WEBB, John Richmond (1667-1724), of Biddesden, in Ludgershall, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 26 Dec. 1667,1 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Col. Edmund Richmond Webb, M.P., of Rodbourne Cheney, Wilts. by his 1st w. Jane, da. of John Smith of St. Mary Aldermanbury, London, and Tidworth, Wilts. m. (1) lic. 3 Feb. 1690, Henrietta (d. June 1711), da. and coh. of William Borlase, M.P. (yr. bro. of Sir John Borlase, 1st Bt., M.P.), wid. of Sir Richard Astley, 1st Bt., 3s. 4da; (2) 20 May 1720, Anne Skeates, wid., said to be illegit., 1s. 2da.
Cornet 3 Drags. 1685; capt. and lt.-col. Gren. Gds. 1689; col. 8 Ft. 1695-1715; brig.-gen. 1704; maj.-gen. 1706; lt.-gen. 1709; capt. and gov. I.o.W. 1710-15; cdr. forces in England 1712.
A distinguished soldier, who had served under Marlborough, Webb came of a Wiltshire family, with a strong interest at Ludgershall, where he was returned as a Tory to twelve successive Parliaments, including that of 1713, when he chose to sit for Newport in the Isle of Wight, of which he had been appointed governor by the Tory Government in 1710. After George I’s accession, attempts were made to secure his dismissal as a Tory from his military posts, but the King re-appointed him to them on condition that he made his peace with Marlborough,2 whom he wrongly believed to have tried to deprive him of the credit for his brilliant action at Wyendael in 1708. Re-elected after a contest with his brother in 1715, when he was classed as a Whig who would often vote with the Tories, he took his seat on 29 March after the House had decided that it had not been vacated by his reappointment as governor of the Isle of Wight by letters patent which had passed the great seal since his election (see under Stanwix, Thomas).3 On 11 June 1715 it was reported that he had been dismissed from his military posts for voting with the Tories in Parliament and that similar action was to be taken against other Tory officers in the House. He was one of the high-ranking officers who were dismissed the service or ordered to sell their regiments in July, when the Government was taking emergency measures against the impending rebellion.4 He was not involved in the rebellion but in April 1716 he was consulted by Atterbury on a plan for landing Swedish troops in England, on which he declared
that if he had 6,000 regular troops, he would undertake to beat all the forces which could on a sudden be brought together in England ... He desired timely notice when and where the descent will be made, that he might draw his money out of the funds and bring a good purse with him to the field.
In January 1717 the Pretender sent him a letter of thanks for his devotion to the cause; and in the spring of 1717 he was said to ‘wait but a call anywhere’.5 After his name had been sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a probable supporter in the event of a rising, he was sent a commission to act as one of the generals in the rebellion planned for the summer of 1722, when the Pretender wrote: ‘I extremely confide in his advice and assistance in matters of which he has so much experience’. In the course of the ensuing trials, his name was mentioned as one of the promoters of the plot.6
Webb’s only recorded speech after George I’s accession was made in November 1718, in support of a motion for translating the text of treaties from Latin into English. He
said he was not ashamed to own his ignorance; that he was never brought up in a university but in the army ever since he was 16 and had never looked in a grammar since, and that he did not understand one word that was read, and therefore insisted that they should be turned into English and not forced to vote for what they did not know.7
His only recorded vote was against the peerage bill in 1719. At the general election of 1722 he was again opposed by his brother, who petitioned, renewing his petition till Webb’s death 5 Sept. 1724.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. H. I. Richmond, Richmond Fam. Recs. ii. 235.
- 2. Wentworth Pprs. 422, 426, 430; Pol. State, viii. 331.
- 3. CJ, xviii. 29, 30.
- 4. Verney Letters of 18th Cent. i. 339; Pol. State, x. 98.
- 5. HMC Stuart, ii. 67-68; iii. 378, 475-6; iv. 333.
- 6. Stuart mss 59/17, 60/55, 65/16, Howell’s State Trials, xvi. 179.
- 7. HMC Stuart, vii. 568.