How Many Ways Can You Spell Bixby?

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Researching a Surname with Varied Spellings – Bixby

Researching a family tree gets complicated when you run into spelling variations. Here’s a case study with Mary Bixby who links into our family through the Babcocks to our family. Here’s the line: Mary (Bixby) Babcock, then Ezra B. Babcock, then Nancy Jane Babcock (who married Henry Vining).

This happened to me with Mary Bysebe who also showed up as Mary Byxby, Mary Byxbe, and Mary Bixbe. From the dates, I was pretty sure that all of these were the same Mary, but how could I decide which was the correct spelling of her last name.

Continuing on with her line would be difficult if I chose the wrong spelling. Are you a Bixby or perhaps a genealogists with a similar name confusion?

If so, read on and I hope we can straighten it out.

My First Encounter with the Bixby Name and the Variations

Source: familytreemaker.genealogy.com

I was searching industriously on ancestry.com, following the Babcock name. When I reached Ezra Babcock, it listed his mother as Mary Bysebe. As it brought up further family trees that overlapped Ezra Babcock’s parents and siblings, I saw other variations of Mary’s last name.

One tree listed her as Mary Bysebe, another as Mary Byxby, and even one with Mary Bixbe. I was guessing that Bixby was the correct version since one of her children had Bixby as a middle name.

Bixby is also spelled

Bixbie, Bixbee, Bixbe, Bixbey, Bigsby, Bisbee, Bekesby…

She’s listed as the daughter of EBENEZER BYXBE and HANNAH BABCOCK. I found that quite interesting that her mother was a Babcock and then Mary married a Babcock. I haven’t yet figured out the relationship of Mary’s mother and her husband.

Following the Bixby Name Back to the 1300s

In reading the old documents of the 1700s, I see the name spelled differently even within the same will. The “e” and the “y” are used interchangeably in a number of common words. This is probably where some of the confusion originates.

  • Information about John Bixby
    John Bixby was born in 1475 in Thorp Morieux, Sussex, England. This page shows the church where he marries Alice Paxson in 1498. Click on the site to see a better picture of the church.
  • Information about Walter Bixby
    This page shows Walter Bixby, born in 1390 in Thorp Morieux, Suffolk, England. His father is listed as John Bekesby (another variation of the name).

Mary “Polly” Bysebe/Byxbe/Bixby

Birth: 8 Jul 1799 in Pennsylvania, Somerset, Pennsylvania, USA

Death: 13 Jul 1851 in Wabash, Wabash, Indiana, USA

I don’t know that this advertisement has anything to do with our Bixbys, but just included it for some visual interest.

There’s a book titled, A genealogy of the descendants of Joseph Bixby, 1621-1701 of Ipswich and Boxford, Massachusetts, who spell the name Bixby, Bigsby, Byxbie, Bixbee, or … Bekesby, 1427, of Thorpe Morieux, Suffolk. It’s quite likely that this would answer all our questions on Mary Bixby and her last name. The whole book is available to read online or can be downloaded for Kindle or as a PDF.

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2 thoughts on “How Many Ways Can You Spell Bixby?

  1. JamaGenie

    Funniest thing, I have a Joseph BIXBIE and wife Sarah GOULD in my database but no dates, only that their dau Sarah BIXBIE (b. 3 Aug 1685, Boxford MA; d. 10 dec 1774, Eastham, Barnstable Co, MA) was the 2nd wife of a James HIGGINS (1688-1777) of Eastham, MA, and that they married 12 Dec 1726 at Eastham. Are these your Bixbys?

    I’m no relation to the BIXBIEs. They’re only in my database because James Higgins was a Mayflower descendant of Thomas ROGERS, who was a direct ancestor of one of my LY & GW Co MORRIS, CUPP, DENHAM and WATSON shirttail cousins.

    I’ll leave the spelling as “Bixbie” as this was apparently the spelling used in the area at the time. Spelling a name consistently across all records wasn’t a big deal in earlier centuries, partly because a good part of the population was illiterate, and partly because the records were of local origin and everybody in the immediate area knew whom the record referred to.

    It’s always a shock to genie newbies at the total lack of consideration long-ago ancestors and records-keepers had for those of us trying to find them hundreds of years later! Imagine that! 🙂

    For the “proper” spelling, I simply use what looks to be the most common, but note any variations I find for future reference, especially for non-Anglo immigrants.

    Like

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