WEBB, John Richmond (1721-66), of Biddesden, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1761 - 15 Jan. 1766

Family and Education

b. 1721, 1st s. of Gen. John Richmond Webb, M.P., by his 2nd w. Anne Skeates, a widow.1educ. at sch. in Chelsea; L. Inn 1739, called 1745, patent of precedence 1761, bencher 1762. unm. 1 da.  suc. half-bro. Borlase Richmond Webb 1738.

Offices Held

Judge of the Brecon circuit Dec. 1764- d.


Webb was returned for Bossiney with Bute’s approval but not on Bute’s interest. In fact, Bute had meant to recommend Webb to George Selwyn for Ludgershall—Lord Fitzmaurice wrote to Bute on 2 Mar. 1761:2

Mr. Webb is by an odd accident the only exceptionable person at Ludgershall, however not sufficiently so for your Lordship not to name him if it was not equally convenient to you to name another person. However I hear it reported that he’ll certainly succeed at Bossiney.

The ‘odd accident’ was undoubtedly the fact that his grandfather, father, and half-brother had sat for the borough, and that Webb, if let in, might have tried to revive his family interest there.

The link between Webb and Bute in this pre-election period was Sir Henry Erskine, one of Bute’s most active political agents, and a brother-in-law of Alexander Wedderburn, who was a close friend of Webb and a trustee for his illegitimate daughter. Erskine wrote to Bute about Webb in an undated letter belonging to that period:

If your Lordship should determine on carrying on a contest in Cornwall, Webb is the properest person that you can employ. Besides his talents for electioneering, he has [a] number of acquaintance there. He goes that circuit.

When exactly the idea of Webb’s candidature at Bossiney first arose is uncertain. Thomas Pitt had been trying to re-establish an electoral interest at Bossiney, where that of Lord Edgcumbe had been seriously shaken, but gave up when he found that he had incurred Bute’s displeasure. Webb wrote to Erskine, 28 Feb.:

In my road from Cornwall I called on Mr. Samuel Harris, Mr. Pitt’s agent. He tells me that Mr. Pitt has not fixed on any person to name, and that if Mr. Pitt can be prevailed on to nominate me, the thing is clear both for Mr. Wortley and myself. Samuel Harris is my old and particular friend and would do me all the service he can.

Webb was thus returned for the seat to which as a rule the Edgcumbe family nominated, without any reference to them. From three letters which Webb wrote to Charles Jenkinson in August 17633 it would seem that Edgcumbe’s friends were trying to re-establish his interest, and Webb refers to them as ‘the opposite party’—it is not clear whether Bute thought of capturing both seats contrary to the agreement of 1752, or whether Webb was trying to build up in the borough an interest of his own, under Bute’s wing and at Edgcumbe’s expense.

In Bute’s parliamentary list Webb was classed as his supporter, which he was also of the Grenville Administration. As one of the lawyers on the Government side, he was present at a meeting on 10 Jan. 1764 of men of business to discuss the Wilkes affair; and he spoke in the debate of 17-18 Feb.4 He was appointed a Welsh judge in December 1764—Grenville, talking to James Harris, 24 May 1765, quoted the appointment as an example of the favour he had always shown to Bute’s friends.5

Webb died 15 Jan. 1766.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Herald. (ser. 5), vii. 45; DNB.
  • 2. Bute mss.
  • 3. Jenkinson Pprs. ed. Jucker, 174-5, 177-8; Add. 38201, ff. 84-85.
  • 4. R. E. M. Peach, Life and Times of Ralph Allen, 201; Harris’s ‘Debates’.
  • 5. Harris’s memorandum, Malmesbury mss.