The English origin of Edward Babbitt, the immigrant ancestor, has long been uncertain.
Not even The Babbitt Family History, published in 1875, offers any meaningful guidance.
Edward Bobet-Bobbett-Babbitt, according to the history, first appears in Plymouth court records in 1643, where his name is found among fifty-four men aged sixteen-to-sixty able to bear arms.
Edward would have been a minimum of sixteen years of age, and is further described as having been “a mere boy” at Taunton. If Edward met the minimum age of sixteen in 1643, this would give the earliest possible birth year as 1627.
Edward’s next appearance in Plymouth court records comes from 1649, when he reportedly received payment for “stollen wampon”. Again, using 1627 as a birth year, he would now have been twenty-three.
In November 1652, Edward, yeoman, aged approximately twenty-five, purchased his first land in Taunton. Two years later, on September 7, 1654, in Boston, he married Sarah Tarne, daughter of Miles Tarne.
Beyond an approximate year of birth, 1627, there are few clues to follow to find Edward’s home town in England.
Once again, I am ever so grateful to those online sources — FamilySearch.org, FindMyPast.com, and especially TheGenealogist.co.uk — for helping me to not only locate his home town but also identify his parents and grandparents.
Edward’s fairly unique surname and the estimated year of his birth were key. He was baptized April 9, 1626, in Docking, Norfolk, England. His parents are Thomas Bobbet and Elizabeth Unknown.
It was correctly suggested in a few online sites that Edward’s father was Thomas.
However, pure confusion comes from another claim that Thomas and his siblings were all born in St Clement Danes, Middlesex, England — and that Thomas’s children were all born in Docking, Norfolk. Also, Thomas’s purported father, Roger Bobbet, had married in Norfolk County.
Although this scenario was not impossible it did seem unlikely.
The reality is that Thomas Bobbet was baptized July 30, 1598, in St Peter, Repps with Bastwick Parish, Norfolk, as were his siblings.
Thomas and wife Elizabeth both died in July 1636 in Garboldisham, Norfolk. It is possible that they both died from the plague, as the pestilence continued to ravage London 1636 to 1648 “without interruption” and was carried into the countryside as the urban population sought to escape it.
Four children, including Edward, apparently grew up in Garboldisham. However, as Thomas and Elizabeth Bobbet both died in 1636 when their oldest child, Edward, was under ten years of age, and their youngest child, Clementius, was less than three years of age, it is unknown who raised these orphaned children.
We can be fairly certain that it was not the Bobbet grandparents.
Thomas’s father was Robert Bobbet, born sometime around 1550. He died and was buried in March 1598/9 in St Peter, Repps with Bastwick, Norfolk.
Robert’s first wife, Jonne Feunt, whom he married January 18, 1572/3, in St Peter, was buried there March 20, 1586/7. Robert and Jonne had a son, William, who was baptized October 13, 1575, and a daughter, Catherine, baptized September 16, 1579, in St Peter. Catherine was buried there March 1598/9 before she reached her tenth birthday.
Robert married second, Dyanes/Dianes Unknown, September 20, 1587, in St Peter, Repps with Bastwick, Norfolk. They were the parents of Thomas and a second son, John, who was baptized July 13, 1588.
It is possible that the children’s uncle, William Bobbet, raised them. He would have been slightly over sixty in 1636. Their younger uncle, John, would have been forty-eight. And, of course, the children’s maternal family may have taken them in to raise.
In any case, an under-aged Edward Bobet-Bobbett-Babbitt made his way to New England by 1643, purchased land in 1652, and was married in 1654.
Sadly, Edward did not reach age fifty. Various sources repeat much the same story. On June 15, 1675, two days after King Philip’s War broke out in Swansea, Massachusetts, Edward was struck down by a party of Indians while traveling an old footpath with his family headed for the safety of Taunton.