Thomas Babb (1620) – 1st Record in America

Today we discuss what appears to be the very first record of Thomas Babb who later owned the ship “Hopewell”. In 1627 we find him listed as both a witness and overseer of the estate of Robert Middleton. This record is important because it stands the potential to reveal where in Virginia that Thomas made his home.

The record comes to us via the Library of Virginia, where they hold a typewritten copy of a record that was originally filed in London, England.

There are several clues buried in this record. So, let’s deconstruct it.

It was originally recorded in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), which is in London. In addition to the locals, many important people filed their wills there from all parts of England.

Verso and Recto refer to the Left and Right pages respectively.

Robert mentions that £600 are in the hands of a pulley maker in Shadwell. Shadwell is adjacent to Limehouse where Thomas is known to have resided in London.

Additionally, a debt of £7 is due from a cooper of St. Katherine’s which, as you might have guessed, is in Limehouse.

At the end of the document there is a latin phrase which appears to read “infra regnum Virginiea Celibes”.

Infra = Below
Regnum = Kingdom
Virginiea = Virginia
Celibes = unmarried

This would explain why Robert is leaving his estate to a brother rather than his own children. There were none.

The mystery of this document however regards Robert Middleton living in Virginia. Given Robert’s penchant for buying pulleys, one might assume he was also a mariner and had property in both England and the US.

Thomas having been a mariner would easily have access to both locations and thus is a very suitable candidate to help oversee the estate on both shores. However, no direct mention of US holdings is made. Nor do records exist from that time period in Virginia, mostly due to wars and neglect.

A Census substitute shows Robert Middleton residing in the Virginia Colony in 1607, though it lists no additional detail.


While this attempt at uncovering where Thomas Babb (1620) would have settled in Virginia has failed to produce a location. It provides us with yet another touch point on his life and times. If at some point we are able to determine where Robert’s US residence was located it might help point the way to Thomas’ family unit. Alas, that is a revelation for another day.

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