WEBB, Edmund (c.1639-1705), of Rodbourne Cheney and Fifield, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1639, 1st s. of Edmund Webb of Rodbourne Cheney by Grace, da. of Edward Chamberlaine of Maugersbury, Glos. educ. Magdalen Hall, Oxf. 1656; G. Inn 1659. m. (1) 30 Jan. 1662 Jane (d.1669), da. of John Smith of South Tidworth, Hants, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da.; (2) 5 Sept. 1673, Margary, da. of Sir James Harrington, 2nd Bt., of Swakeleys, Mdx., wid. of James Ashe of Fifield, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. fa. c.1645.1
Commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1661-80, 1689, capt. of militia ft. by 1679, col. 1680-June 1688, ?Oct. 1688-d., j.p. and dep. lt. 1683-June 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; freeman, Calne 1685-May 1688.2
Gent. usher to Prince George of Denmark 1683-d.3
Webb was descended from William Richmond who married Alice Webb, a Wiltshire heiress, about 1430. Webb’s father inherited Rodbourne Farm and the manor of Over Wroughton in 1635; a royalist major, he was killed in the Civil War, but the estate does not seem to have been sequestrated. The family had no parliamentary experience, and little is known of Webb until 1679, when he began his long run of election successes at the difficult and expensive borough of Cricklade, five miles from his home. Both his wives had come from families hostile to the Stuarts, and Shaftesbury marked ‘Captain Webb’ as honest. He was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges in the first Exclusion Parliament, but was absent from the division on the bill. He was re-elected in August, and probably succeeded Sir Edward Bayntun in command of a regiment of the Wiltshire militia. As ‘Colonel Webb’ he was appointed to a committee on a local estate bill in 1680. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament, but was now clearly a court supporter. On 22 Dec. 1681 he wounded and disarmed Gilbert Gerard II in a duel. ‘I hear their difference was about some of our parliament debates’, wrote (Sir) Thomas Clarges, ‘they having been both Members of the House of Commons, for and against the bill of exclusion.’ Further evidence of Webb’s martial disposition followed in 1684, when, together with Henry St. John, he was found guilty of murdering Sir William Estcourt in a brawl. But Judge Jeffreys, in passing sentence, passed comment on Webb’s signal loyalty ‘in turbulent and staggering times’, and he was pardoned as a member of the household of Prince George, ‘who could ask the boldlier as it being the first request he ever had made unto his Majesty’.4
Webb stood for Cricklade again in 1685 at the King’s express desire, and was involved in a double return with Charles Fox, another Tory, and Thomas Freke II, a Whig. He took his seat when Parliament met, and was appointed to the elections committee, but Fox petitioned against him, and was seated on the merits of the return. Webb regained his seat at Freke’s expense a fortnight later on the merits of the election, but he was named only to the committee on the bill for building the church of St. Anne, Soho. With Treasury assistance, he successfully prosecuted Freke and his accomplices for electoral malpractices. His answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws are not extant, but as a courtier he was presumably closeted, and he was certainly removed from local office. The King’s electoral agents expected him to stand for Cricklade, but were doubtful of his attitude, though they hoped that he might go right. He was duly returned to the Convention by an obliging bailiff, who said, ‘If Colonel Webb had but six votes, he would return Colonel Webb for one’. But he was unseated by Freke without taking any known part in the Convention. He regained his seat in 1690, and was reckoned a court supporter. He usually voted with the Tories, but signed the Association in 1696. He died on 13 Dec. 1705 and was buried at Rodbourne Cheney.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Leonard Naylor
- 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vii. 44.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 28; PC2/72/678; Eg. 1626, f. 51.
- 3. LS13/231/24.
- 4. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vii. 41; Wilts. Inquisitions (Index Lib. xxiii), 437; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 1019; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 21, f. 337; Luttrell, i. 320, 323, 325; N. and Q. clxii. 59; HMC Rutland, ii. 84.
- 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 577, 744; CJ, ix. 717, 719, 732; x. 72-73.