John Libbey

was the son of John and Mary Libbey.  He was born in 1781 and died March 28th, 1785 at the age of 4 years.  His mother died 4 months later.

taken 2015

In Memory of
John Libbey
Son of John & Mary
Libbey Died March
28 th 1785 In y e 4 th
Year of his Age

The New Hampshire Genealogical Record

In Memory of
M rs Mary Libbey
wife of
M’ John Libbey
Died July 21 st 1785,
Aged 35 Years

There is no stone left in the Point of Graves for Mary Libbey.


There is not much known about John and Mary Libbey. There are many John Libbeys (or Libby) in the New England area, so it makes it difficult to locate which one is the parent of this child. I did find some interesting things during my research. Things to contemplate.

We know from the recorded gravestone inscription of Mary Libbey, that she died in 1785 at the age of 35. That would make her birthdate around 1750-1751, depending on if she had already celebrated her birthday before she died. There are several newspaper articles mentioning her death.

A John Libbey married Mrs. Deliverance Stewart, November 6, 1785… less than 4 months after Mary Libbey’s death. She is mentioned in the Last Will and Testament of Cordwainer* John Libbey of Portsmouth, dated July 24, 1788 and probated September 17, 1788. There are many newspaper notices of his death, the earliest dated September 9, 1788. The reports state his age at death to be 36. That would put his date of birth at 1751-1752 depending on if he had already celebrated is birthday or not. Notice the closeness in ages to Mary Libbey. Also note that the spelling of the name is used interchangeably – Libbey/Libby.

Listed in his Will is a daughter named Mary Libbey and a sister, Sarah Libbey. He also mentions a James Holmes, son of William and Mary Holmes.

There are christening records for John Libby and Sarah Libby. Both were christened in Portsmouth on July 30, 1758. Their mother’s name is given only as ‘Libby’. No father’s name is given. Christening dates are not birth dates. Anyone can be christened at any age. It is possible, considering no father’s name is given, that the mother had the children christened into the church when they were older. She may have been unwed and was giving legitimacy to her children in the Eyes of God and respect in the community. She may have been a Spinster who took in the orphaned children and gave them her last name. These two could potentially be the James Libbey that wrote the Will and his sister, Sarah.

I do not find a birth or christening record for Mary Libbey. Considering how adamant John is in his will about his daughter and sister having “lawfully begotten” children in order for the children to inherit, I am assuming that Mary is ‘lawfully begotten’. That would mean she was born at least 9 months after he married Deliverance or she was born prior with a first wife. Daughter Mary might be the reason John married so quickly after his wife died. The little girl needed a mother… assuming he had been married to the Mary Libbey that died July 1785.

Who is James Holmes listed in John Libbey’s Will? We know from the Will that he is the son of William and Mary Holmes. A James Holmes, son of William, was christened in Portsmouth August 20, 1775. Again, christening records are not birth records, so this record cannot determine James’ age. If this is the James of the Will, then he would have been at least 13 years old at the time the Will was written. Who was he to John? What relationship did John have with his parents?

What is really interesting is that James Holmes married Deborah Bartlett Libby August 20, 1801, who gave birth to a son they named ‘William’ in 1806. Deborah Bartlett Libby was christened May 23, 1779, along with her brother, John Bartlett Libby. The name of their father is given as ‘John Libby’.

And if things could not get any more stranger, I cannot find a birth/christening record for John Libbey born in 1781. I do find a record for James Libby, christened April 22, 1781 in Portsmouth. If this child died March 28, 1784, then he would have been in his 4th year of age, not having had his birthday yet… just like the John Libbey buried in the Point of Graves.

All of these facts put together could make a nice lineage story, but one should never assume when researching family genealogy. Things are never as they seem and seldom logical.  It may indeed be this family’s story, or just a bunch of interesting co-incidences.  If you know the actual story of John Libbey, please contact me and I will be very happy to share.

*Cordwainer is a maker of new shoes from new leather, as opposed to a Cobbler who repairs shoes.

Libbey Documents