WEBB, Thomas (c.1663-1734), of Gloucester, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. c.1663, s. of John Webb of Gloucester by Jane, da. of Giles Greville of Gloucester. m. Anne (d. 1734), 2s.1
Freeman, Gloucester 1685, sheriff 1690–1, alderman 1695, mayor 1701–2; receiver-gen. of land tax, Glos. 1702–6.2
The son of a merchant and alderman who had been mayor of Gloucester in 1682, Webb was a prosperous mercer. He advanced steadily through the ranks of the corporation, establishing a name for himself in the city as a staunch Tory. Towards the end of 1702, John Grobham Howe* was able to obtain for him the receivership of taxes in Gloucester and the county, Webb having petitioned for it in September. He served in this capacity until he was ‘discharged’ in August 1706 following the Tories’ electoral failures in Gloucestershire the previous year. He later recalled that he ‘was turned out by a party for no other reason (which the agents very well knew) than by being of the wrong party’. In the 1708 election he stood successfully for Gloucester, and was duly classed as a Tory in a list of the returns, and by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) as a ‘loss’ for the Whigs. He proved, however, an entirely inactive Member in the House, obtaining five weeks’ leave of absence on 21 Dec., and a further month’s leave on 10 Mar. 1710, having voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.3
Upon the appointment of the Tory ministry in August 1710, Webb wrote to Robert Harley* on the 26th congratulating ‘you and the public upon those happy changes. I can’t think it was high time, and hope it’s not too late to retrieve our English constitution and to make our glorious Queen happy and her subjects easy.’ The main point of his communication, however, appears to have been to tout for reappointment to his former post of receiver-general. He expounded at length upon the abuse by many receivers of their positions in withholding receipts from the government’s coffers and making loans, often to the very MPs who had nominated them, in remedy of which he suggested a system whereby receipts could be accounted on a quarterly basis. As if to emphasize his own suitability for a receiver’s post, he concluded by relating the part he himself had played in putting the Worcestershire receiver’s chaotic finances into shape. No appointment followed, however. Webb’s undistinguished record in the House did not prevent him topping the poll at Gloucester in October, his own influence much enhanced by the support of the dean of the city and the Duke of Beaufort whom he entertained at his house during the campaign. One observer, in remarking on Webb’s indispensability to the Tory interest in the city, was later to note that he ‘hath several times stemmed the tide in this place which nobody but himself would have done’. He was included as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament, and in 1711 featured as a ‘worthy patriot’ who helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration, and as one of the ‘Tory patriots’ who voted for the peace. He was also listed as a member of the October Club. His general inactivity is again underlined by further grants of leave, on 19 Mar. 1711 for one month, and on 12 Mar. 1712 for a similar period, absences which may well have been necessitated by corporation affairs at Gloucester in connexion with the annual mayoral changeover. In October 1712, just at the time when he was adopted as a candidate in the forthcoming general election, an Exchequer writ of capias was issued against him for £27,000 which he was alleged still to hold of land tax receipts, although the allegation appears to have been no more than a Whig hoax designed to upstage the Tories’ electoral arrangements; indeed, the general understanding was that ‘no receiver in England hath made better payments than Alderman Webb’. A few weeks before the election, however, the ministry prevailed on Webb with ‘fair promises’ to stand down in order, it would appear, to allow the candidacy of a wealthier local Tory. In December, and again in May 1714, he made polite attempts to jog Lord Oxford’s memory in relation to current vacancies in the excise commission, and on the latter occasion reminded the Duke of Beaufort more explicitly of the promise of ‘a good post’ that he had been made, but all to no avail. The Queen’s death a few months later and the change of ministry prevented the promise ever being fulfilled, although he was not removed immediately from the Gloucestershire commission of the peace. He died on 26 Mar. 1734, aged 71, and was buried at St. Michael’s, Gloucester.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. W. R. Williams, Parlty. Hist. Glos. 206; T. D. Fosbrooke, Gloucester, 179.
- 2. Gloucester Freemen (Glos. Rec. Ser. iv), 39; VCH Glos. iv. 379; Rudder, Glos. 117; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 361, 368; xxiii. 125.
- 3. Guise Mems. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xxviii), 147; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiii. 125; Add. 70315, Webb to Harley, 26 Aug. 1710.
- 4. Add. 70315, Webb to Harley, 26 Aug. 1710; 70294, Charles Coxe* to Ld. Oxford, 8 Oct. 1712; 70319, same to [–], 13 Oct. 1712; 70208, Webb to Oxford, 14 Dec. 1713, 13 May 1714; 70257, Duke of Beaufort to Oxford, 9 May 1714; Strathmore mss at Glamis Castle, box 74/bdle. 8, newsletter 12 Oct. 1710; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, letterbk. Beaufort to Coxe, 8 Aug. 1713; Bodl. Ballard 31, ff. 118–19; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 239; Fosbrooke, 179.