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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 extract from the last document reads:
The people in this extract are:
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.
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