Newfoundland Babb – The Origin Story, the Lions of the Sea & Newton Abbot

Continuing my work on the Newfoundland Babbs I perused further to see if any additional information was available on Thomas (NL1) & Esther Babb and couldn’t believe my eyes.

Thomas was NOT the first Babb in Newfoundland!

John Babb was recorded on the Island a full 97 years before Thomas’ earliest record. In 1681 & 1682 he is recorded in St. Johns which is North America’s most Easterly city. St. Johns faces the Atlantic Ocean and is the Island’s capital and largest city.

A detail map showing the distance between St. Johns and Harbour Grace
Courtesy Bing Maps

A short sail around the northern tip by Pouch Cove places you in Conception Bay where Harbour Grace is found. I feature that it is just what happened when the Pilgrims initially landed in Provincetown, MA and finding it inhospitable in winter they went on to Plymouth Rock. Conception Bay would offer greater protection for John and his family.

A few far more interesting angles to this story:

  1. Assuming that John of St. John’s was at least 21 years old in 1681, that would place his date of birth at before 1660. We know that Phillip Babb (1) of the Isles of Shoals died in 1671. John is not listed among the minor children at that time, which would mean that IF he is an undiscovered son of Phillip (1) he would have been born prior to 1650. The first recorded mention of Phillip is in 1652, so John, of St. Johns could have been born in either England or America.
  2. We can’t rule out that John could have been one of Phillip’s (1) brothers but would have gotten a very late start in raising a family if that was the case.
  3. Last, but certainly not least! The book contains reference to a Thomas Babb of Newton Abbot, Devon who became a landowner in St. John’s in 1798. There is only one Thomas Babb of Newton Abbot that meets that requirement and you’ve heard about him before right here (see below articles). While this is short of proof that John, of St. Johns, bears a direct relationship to Thomas Babb of Newton Abbot, it is the first real lead we have had in breaking the stalemate. Y-DNA testing can prove this relationship or disprove this theory.

Newton Abbot has its own cluster of disconnected pedigrees, but this lead stands promise to break the hunt wide open for where the Lions of the Sea originate!

Leave a Reply

Blog at