There’s something about Mary Baylie

Mary Bailie has somehow found her way into the common vernacular as the surviving wife/mistress of Phillip Babb (1) of the Isles of Shoals. While uncovering Phillip’s London based family, I discovered something that made me want to rethink her place and to see what we actually know about Mary Bailey.

Much effort has been put into trying to find Phillip’s history. But what about Mary?

Two Phillips or Two Marys?

I mentioned in a recent post about my long-held theory that there were either two Phillips or two Mary’s. The theory is based on a realization that Marie/Mary Plumlie cannot possibly be the mother of all of Phillip’s children on the Shoals. She would have had the last child at the age of 63. So it would take two Mary’s to have managed both side of the family. Shy of that I had pondered the possibility that Phillip was actually a Junior and that two different men to do all of the things that are attributed to him.

We now know that there was only one Phillip, so that part of the theory is dead and the Two Marys part seems to have come true, at least from outward appearances. I again return to that concept for today’s article.

#1: New Information

The information that came to light was that Phillip (1) had a daughter by the name of Mary in London. She was baptized on 21 Mar 1636/37 and bears the distinction of being the only child of Phillip not to have a burial record. As the baptisms and deaths are all available at the exact same church, it is curious that we don’t find a death record for her. If she lived, she would have been 35 years old at the time of his death.

It is known that women weren’t allowed on the Isles in the early days, so if she was to have come with him, she would have had to be located on the mainland with friends or relatives.

Looking back at the actual record I was shocked to find that there is NO apparent evidence that Mary Baylie even existed. Let alone that she was the wife/mistress of Phillip (1).

Jean wrote a brief 2-paragraphs that mention Mary, but she includes no last name. Here is what she had to say:

Notice that she does not mention the surname Baylie anywhere. It appears that Jean obtained this information from the Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire where Phillip’s entry reads as follows:

Once again there is no mention of a surname for Mary. So, as Step 1, I’m removing the surname Baylie from the database. The Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire is known to have consumed every available record for these two states, so there isn’t likely anything else to discover in state records. At least, that is the reputation it carries. It is a derivative of Charles Bank’s 2 published volumes on New England History.

As for the error, it would appear that I only have myself to blame. By 2009 I had picked up this information and added it to the tree when I put out the 4th Edition of Babb Families of America (Electronic ONLY Edition). It has sat there ever since. Until recently I had never dug into this part of the tree because so many genealogists have been over it and trying to establish this connection at least as far back as 1928 when it was published.

I have no idea of where I obtained this information, but there is no source information stored with her record. I’ll chalk it up to youthful exuberance and naivety.

#2: Question/Problem

I see a possible leap of faith that is made by both Jean and Libby (the author of the Genealogical Dictionary. There are 2 records displayed. They have used the first to interpret the second and assumed that Mary Babb is the wife of Phillip (1). However, an alternate answer is now plausible. Mary Babb in the 2nd record could actually be the daughter of Phillip (1) born in London. She would certainly have been old enough to have had servants by this point. I don’t think we will ever know with certainty, but it is interesting to ponder a more connected existence for Phillip than the isolated one we have always envisioned for him. This would leave the identity of Phillip’s (1) 2nd wife as unknown.

The only thing that is certain is that Marie Plumlie cannot be the same person as the mother of Phillip’s youngest children. She would have been 63 years old at the time of the last birth of Phillip’s known sons.

Regardless, I must amend my “Two Marys” theory and embrace a “Three Marys” theorem.

Women and Property Ownership in Early New England

Women were not allowed to own property independently in the Massachusetts Colony during the 17th century1. However, Massachusetts took women into consideration regarding its property rights laws. In 1787, it passed a law allowing married women, in limited circumstances, to act as femme sole traders2Maine extended married women property rights by granting them separate economy and then trade licenses in 18443The battle for women’s property rights and ownership was one of the longest and most significant, stretching from the 1700s to the beginning of the 20th century4.

This means that Phillip’s widow would be left without a means of support after his death. This could have contributed to her own demise, but the record is unclear. The same could be said for his daughter Mary as she would not be able to inherit anything.

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