This article is a continuation of Napoleon was a giant jerk! – Babb Unabridged.
I was able to retrieve the Trinity House records relating to Catherine Babb’s request for assistance while her husband Nicholas was a Prisoner Of War (POW) at Verdun in France, and they open up a whole new understanding of their struggles.
Let me start by making a correction. These records make it very clear that Nicholas didn’t die in 1808 as I had surmised in my recent post. The indenture of his children was due to his incarceration and the loss of income that accompanied it, not because of his death.
The records also contain an actual letter from Nicholas to Catherine while he was a POW. Items like this are exceedingly rare finds. To hear the thoughts and demeaner directly from the mouth of a person who lived over 200 years ago is almost unheard of.
New/Updated Facts coming out of these documents
In 1813, when these documents were penned:
1. Catherine was age 40.
2. Nicholas Babb was a Mate on the Merchant Service ship “Margaret”, which was on a voyage from Setúbal, Portugal (at the time it was called St. Ubes) to Cork, Ireland (About 700 Nautical Miles/800 miles/1300 km in all), when she was captured by a French Privateer on 10 Mar 1807.
4. The letter from Nicholas appears to be dated 22 February 1811, 1812 or 1813 (the last number is crumpled in the scan).
5. Only 6 of the 7 children were still alive in 1813.
6. While being held Prisoner, Nicholas had liberty to use the town and he was lodged with a local family for some time.
7. Nicholas had brothers and sisters who were still alive in 1813.
8. The ship “Margaret” hailed from Dartmouth in Devon.
9. Nicholas and Catherine Fitzpatrick were married on 25 Sep 1789 in Townsend Chapel, Dublin, Ireland. Using her maiden name, I was able to locate the original marriage record in Dublin. Nicholas’ surname was misspelled as Cabb, so it had previously evaded detection.
I’ve also located two Prisoner of War records for Nicholas dated 1807 and 1811.
Where does this leave us?
This updated timeline means that Nicholas lived at least until November 18th, 1813, when Catherine’s Trinity House application was approved. However, on 06 Apr 1814 Napoleon abdicated and was exiled from France. The prisoners appear to have been released at that time.
We can’t know for sure if Nicholas was able to reunite with his wife and family, but the hopes appear much better following the information that these documents shed light upon.