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The Early Webb Families
  Although earlier Webb information is available, we will start the Webb story in the late 1400s in villages near Stratford, Warwickshire, England. If Stratford sounds familiar, it's because of William Shakespeare. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon and that's the same town. In fact, there are some very interesting family connections between the Webbs and the Shakespeares. The picture below is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. His grandmother was named Abigail Webb, and she is an ancestor of the American Webbs.

Sir John Alexander Webb
  Sir John Alexander Webb, born January 11, 1484, and served in the armies of both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Later in life, he was an usher in the Privy court of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's last wife and the only one who survived the dark hand of Henry. It appears that while he was born in Warwickshire (the county of Warwick), he did live for some time at Hampton Court, one of the palaces of Henry VIII. Sir John's first son, Henry--wonder where that name came from!--was born at Hampton 'Courts'. Actual construction of the Hampton Court palace did not begin until 1514, so it is unclear if the birthplace of Henry was a general location or if the birthplace is inaccurate. The title 'Sir' is the result of serving in the military as a knight and indicates the family was part of the nobility. Nobles were usually granted land in return for their military service and had the right to keep and bear arms. Nobility was hereditary and passed through male offspring, often first-born males.

The Family of Sir John Alexander
  Sir John had four children: Henry, Abigail, Mary, and William. Not much is known about William, but the other three children are very significant. Henry is a direct ancestor to the American Webbs. Abigail and Mary have some very complicated marriages and relationships, all due to the decree from Henry VIII that first cousins could marry. Abigail marries into the Shakespeare family and an eventual product of that marriage is William Shakespeare. Mary married into the prominent Arden family. The Arden's were wealthy landowners in Warwickshire. The interconnections between the Webb, Arden and Shakespeare families are too complicated for words, so the diagram below explains it all...

The Villages of Warwickshire
  There are a few villages near Stratford in Warwickshire that are important to the Webb family. All are just a few miles from one another and they are all just north and northwest of Stratford. The village of Bearley eventually became the home of the Webbs, Wilmcote and Aston Cantlow were home to the Ardens, and Stratford was home to the Shakespeares. In 15th and 16th century England, these villages would have been church parishes, since the church was the anchor of each community.

Sir Henry Alexander Webb
  Undoubtedly named after Henry VIII--due to the close family association with the royal family--Henry Alexander Webb was born on May 11, 1510. As noted in the diagram above, Henry married Grace Arden, daughter of Thomas Arden, of Aston Cantlow parish of Warwick county. The continued close association of the Webb family and royalty are documented in a letter sent by the Queen, Catherine Parr, requesting that grants and privileges due Henry Alexander Webb be fulfilled as promised. Sir Henry and wife Grace had three children: First-born Alexander, Agnes and Robert. Little is known of Agnes and Robert. Sir Henry Alexander permanently secured nobility for the family when, on June 17, 1577, he was granted a coat of arms.

Webb Coat of Arms
In medevial England, a coat of arms was worn by knights as a method of identification. Since knights were covered with armor, including face shields, visual recognition was impossible. When an unknown knight arrived at a tournament or battle, a herald would trumpet the arrival and would then describe the coat of arms to the other knights so they could identify fellow warriors during battle. Here is one description of the Webb Coat of Arms: The cross in the arms shows that the ancestor was with King Richard Cour de Leon in the 3rd Crusade or Holy War. The falcons are the birds of Palestine and denote swiftness and courage, and they show that the ancestor was at one time employed in Palestine. The ducal crown in the crest was given to those who had been in the service of one of the sovereign dukes of The French Confederation, and the eagle shows that the ancestor had won a battle at sea while in command of the vessel in which it was fought. The motto translates 'Principals not Men'.

Sir Alexander Webb
  Alexander Webb was born in Bearley on December 24, 1534 and in 1555 married Margaret Arden, a daughter of the wealthy Stratford landowner Thomas Arden. Margaret was the sister of Mary Arden, eventual mother of William Shakespeare. Her mother, Mary Webb Arden, is also the aunt of Alexander Webb. Sir Alexander and Margaret had three children, Robert, Agnes, and first-born Alexander. Alexander is of particular interest, since it was members of his family that left Warwickshire for America.




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(c) Jerry Gottsacker, 2008