WEBSTER, Sir Godfrey, 5th Bt. (1789-1836), of Battle Abbey, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1812 - 1820

Family and Education

b. 6 Oct. 1789, 1st s. of Sir Godfrey Vassall* (afterwards Webster), 4th Bt., by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Richard Vassall of Jamaica, and Golden Square, Mdx. educ. Harrow 1798-1800; St. John’s, Camb. 1806. m. 22 Aug. 1814, Charlotte, da. of Robert Adamson of Westmeath, 5s. suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 3 June 1800.

Offices Held

Lt. 18 Drag. 1809, ret. 1812, lt.-col. commdt. Hastings regt. Suss. militia 1813.


Webster’s father divorced his mother (afterwards Lady Holland) when he was seven and committed suicide when he was ten. His mother, after a stolen visit just before the tragedy, found him ‘very affectionate. He seems clever but is not handsome. He is cold in his disposition, and taught by his father to be a boaster.’ At the age of 20 he preceded Lord Byron in the affections of Lady Caroline Lamb, who depicted him under the name of Buchanan in her novel Glenarvon, as arrogant, selfish, cold and preoccupied with horses and gambling. John Williams Ward described him, 5 Apr. 1810, as

one of the greatest blackguards in London. He is young, indeed, well-born and well-looking, but in every other respect a more complete contrast to [William Lamb*] cannot be imagined. I never remember to have heard of anybody more generally disliked, or more completely excluded from the pale of good company. He is quite confiscated to habits of low profligacy, and not deemed a sufficiently respectable associate even by the members of the Whig Club. At the Argyll Street rooms ... he acquainted us that for for the last fifteen mornings he had breakfasted punctually at 9 o’clock before going to bed.1

In 1812 Webster, who had aspired to it for a full year, replaced another unsuitable character, John Fuller, as county Member, being returned unopposed as representative for the eastern part of Sussex. Lord Sheffield wrote that he had not ‘a single well wisher or friend in Sussex’ and that he ‘most stupidly squandered between £2,000 and £3,000 on the precious mobbility of Brighton and Lewes’. He apparently comported himself well, so as to attain ‘a degree of character’, but Sheffield feared that ‘the episodes in his career will not be creditable to us’ (with particular reference to his pugilistic propensities). He was, nevertheless, an