 Thomas’ this way, which is better than I expected. One of the records stood out to me as the most likely possibility.

Next, I turned to create a collection of all 19 of the disparate trees located in Newton Abbot/Highweek (This is really easy to do in Family Tree Maker). It is the epicenter of Babb life in the area and a much larger town than most all of its neighbors. Out of the 284 people in these combined trees. There was exactly one Thomas that fit the bill.

Thomas was part of a well-documented and very large family of 16 children (11 Males and 5 Females). Thomas being the 12th child in the family, it is no wonder that he would have struck out looking for new horizons. We have known histories of 5 of the 11 boys. Thomas is one that no further information was available until now. He has a brother whose name in the transcription of the Baptism Record is listed as Gregory. Gregory also had no further record of his life after baptism. The corroborating evidence is too great, in my opinion, to conclude otherwise.

This Gregory is, in my opinion, the missing father Geoffrey who died in St Nicholas in 1712. I’ve merged the two and made a note of how I arrived at this decision in case it needs to be revisited in the future as more information becomes available.

This is the sort of Lemonade that I’ve been hoping to make through this epic adventure through time. St Nick and I are happy to provide it to you!


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