Isabel Babson (1579 - 1661) MP

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Birthplace: London, Middlesex , England
Death: Died in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
Occupation: Midwife
Managed by: Thomas Shirley
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Isabel Babson

Isabel

  • Birth: July 1 1579 - London, Middlesex, England
  • Death: Apr 6 1661 - Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
  • Cemetery: First Parish Burial Ground, Massachusetts, USA
  • Parents: unknown
  • Spouse: Thomas Babson

From http://www.babsonhistorical.org/GENCUST/TH10/t10g0001.htm

Isabel (--?--) was born circa 1580 at England, based on her age at death. She died on 6 Apr 1661 at Gloucester. Mr. Chamberlain, in the 1934 Babson Genealogy, stated that she was aged 81 years at the time of her death, however no source was given for this statement.2 She was buried in 1661 at Gloucester although the exact location of her grave is unknown. A simple stone has been placed in the ancient Bridge Street Burying Ground in memory of this courageous woman, an honored and beloved citizen of her community, whose memory lives on as an inspiration to her many descendants. This stone gives her birth date as 1 July 1579. Her estate went through probate on 25 Jun 1661 at Gloucester.3,4

The surname of Babson is extremely rare in England. It is possible that after Isabel and her sons left there was no other family that bore the name of Babson left in the country. When one considers that in 1637 Isabel was a widow with a married daughter, two unmarried sons, aged 25 and 15, and had lost her youngest daughter three years previously, it is not surprising that she elected to undertake a new life in the colonies. One may also add the fact that there had been serious outbreaks of the plague in England as well as an unsettling economic depression and "harassment by overzealous Church officials."5

The Weymouth Port Lists do not tell us the name of the vessel aboard which they came, but the Captain was John Driver, and they sailed from Weymouth, England in April of 1637.6 Isabel arrived at New England with her sons Richard and James.7 She lived first at Salem. The earliest known record of her in this country is dated 25 September 1637 and appears in the Salem town records. "Isabell Babson desires admittance to become an inhabitant." Isabel probably first settled at Salem as it was her port of disembarkation. The only information concerning her four years there emerges from two court cases.8

Isabel (--?--) served her community as a midwife.

Isabel (--?--) was in court on 24 Sep 1639 at Salem. John Woodbury, Peter Palfrey and John Balch, three of the Salem selectmen, brought a civil suit against her. Although the records do not specify the charge, this type of case often involved property.9 Isabel and her son James were still at Salem in 1641. She was in court on 29 Jun 1641 at Salem when she brought suit against John White. Samuel Colborne testified on the case. Although no specifics are given, the usual suits involved debts, defamations, trespassing, mending of fences, allowing "tippling" at one's house, etc.10 She was in court before Jun 1642

They had moved to Gloucester by June of 1642 when James Babson, along with Abraham Robinson and William Brown "of Gloucester" were involved in a court case This move may have been brought about by the arrival from England during this time period of her daughter Joan (Babson) Collins, with her husband John, and their children. It is also possible that the town officials of Gloucester offered her inducements to settle there because of her profession of midwifery.

After Jul 1642 Isabel (--?--) purchased land at what is now at 75-77 Front Street, Gloucester. The lot at Gloucester Harbor, which Isabel bought from Gloucester selectman Thomas Milward, had formerly belonged to Thomas Ashley. Ashley's lot had been attached by Mr. Milward on 12 July 1642 in the first insolvency case in the Essex County Courts. Isabel probably purchased this lot soon after July 1642. A portion of this lot is situated at what is now 75-77 Front Street and continued in the family about a century and a half.11

Isabel (--?--) was granted land in 1644 at Main Street, Gloucester. Her dwelling, a little to the west of Porter Street, was located at what is now 69 Main Street.

Isabel (--?--) was in court again on 30 Mar 1657 at Gloucester. Her descendants are most fortunate in having an extraordinary account in Isabel's own words fully preserved from a record -- a distinction reserved generally for a Winthrop or a Spotswood or other colonial governors. As a neighbor and midwife, Isabel had been asked to testify in a scandalous court case in which Thomas and Margaret Prince accused William Browne of causing the death of "Goodie" Prince's unborn child. William Browne was found guilty and was forced "to lie in prison one week and be fined twenty marks and pay costs to Thomas Prince etc." These words of Isabel afford us the only true glimpse into her character, her religious beliefs, her compassion, her medical knowledge. The fact that she was literate is verified by her ability to sign her name, a true achievement in her day.12 Administration on the estate of Isabel Babson, widow, late deceased, was granted to her son, James Babson, on 25: 4: 1661 [25 June 1661]. The inventory of the estate of Isable Babson of Glositer, taken by Samuel Delaber [Doliver] and Phillip Stainwood and sworn to in court by James Babson, before Hilliard Veren, cleric: "The Vallue of those lands and goods com to twenty seven pounds, six shillings" on 9 Apr 1661. As a tribute to her memory, Roger W. Babson established the Isabel Babson Memorial Library on Main Street, which specializes in books for expectant mothers.

She is also remembered through the Isabel Babson Maternity Wing at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester.

Children of Thomas1 Babson (1) and Isabel (--?--) all born at Wookey Parish, Somersetshire, England, were as follows:

  • i. Rose2 Babson; baptized 17 Jun 1606; buried 24 Jun 1606 at England.
  • 2 ii. Joan Babson, baptized 9 Oct 1608; married John Collins.
  • 3 iii. Richard Babson (2), baptized 6 Sep 1612; married Anne Savadge.
  • iv. Thomas Babson; baptized 27 Oct 1614;13 buried 4 Jan 1614/15 at Wookey Parish, Somersetshire, England.14
  • v. Sarah Babson; baptized 31 Dec 1615.15 There is no further record.
  • vi. Thomas Babson; baptized 14 Feb 1618/19.16 There is no further record.
  • vii. James Babson (3), baptized 7 Apr 1622; married Elinor Hill.
  • viii. Anne Babson; baptized 11 Dec 1625;17 buried 10 May 1634 at Wookey Parish, Somersetshire, England, buried as Agnes, daughter of Isabel Babson, widow (the names Ann and Agnes were interchangeable at this time period).18
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Isabel Babson's Timeline

1579
July 1, 1579
London, Middlesex , England
1605
1605
Age 25
England
1606
June 17, 1606
Age 26
UK
1623
1623
Age 43
England
1661
April 6, 1661
Age 81
Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
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