Doctor When? – Phillip’s ancestors in Newfoundland – 1584!

While reviewing Jean’s papers I’ve found a few references to Newfoundland Babbs that take the Newfoundland story back further than I ever imagined.

There is a Thomas Babb (of Newton Abbot) that was doing business in Newfoundland as far back as 1584! Because of Y-DNA research, this means that an ancestor of Phillip Babb (1) of the Isles of Shoals was in Newfoundland almost 70 years prior to our first record of Phillip in the US! For context, that is 214 years before the other Thomas Babb (of Newton Abbot) who owned property that he was leasing in 1798. This is just blowing my mind!

In Jean’s letters to England, she posed a question about Thomas Babbe, who was the master of a ship known as Jonas. On 21 Oct 1584 the 60 Ton ship made entry from Newfoundland into Exoniensis (Latin for Exeter), which is the nearest major city to Newton Abbot:

I believe the Thomas of 1620 is the captain of the ship Hopewell, which has always stood promise as a connection, but we’ve never been able to find any proof yet. However, the Thomas Babb of 1584 would be:


Thomas Babb (born bef. 1544)

We have a few touchpoints for this Thomas. He is the son of John Babbe (1475-1544) who heads the pedigree named Devon Pedigree (Newton Abbot 1555). A fun fact on John Babbe; he is one of the witnesses of the Newton Abbot Charter. A prestigious place to be included!

Thomas is #4 in the report below. Like many trees of this timeframe, the details are few and far between. The tree dies out in the 4th generation but is succeeded by 18 other fragmented trees. Together, they likely make up the entire family unit as time progresses.

They would definitely connect to the Thomas Babb of 1798. So, let’s look at him.


Thomas Babb of Newton Abbot (abt. 1754)

Now, as for Thomas Babb of Newton Abbot in 1798, I’ve already mentioned that he was the Fief holder for Wolborough (part of Newton Abbot Parish) and was exceedingly generous having given the money for the church to be built, that he happens to be buried in. This Thomas was born about 1754, likely in Wolborough where he held the Fief. The last male born out of the 1st pedigree in 1588, so there is currently a gap of 166 years to bridge. The many other trees of Newton Abbot may provide those answers eventually, but they haven’t given up their secrets at this time.

In closing

Know that we still need a Y-DNA test to prove a formal connection between the Newton Abbot Babbs, Thomas Babb of Newfoundland & Phillip Babb of the Isles of Shoals. However, this is a very promising lead and the thing that makes the most sense is usually the real answer.

An additional point. Thomas of Newfoundland that started my search cannot be the same Thomas of Newton Abbot from 1798. They both had families in their respective hometowns.

New steps, we need to figure out how to leaflet Newton Abbot to find a Babb there to test!


Source for 1584 Record of Thomas Babbe: GENUKI: Some Evidence of Trade between Exeter and Newfoundland – extracts, Devon
Header GIF: Doctor Who (in case that was lost on you).

3 responses to “Doctor When? – Phillip’s ancestors in Newfoundland – 1584!”

  1. The Thomas from Newton Abbot never settled in Newfoundland. He was involved in the fishing and owned many boats and property. His father captain Abraham Babb purchased Hortons Plantation but there is no evidence of either settling. I believe the
    Captain Thomas who was on the Briton is probably the Thomas who did settle.

    • It is true that Thomas never settled there, but when you buy land so far from home, who do you trust to manage it for you? Your children, your brother, your uncle. At least that is the way I think. It shows the likelihood of a connection and the Fishing Babbs are the ones that made it to America/New Foundland.

      There may not be a document that literally proves the exact names of those that came over. This is like watching Game of Thrones. You never learn the names of the individuals, but instead focus on the house names.

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