Edwin Sinel Babot

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Edwin Sinel Babot


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Edwin Sinel Babot, who was born in Southampton and eventually settled in New Zealand came from a seafaring Jersey family, and was baptised and brought up partly in the island. His baptism record from 3 July 1833 in St Helier shows his name as Edward


Family

Edwin Sinel Babot was born in Southhampton in 1833 and educated at Greenwich College.

He was the son of Captain George Babot, who was born in Jersey in 1800, the son of Jean Babot and his second wife Marie Le Sueur. Jean was the son of Arthur Babot and Charlotte Sall. Their origins are unknown, but there is no evidence of their being born in Jersey.

Babot is a common name throughout France, although not in the regions closest to Jersey - Normandy and Brittany.

Not only was Edwin Babot's father a ship's captain, but so was his uncle Nicholas, his elder brothers George and James Charles, and his cousin George John.

First voyage

In 1846 Edwin Babot made his first saltwater voyage as an apprentice aboard the 670-ton ship Catherine, and four years later was appointed Second-Master of the Catherine; doing business in the Indian Trade.

He joined the ship John Bunyan in Liverpool as second mate, but before leaving the Mersey had to take the position of chief officer. His first command came in 1855, the 981-ton John Bunyan, a position he held for two years; eventually resigning to become a maritime coach ashore, where he was engaged in preparing marine students as officers for examination.

After two years he again resigned his position and took a position as Chief Officer aboard the 175 foot, 737 ton Wild Duck; making his first visit to Wellington, New Zealand. He then arrived in Auckland, New Zealand as master of the ship Maori, and to Lyttelton in 1864 as commander of the William Miles. He became known as one of the most skilful and popular commanders of sailing ships under the Shaw, Savill, and Albion Company's flag.

Prisoner

Until the outbreak of the American Civil War Captain Babot remained in the colonial trade as a mate and master, then became a part owner and commander of the Spanish clipper ship Lovebird; sailing from London with a cargo of contraband consisting of 75,000 Enfield rifles and a large quantity of ammunition for the Confederate forces.

Successfully running the blockade, he entered the harbour of Matamoras, between Texas and Mexico on the Mexican coast. The voyage had a disastrous ending, with the ship and cargo being seized by the French Government; and Captain Babot being held prisoner for 12 months.

Cuban blockade

On his release he almost immediately chartered a Spanish steamship, which he loaded with the firearms. Successfully running the Cuban blockade, he made his way to Havana, Cuba and turned them into cash and soonafter he was able to reclaim his former ship, the Love Bird, as the seizure had been declared illegal. The Lovebird was loaded with sugar, and sailed for Le Havre, France, and after unloading her cargo, he returned to London, where he sold the vessel.

Water Nymph

Marriage

He then sailed back to New Zealand, in command of the Water Nymph; the first direct ship to land cargo at the Bluff. The Water Nymph was later lost when she was wrecked on Oamaru Beach in New Zealand.

Captain Babot's next ship was the 2,092-ton Hydaspes, and for over 13 years he sailed between England and Australia and New Zealand.

In May 1873 Capt Babot married Elizabeth Falle in Hackney, London. She was a Jerseywoman and had previously been married to Philip Binet, and had two children, Elizabeth and Philip. The family all sailed to New Zeland and on to Sydney in December of that year. She was living in Hackney when she died in 1881. There is some suggestion that her widowed husband married again but we have found no record of this.

Shipwreck

Disaster struck when the Hydaspes was sunk off Dungeness near Kent, after being run into by a steamer. In 1880 Captain Babot made a voyage to Wellington, in charge of the Northumberland.

In 1880 Captain Babot was in charge of the construction of the large steamship Kent in Glasgow for Money, Wigram and Company. He commanded the Kent on two voyages from London to Australia and New Zealand, and was then appointed as Marine Superintendent for the Shaw, Saville and Albion Company in London. In 1884 he was appointed as the company superintendent in New Zealand and held that position until about 1903, when he retired on a well deserved pension.

His was a short retirement because on 23 April 1903 he died at his home on Hobson Street in Wellington, New Zealand, at 70. He had been suffering ill-health for some time and thought his health would improve with his retirement from an active business life. He died a widower without any children.

The crew and passengers of the Sultana (Royal Thames Yacht Club), owned by Edward Birbeck, in 1864, when under the command of James Charles Babot (second right) it sailed to Spitzbergen with a party of naturalists including Alfred Newton, a renowned ornithologist at the time and Professor of Zoology at Cambridge. Newton was a disciple of Darwin's theories.
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