The Family that Apprentices Together, Stays Together.

The only one of the 3 identified Devon Y-DNA lineages that is modern enough to be included in the available newspapers.com collection is that of the Falcons of Fremington, which is currently only as far back as 1844.

The newspapers in this county go back as far as 1800, so there was adequate time to capture some details about its Progenitor, Samuel Babb (1781-1844).

I took a shot and did a search. I was rewarded with additional context for Samuel’s life and that of his daughter Ann.

We do not know exactly where Samuel was born. We pick him up in his 17th year as he marries his first of 3 wives Mary Shambrook in Bideford. Five months later he and Mary deliver their first child, John in Monkleigh. This wasn’t uncommon in the time as you may be considered married prior to when the clergy came around to make it official. In rural areas it might be several months between visits. So, there’s no scandal there.

Also, know that the outskirts of these two towns are a mere 0.3 km (1000 feet) from each other. So, they likely didn’t move. The difference is likely accountable to the registration district of the time.

Samuel is also associated with the neighboring villages by the names of Barnstaple, and of course, Fremington, where the lineage of the Falcons was founded. They are all closely nestled and as we have seen in the Newton Abbot/Highweek area, there was a great amount of interaction with those several kilometers away.

Enough with the background.
Let’s get to the story!

Samuel appears in The North Devon Journal-Herald of Barnstaple on 26 May 1842 in the annual meeting of the Barnstaple and North Devon Agricultural Society. Samuel is listed on the next to the last row as having served Mr. Puddicombe for the last 26 years. While it isn’t clear from this snippet, it appears to be Robert Puddicombe that he continued working for so many years after his apprenticeship.

26 May 1842

This article was recorded just two years before Samuel’s death. From it we can surmise that he was on this farm from approximately 1809 until his death in 1844. This accounts for the 26 years of service listed as well as the typical 7-year apprenticeship employed in those days. It is unclear if he had opportunities beyond the farm, or if he was treated like a sharecropper after the US Civil War. However, I believe it was more like the latter. We can’t know for sure with the available data. From an outsiders perspective the landowners were bestowing nominal prizes to recognize their servants who otherwise were likely paid near starvation wages. While many were passed over, they had the fortune to be recognized. As they say at the Oscars, it is an honor just to be recognized. It’s a convenient way to say something special without having to lay out actual cash to give them their due. But maybe I’m jaded? Who knows.

However, the story doesn’t end there! It seems that just a bit before Samuel’s recognition at the event his daughter Ann was also recognized. In 1840 she received a similar recognition for having live after his apprenticeship with Mr. Puddicombe. She received 15 Shillings in recognition.

This amount was roughly 3 days salary for the average worker. It comes to roughly £140 in today’s money. While nothing to be sneezed at, it is a pittance for the Landowner who reaps the real profits.

30 May 1840

What we can see is that like father like daughter. Ann followed in her father’s footsteps. She apprenticed and then continued to live with and work for Mr. Puddicombe for 5 years after her likely 7-year apprenticeship.

For full context I’ve included the entire page below:

Ann was married in the 3rd Quarter of 1839 to James Acland, and they are buried together sharing the same headstone.

There isn’t much more info about these two, but it gives us a peek into the lives of the first generations of the Falcons of Fremington.

This line, though one of the newest of the bunch has been rather fruitful and now accounts for 571 people.

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