Saturday, October 25, 2014

52 Ancestors #44 - Butcher Pirate and Ghost or Respected Fisherman

The Isle of Shoals is a group of very small islands between Maine and New Hampshire. It is rumored that they were a hangout of pirates including the infamous Blackbeard. During this time southern New Hampshire and Maine were under the control of Massachusetts Bay colony. Appledore (formerly known as Hog Island) is the largest of the islands that make up Isle of Shoals. It is here that the ghost of Philip Babb was said to have haunted. Here is the legend of my alleged pirate ancestor. 

Philip Babb is "supposed to have been so desperately wicked when alive, that there is no rest for him in his grave. His dress is coarse, a striped butcher's frock, with a leather belt, to which is attached a sheath containing a ghostly knife, sharp and glittering, which is his delight to brandish in the face of terrified humanity." ~ Celia Thaxter, local historian

Philip Babb made his fortune from dunfish, cod that has been thinly sliced, salted, and dried. His house was on the south side of the island, near a cove. It is generally agreed upon by historians that he and his friend, Ambrose Gibbons (another ancestor) dug a large pit. Legend has it that it is where he found a treasure chest but it was too heavy to lift. "Smoke came from its lid when they tried to beak the lock." ~ Oscar Laighton, local historian. 

Some even name Philip Babb as the pirate in the legend of Ocean-Born Mary. Heather Wilkinson Rojo has written two excellent posts about the true story of Ocean-Born Mary and her haunted house (the one she didn't live in...but hey, who cares about the truth when there's money to be made). See links below for Heather's posts. 

On the other hand, I found these sources...
Pioneers of Maine and New Hampshire says:
Philip Babb took the oath of allegiance to the Massachusetts government on November 16, 1652 and served as constable for Isle of Shoals (except for Starr Island) also in 1652. He was one of the commissioners for settling minor cases. He died on April 24, 1671 and his wife died not long after his death. 

This hardly makes him sound like a notorious criminal. 

Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire
Babb, Philip, prominent fishing master at Isles of Shoals (Hog) from 1652 or earlier until his death. Local magistrate. In 1668 Roger Kelly was bonded for abusive carriages toward Mr. Babb and his wife; in 1671 Lawrence Carpenter for cruel usage of Mary Babb's servant. 

And of his son
Babb, Sampson (2), Portsmouth. Lists 334a, 335a. 339. Will 1736-1739. Perh. m. 3 wives: 1st "Elizabeth," in list of church [p.72] members bef. 1708, likelier the minister's error for Sarah (wife of (2); Sarah, named as mother of Esther; Grace, named as mother of Benjamin and in will, prob. Grace (Taprill), widow of Israel Hoit, dau. of Robert and Abishag (Walton) Taprill. Ch. Sampson, m. Dorothy Hoit, dau. of Israel and Grace (Taprill).

This line needs a lot more work to solidify the documentation. Still, I think it's safe to say that Philip Babb was more likely a respected member of the Isle of Shoals community than a blood-thirsty pirate turned ghost. 

Philip Babb
Sampson Babb & Elizabeth? or perhaps Sarah? 
Sampson & Dorothy (Hoyt) Babb
John & Alice (Babb) Waterhouse
Richard & Lydia (Waterhouse) Garland
Isaac & Alice (Garland) Hayes
Richard & Rebecca (Greenwood) Hayes
Sydney & Apphia (Cole) Hayes
George & Anna (Rowe) Hayes
Estes & Eva (Hayes) Yates
Linona Alice Yates - my grandmother


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