The American Revolution, Newfoundland, Pirates in Portugal, Waterford, Phillip Babb (1) & Me On My Ear!

It is hard to imagine how all of these stories could convene, but they have! I’ve always assumed that the Newfoundland Babbs were loyal to the Crown and as the American Revolution began, they left America for safer territory in Canada. There is just a single family in Newfoundland, Thomas & Esther Babb who gave birth to their first child John on 28 Oct 1776, just months after war broke out.

Having now sorted the New Brunswick Babb tree out as descendants of Phillip (1-5-3-4) I come back the article that served as my inspiration. In the coming paragraphs, you will learn how first pairing the New Brunswick connection allows me to better predict the history of the Newfoundland Babbs.

Geography Lesson

Because American’s are notoriously bad at Geography, let’s cover that first!

Just left of center in the lower map we find Calais, Maine which is across the river from St. Stephen, NB, Canada. In the bottom right we find the town of Harbour Grace on the Island of Newfoundland. Above that you see the mainland outline of Labrador. The two combine to become the Canadian Province (like a State) of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We’ve already discussed Calais and are done with that. Labrador doesn’t come into this discussion at all, except that it is the name of the province.

Newfoundland DNA

You don’t often hear me discuss the Newfoundland Babbs because we have been stuck, genetically speaking for many years. We can see that they are related to Phillip (1) Babb of the Isles of Shoals (Lions of the Sea). But we aren’t able to predict a connection. The Y-DNA revealed that the New Brunswick and Newfoundland Babbs are not closely related. I had written that off to the lack of Y-DNA tests from one of Phillip Babb (1) of the Isles of Shoals descendants has never been found.

This article turned my understanding and theory on its ear!

Regardless, I found the most titillating article (as much as that can happen in Genealogy) that lies at the intersections of all these things. I’m not sure how to explain it all, but I’ll give it a try.

The Document

I was doing some research in Ireland for an upcoming post, which is one of the many “Asides” that I mentioned recently, and found this 1777 article in The Waterford Chronicle (of Waterford, Ireland) which has been digitized by The entry is brief and comes from Portsmouth in England (Not America). The English propensity to name colonial cities after existing cities in England serves as a great source of consternation for me.

The full page is available below. Start at the Red Dot near the top of the 2nd Column:

Click to See Full Sized Image
The Waterford Chronicle – 02 May 1777

These few lines sent me into a virtual maelstrom as I worked to gain an understanding of what I was seeing. I had a dozen questions, first of which was, what was the author trying to say? I’m not versed in Naval lingo, so I researched each word to uncover the full meaning.

What do these words mean?

I had to parse these words to try and unveil their meaning. So, let’s look at it in detail:

The Ship True Briton, captained by a Babb, the ship was built and first launched in Newfoundland. It was Taken [read captured] November last [1776] is carried to Boston [America, not England].

The next part took some time to discover, and I had to run it by a historical shipping specialist who had written an article about a ship with a similar name. He informed me the ship’s name, True Briton was not unique, which is why the name of the captain and the location it hails from is so important to identify this particular ship.

He pointed me to Lloyd’s list. 1776-1777, which contains an account written Captain Brathwaite, of the Hampden Pqt. dated 10 Nov 1776. Remember in old English the “f” was actually an “s” in most cases.

American Privateers were working to disrupt English Shipping and return the ships to the US, likely to combat Britain’s far superior naval power. In fact, the new American Government had put a bounty out on English ships. The True Britton was using the waters off the coast of Portugal for their exploits, which is where the True Britton was captured.

We find some additional detail in an article in The Edinburgh Advisor. The captain is revealed as Thomas Babb of Newfoundland. We also see that the ship was on its way to Malaga carrying fish when it was captured.

As a reminder, the head of the ONLY Babb family in Newfoundland is Thomas Babb. So, he is our man! It shouldn’t have been a stretch of the imagination that anyone who lived on an island would have likely been in shipping, especially in the rich fishing waters of this area.

The Edinburgh Advisor – 29 Nov 1776

The True Blue was captained by William Cole of Marblehead, MA, who had just been commissioned on 30 Aug 1776. In the ensuing 72 days it came to capture between 8-12 ships to be sent back to the American Colonies.

This next account is the most thorough and seems to indicate that Thomas Babb was not amongst the captives which were put on a fishing boat. You can pick up the story near the bottom of the 2nd column.

The Derby Mercury
Derby, Derbyshire, England
15 Nov 1776

The successful run of the True Blue came to an end when it was captured by an English Frigate on 19 Dec 1776, thus ending the exploits of William Cole as its Master. In his short reign of just 111 days, he wreaked havoc.

Key Takeaways

We now know just a little about Thomas Babb of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland:
1. He is a sailor. This should have been readily apparent given the fact that Newfoundland is an island, but now we know he was a ship’s captain.
2. He might have been friendly with the US Babb families prior to the revolution, but once they seized his ship, I think it doubtful that he would have maintained good terms with them.
3. Thomas survived the war and lived until at least 1800 in Newfoundland. His family continued to live there, and many descendants still do.

What next?

To find Thomas’ real connection to the Lions of the Sea we need to dig further. Stay tuned for my next post on the topic, which promises to turn your ideas of this on its ear!

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