Recorded in several spellings as shown below, this is an early English surname. It derives from the pre 7th Century personal name "Babba", of uncertain etymology, but perhaps a nursery name from a child's babbling. The name is found several placenames, including Babbacombe in Devon, and Babington in Somerset. Another source says that the surname may be derived from the medieval female given name Babb or Babbs, a pet form of Barbara, itself from the Latin "barbarus", meaning foreigner. What is certain is that it is amongst the very earliest of hereditary surnames in the late 12th Century. These recordings include that of Richard Babbe in the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire in 1230; Ralph le Babb in the Memoranda Roll of Wiltshire in 1299; and Walter le Babbes in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1327. The modern surname can be found recorded as Babe, Babb, Babbe, and the patronymic Babbes and Babbs. Recordings from surviving church registers include the marriages of William Babe and Catherine Tomsone on September 10th 1587 at Harrow on the Hill, and of Thomas Babb and Mary Curl on January 31st 1729 at Holborn. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alwinus Babbe. This was dated 1198, in the tax rolls known as the Feet of Fines of Suffolk, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known to history as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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