Did Sir Alexander Webb II exist?

+2 votes

Sir Alexander Webb II is currently connected as a Questionable Magna Carta Gateway Ancestor and the father of two Puritan Great Migration immigrants: Richard Webb of Norwalk, CT and Henry Webb of Boston. Until today, when he was disconnected, he was also listed as the father of Christopher Webb of Braintree. The theory of his parentage of those three immigrants (and a few others) can be traced to a couple of late 19th Century-early 20th Century unsourced genealogies: Charles Selleck's 1896 self-published history of Norwalk, CT (pp 387-388, 398-399, 402-403 interpage), which is available online at this link, and a manuscript entitled "Webb Genealogy from 1350 to 1913" by James B. Webb, which is referred to as a source by some online Webb genealogists but which does not seem to be readily available.

The problem is that I can find absolutely zero evidence of the existence of Sir Alexander Webb. I found evidence of his putative father, but no reliable evidence of him, his marriage or, most importantly, his parentage of Richard Webb of Norwalk or Henry Webb of Boston. His parentage of Christopher Webb of Braintree has already been disproven. It seems possible that the link through him was created in order to show a relationship with William Shakespeare.

Can anyone find any reliable evidence that Sir Alexander Webb existed? And if so, that he was the father of either Richard Webb or Henry Webb?

WikiTree profile: Alexander Webb
in Genealogy Help by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (141k points)
edited by Chase Ashley
It appears, in any event, that the "Sir" is incorrect. The (unreliable) sources for him don't say that he was Sir, they say that one of his ancestors in the 15th century was Sir.

5 Answers

+2 votes
Find this on Geni, Sir Alexander Webb II born abt 1559,Stratford on Avon

Warwickshire England.Shows parents names also.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (839k points)

Thanks. I've seen the Geni profile. It uses the same bad sources that the WT profile for him uses, eg unsourced family genealogy pages. Nothing reliable.

We need something like a parish record, court record, deed, contract, tax record, or will or estate record. Heck, I'd settle for a reasonably contemporary pedigree. I note that the only Webb mentioned in the 1619 Visitations of Warwick is a William Webb from Oxfordshire. See https://archive.org/details/visitationcount01britgoog/page/n334

+2 votes
He existed
by Anonymous Hudnall G2G6 (8.9k points)
Based on what reliable sources?
He is written about in History Books. real ones. Not fiction. I read about him, in the past-as I was searching. Has quite a  history. I don't ha'e an interest in him, unless someone else can show me that he is an ancestor of my ancestors, Mary and Elizabeth, plus multiple other with the surname of Webb. I'd stay away from profiles on Geni for your research-except as a hint that must be properly researched. You'll want to find your sources-elsewhere. I use Geni extremely rarely-for hints-not facts. Most of the profiles I see on Geni are just fanciful fantasies of hopefull descendents-though some few are sourced correctly.

"Most of the profiles I see on Geni are just fanciful fantasies of hopefull descendents" - Including, I suspect, the one for Sir Alexander Webb Jr, Knt. I have so far been unable to find any history books that mention the Alexander Webb who was purportedly the father of immigrants Richard Webb and Henry Webb, apart from the book about the history of Norwalk, CT.

Chase, Search the history books at CSUB library. You know, the ones that students check out when they write their thesis papers. Not in the genealogy section. As I stated, I researched him in the past. Though, I do admit that I only had access to those books because of being a student at  CSUB. The courses and classes I took were for my History Major, there. Not anything to do with genealogy. Just plain, old history classes in my chase to get my Masters degree. I hoped to find a link to my own Webbs. The actual man did exist. As for his relations, I was just trying to fit him into my own genealogy research. At the time, I could not. Still can't. Not trying to start an argument. But, he really did exist
Chase,I hope that you understand that just because his surname is Webb, it doesn't mean that he is related to each Webb that was born in the whole wide world. He Not all of the Webbs in the world had a common ancestor.
Of course.

Re history books - Not trying to start an argument, but the evidence suggests he did not exist. He has zero presence on the web apart from genealogies and none of them cite any reliable sources. At this point, the burden is on those who think he existed to provide the evidence.
Not a big deal. We can agree to disagree. Seems like you disagree each time I tell you why I think a man with his name existed. You counter with telling me you got proof he did not. I counter with somewhere I read about him, then you counter with another reason why you think I am wrong. Not important enough to keep going. No big deal.
+1 vote
Getting closer to disproving his existence. Kate Emery Pogue's 2008 book "Shakespeare's Family" states that the will of Alexander Webbe (husband of Margaret Arden and supposed father of "Sir Alexander Webb II") makes bequests to his six children: Robert, Edward, Anne, Elizabeth, Mary and Sara. John Shakespeare, the Bard's father, was an overseer. No son Alexander Jr. appears to have been mentioned. If I can track down a copy or transcription of the will, that would be the final nail in Sir Alexander Webb II's coffin.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (141k points)
edited by Chase Ashley

