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Robert Webber (abt. 1692 - abt. 1730)

Robert Webber
Born about in Oxford, Oxfordshire, Englandmap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
Son of [uncertain] and [mother unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died about in Westminster, Middlesex, Englandmap [uncertain]
Profile last modified | Created 19 Dec 2018
This page has been accessed 232 times.

Contents

Biography

Robert Webber, probably born between 1690 and 1693, possibly at Oxford, was supposed to be the illegitimate son of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, and an unknown woman whose last name was Weber. An anonymous 19th century account says she was an unmarried German lady at the court of King Charles II, who had died in 1685.

Details of his education and career are lacking, though if he was the son of the very wealthy Duke he had little need of either. Immediately after the death of the 1st Duke, the 3rd Earl of Cardigan, who was the Duke's brother-in-law, wrote on 30 May 1723 to Charles Lennox, now 2nd Duke of Richmond: “I am really sorry that you are determined to bury my Lord Duke at Westminster, and so is your Uncle Brudenell, but we must submit it to your better judgement. Bob Webber has this moment got the tickets, and will carry them to-morrow morning according to directions, but begs your Grace to lend him your Chariot...” Robert is clearly involved in the urgent arrangements for his father's funeral.[1]

On 7 Oct 1725, from in or near London, he wrote a letter to the 2nd Duke who was in France visting their grandmother Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth on her estate at Aubigny-sur-Nère. After thanking him for presents of 20 guineas, worth about 3,000 pounds currently, and a doe, venison being a traditional gift from nobility, he gives news of his unnamed wife who has been ill and their 3-year-old son Charles Webber: “your little Godson Charles presents his duty to you, and askes your blessing, he is a brave boy of his father.” Then he reports on some genealogical research he has commissioned from a herald at the College of Arms on the previous Dukes of Richmond and about tracing a portrait of the last Duke of that line, Charles Stewart. He closes by asking the Duke to remember him to their grandmother and, if he is coming back through Holland, to bring him back some gin.[2]

On 27 Aug 1726 Cardigan wrote to the 2nd Duke: “I was extreamly glad to hear by Webber that yr Grace and my Lady Duchess were safe return'd from Holland...” So Robert and Cardigan were in close touch, and Robert might well have got the gin he was hoping for.[3]

After making his will on 18 Oct 1729, he died about 8 Mar 1730 in Westminster and his probate at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury was on 23 May 1730.[4]

His wife's name was Mary but her identity is uncertain: a Robert Webber married Mary Andrews in St Paul's Cathedral, London, by licence dated 19 Dec 1712, and a Robert Webber married Mary Maybank on 17 May 1716 at St Benet Paul's Wharf, London. They had three children:

Research Note

In my possession are four original documents compiled by four different researchers on the origin of the Webbers, which I'm willing to scan and share:

  • An anonymous unsourced 19th century manuscript descent from Robert Webber, which explicitly gives his father as Charles Lennox and says he was brought up by the Duke, its last entry being about 1875.
  • An anonymous unsourced early 20th century manuscript descent from Robert Webber, which explicitly gives his father as Charles Lennox and his grandfather as King Charles II, its last entry being about 1904.
  • An anonymous unsourced early 20th century manuscript descent from Robert Webber which does not mention his paternity, its last entry being about 1906.
  • 20th century typed notes with abbreviated references on descent from Robert Webber by Walter Divie Peckham (1883-1979), Honorary Archivist of Chichester Cathedral, which record the claim that Robert's father was Charles Lennox.

An extract from the last document reads:

The tradition in my family, related to the later generations through William's wife Ann …. is that these, or some of them, descend from a bye-blow of a Duke of Richmond, perhaps from Robert Webber “a minor Canon of Winchester Cathedral and a frequent visitor to Goodwood” who writes to the second Duke (on) 7 Oct 1725 and speaks of “your little godson Charles”.

The people in this extract are:

  • “William's wife Ann” refers to Robert Webber's third son Reverend William Webber (1724-1790) and his wife Anne Smith (1731-1806). She was the sister of WDP's great-great-grandfather Reverend Charles Smith (1729-1803).
  • “Robert Webber” is the subject of this profile, but the 8th Duke in his book seems to have confused him with his first son Reverend Robert Webber by calling him “a minor Canon of Winchester Cathedral”. At the date of the letter, the son Robert was aged about 10 and could not possibly have written on such terms to the Duke.
  • “Charles” is Robert Webber's second son, the future Rear-Admiral Charles Webber (1722-1783), whose wife Anne Vining Heron had an affair with and later married William Smith, brother of Anne Smith and Charles Smith.

Both Annes, Charles Smith's sister and sister-in-law, were clearly in a position to know something about the origins of their father-in-law and to pass it on.

The document by WDP goes on to record many continuing links between the Dukes and the Webbers, which do not prove a blood connection but attest to a longstanding affinity between the two families.

Sources

  1. Gordon-Lennox, Charles Henry, 8th Duke of Richmond, “A duke and his friends : the life and letters of the second duke of Richmond” (1911), page 71 https://archive.org/details/dukehisfriendsli01richuoft/page/71
  2. Gordon-Lennox, Charles Henry, 8th Duke of Richmond, “A duke and his friends : the life and letters of the second duke of Richmond” (1911), page 134 https://archive.org/details/dukehisfriendsli01richuoft/page/134
  3. Gordon-Lennox, Charles Henry, 8th Duke of Richmond, “A duke and his friends : the life and letters of the second duke of Richmond” (1911), page 143 https://archive.org/details/dukehisfriendsli01richuoft/page/143
  4. PROB 11/637/362 Will of Robert Webber, Gentleman of Saint John the Evangelist in the City of Westminster, Middlesex, proved 23 May 1730 https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D593389

See also

  • Rosemary Baird, "Goodwood: Art and Architecture, Sport and Family" (2007), page 18


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Comments: 1

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Chas what is the source for Robert Webber being the illegitimate son of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond?

'The duke and his friends' vol.1, p. 134-136 makes no mention of any relationship. https://archive.org/details/dukehisfriendsli01richuoft/page/134

posted by John Atkinson

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