Coming to America
Websters in western NY
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The very earliest mention that can be found of any member of the Webster family is in 1273 in Norfolk, England. Here lived, during the reign of King Edward I (1272 - 1307), John le Webestere. He is recorded in a document called the "Hundred Rolls of Norfolk"
From 1377 to 1399, during the reign of Richard II (1389-1399), there lived in Yorkshire, England, Robertus and Willemus Webester. They were of Scottish descent and held the manor of Lockington.
No proof has been found that these early Websters were ancestors of the Websters of western New York, but there is a chance that some might well be, as they lived in the same area from which the Websters migrated to America.
John Webster (born about 1404) is the first person that is known to be the direct ancestor of the Webster family in America. John Webster was a feudal baron who lived in Bolsover, England. He is recorded as:
"in the 12th year of Henry VI (1434) was returned into Chancery among the gentlemen of that County who made oath, in behalf of themselves and their retainers, for the observance of the king's laws."
John Webster II (born about 1434 in Syston, Lincolnshire England) is his only known son.
John Webster II married about 1459, but his wife is unknown.
William (1460 - 1538) is his only known child.
William Webster, son of John Webster, became a freeman of Leicester in 1502/3. He was a butcher and this enabled him to sell his meat in Leicester without paying a heavy toll. It also laid upon him responsibilities, notably those of fair trading and of contributing a reasonable amount of the borough expenses. His eldest son, John, took up his freedom in 1509/10. He paid the Lay Subsidy in Syston in 1524 and his name appears on the Musters there in 1540.
William Webster's spouse is unknown.
John (1485 - before 1558) is William Webster's only known child.
John Webster, son of William Webster, became tenant, under the priory of Ulverscroft, County of Leicester, of a farm in Cossington in 1535, and in 1544 went to court over it. His opponents, Thomas and William Chamberlain (probably his friends - they later were witnesses to the will of Emett Webster, John's widow), joined him in a collusive suit to secure his title. In 1554 John bought the house and farm. His name appears twice in the churchwardens' accounts: in 1545 he paid rent for a piece of land and in 1549 he held the office of churchwarden.
John married Emett Welle (circa 1486 - 20 Mar 1557/8) and they had five children. After his death, sometime before 1558, Emett married John Smith and had one other son (John Smith).
Children of John and Emett (Welle) Webster;
John Webster II, second son of John Webster, appears in the Cossington churchwardens' accounts and is shown paying his mother's legacy, collecting a levy and doing business for the village at Stamford. Stamford is about thirty miles from Cossington and, with a laden wagon on the roads of that time, took three days. Also, Isabell, the "goodwyfe Webster," was responsible for the church's washing.
In 1572 John Webster was taxed 6s/8d for the lay subsidy; his brother William, at Thrussington, paid twice as much, which suggests that he had received an eldest son's portion from John I. William Webster became a freeman of Leicester, possibly for the second time, in 1576, and he was still living in 1585.
John married Isabell Kythin (born about 1513) and in 1535 they had a son, John III.
John II died 24 June 1575.
John Webster III was prosperous businessman; the accounts show that he ranked extra land and that the parish taxed him quite highly. He became an important man in the village and his name appears next after the squire and the parson in the articles of agreement made in 1585.
John III married Isabel Rynzza (born about 1539) about 1558. Isabel died in childbed within a year and he remarried to Alice Olven in 1560.
John III died 11 October 1594.
Children of John III and Alice (Olven) Webster;
Matthew Webster, son of John Webster III, married Elizabeth Ashton (born about 1566) in 1587. His father gave one third of his farm to the couple, with the remainder to come to them and their children after his death. Matthew and his father were probably partners before the marriage, for in 1586 they both paid 1s/4d for the tax called "the fifteene."
Matthew Webster died 13 September 1592. His will appears to have been made hurriedly and was witnessed by his father-in-law (John Ashton), the squire and the parson. John III, Matthew's father, died two years later.
Children of Mathew and Elizabeth (Ashton) Webster;
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