Alexander Webbe (of Snitterfield, husband of Margaret) is described as a husbandman in the 1560s. Unlikely that his son got a knighthood


Helen - Thanks for the link. The other Shakespeare original record source I found that I like a lot is: https://shakespearedocumented.folger.edu/exhibition

Actually, looks like a lot of the docs in shakespearedocumented come from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - ie collections.shakespeare.org.uk
You can take known people and find that even wills can be incorrect because of the material presented to them.  Noone can find the correct spelling of my greatgrandfathers name because he didn't use it.  And even his middle name has different spellings.  I go by what his grandson my dad said.  And they had biblical names so it would make sense he was Corinthias rather than Corinthian but because we can't find a legal paper using that name we may never know.  Robert could be Robert Alexander so it might be good to find an article with that mentioned or something similar. That would be proof.  Or if you look at ancestors with name combinations. With the Webbs they reoccur over and over and over and over.  My ancestors are Henrys too.  Lots of them.  And James Henry appears often.
+2 votes

According to the whole internet, "Sir Henry Alexander Webb" was gentleman usher to Queen Catherine Parr.

But according to this PDF on the Oxford Authorship site, the usher was a Henry Webb of Middlesex and left a sole daughter and heiress, Susan

http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/BritishLibrary/BL_Add_Charter_16194.pdf (p. 5)

Implying of course that the usher wasn't the father of Alexander sr.

by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (494k points)
edited by RJ Horace
Yes. I think there has been a lot of creative genealogy both in linking US immigrants to relatives of Shakespeare and also in trying to link relatives of Shakespeare to earlier prominent families. From what I can tell, there is no good evidence connecting Shakespeare to any "Sir" anythings.
RJ - To the substance of your post, so it appears that Sir Henry Alexander Webb was Henry Webb (no Alexander and maybe no Sir) and he was not the father of Alexander Webb of Bearley/Snitterfield?
Well presumably Alexander Webb of Snitterfield had a father who was called something, which might have been Henry for all I know.  But if looking for sources for him, it looks like we can eliminate any that relate to the gentleman usher, because that was a different Henry Webb.

As a humorous aside, one of the genealogy books that is cited in support of the existence and lineage of Alexander Webb II is the "Winthrop-Babcock Genealogy" (see https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/27001/dvm_GenMono007279-00539-0/537 ), which was singled out by Donald Lines Jacobus in his "Genealogy as Pastime and Profession" as the type of genealogy book that should not be trusted and as containing blatantly false pedigrees (see https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89062938204;view=1up;seq=87 ).

I agree with the name other than the given name.  My own family doesn't go by their first names.  James Frederick goes by Fred, James Michael goes by Mike and and noone would know my dad by his first name because he rarely used it.  I realized that when searching for Henry Webb.  Maybe that is just the name they used,  since there are several Henrys. Maybe that is why I can't find connections.

I created a full profile for Henry Webbe, gentleman usher 

It now seems pretty clear that the whole widely-disseminated Webb genealogy from Sir Alexander Webb II on up is fraudulent. Sir Alexander Webb II did not exist, Sir Alexander Webb I did exist but was no Sir and there is no evidence he was related to the US immigrant Webbs. Sir Henry Alexander Webb, gentleman usher, is based off of a very real Henry Webbe, gentleman usher, but he was not a Sir, did not have the middle name Alexander, did not marry a woman named Grace Arden, and did not have a son named Alexander. There is no evidence that a Henry Webbe as described in the Webb genealogies, existed.

+1 vote
According to info provided to me by Wikitree, Alexander Webb Sr is the son of Grace Arden Webb, and then Alexander Webb II is his son of course. His son is then William Micajah Webb etc. .  Grace Arden is the son of Thomas Arden. Regarding the Sir, I think anyone can be appointed that title.  I think Paul McCartney is Sir Paul McCartney.
by Linda Kurth G2G Crew (910 points)
Unfortunately, there is a lot of information on Wikitree that is incorrect information that has been copied from other sources. The key is the quality of the sources. There are lots of family fables and made up genealogies in unsourced family genealogy books, which then get repeated and embellished in online family webpages/trees. Based on reliable evidence, Sir Alex and William Micajah appear to fall in that category.
We're a bit more egalitarian today  and anyone researching Sir Paul in 300 years time will find plenty of records to show what he did.Even today, the path to knighthood is somewhat easier for those from the right background. If the son of a husbandman achieved a knighthood, he would be known for having done something and there would be records. (Sir Thomas Cromwell is an example of relative rags to riches).
That is sad.  I do know that the same thing has happened with family search.org etc. And then people put stuff on with no connections to anyone and no dna matches. The tree is only as good as the info put on it.

Related questions

+4 votes
3 answers
145 views asked Aug 25, 2018 in The Tree House by Stu Ward G2G6 Mach 3 (33k points)
+1 vote
3 answers
110 views asked Apr 11 in Genealogy Help by Neil Brown G2G1 (1.8k points)
+2 votes
1 answer
+4 votes
0 answers
+4 votes
2 answers
+7 votes
2 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright