John de Babecumbe of Exeter in 1238

John de Babecumbe (an early variation of the modern spelling of Babbacombe) shows up in one of the entries in a book published by the Devon & Cornwall Society (Vol 28), subtitled Crown Pleas of the Devon Eyre of 1238. An Eyre was a traveling circuit court in the Middle Ages (aka medieval period). The Middle Ages are recognized to run from the 5th to 15th Century.

The entry is short, so be sure not to miss it at the end of the page, Number 774. I’ve marked it with a red dot to make it easier to find.

Apparently, this William de Gatespathe seems to have been a bad actor who made a false appeal. He was fined 2 marks. I’m not certain if marks refers to what we would call lashes in the early US, or was some form of currency.

If you know that answer please speak up and I’ll update this article.

Why is this significant?

It shows that the Babbacombes were circulating in the same areas as the Babb(e) families in a period before Surnames were in common use. This bolsters the argument that we are all descendants of the people who lived in Babbacombe prior to surnames becoming common in the 1300-1400 timeframe.

One of the common ways people took on surnames was in describing the place they are from. Thus, John de Babecumbe translates in modern terms to John of Babbacombe. If a connection could ever be established via Y-DNA we could have certainty of this possibility. It would certainly explain why we are seeing a number of unrelated DNA lines appearing throughout Devon.

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