Richard Sawyer Webb

Continuing with my efforts to trace the history of Joseph Webb, who shared a house with my great grandfather George Webb, in the hope of discovering the nature of their relationship, I have been exploring the background of Joseph’s father, Richard.

In the last post I note that Joseph Webb was born on 5 March 1850 to carman Richard Webb and his wife Sarah Anne. Joseph was the second of three sons, of whom the eldest was Richard junior, born in 1848.

The closest match for the marriage of Richard and Sarah occurred on 8 February 1846 at the church of St George in the East, when carman Richard Sawyer Webb, a widower of 6 Samuel Street, married Sarah Anne Hill of 8 Samuel Street. Richard was the son of toymaker Joseph Webb and Sarah the daughter of carman Thomas Hill.

Victorian toyshop

The fact that Richard had been married before helps to explain the age disparity between Richard and Sarah: if later census records are to be believed, he was born in about 1810 and she in about 1822. I’ve yet to find a definite record of Richard’s first marriage, though there are a couple of likely candidates.

The only problem matching Richard Webb, carman, wife of Sarah and father of Joseph, with the Richard Sawyer Webb, carman, wife of Sarah and son of Joseph Webb, is a discrepancy in his date of birth. As we have seen, the only census record we currently have for Richard (I’m still searching for him in the 1841 census) is for 1851, which gives his age as 41, putting his birth date around 1810.

However, Richard Sawyer Webb was born to Joseph and Sarah Webb at Church Street, and baptised at St Leonard’s Shoreditch on 23 February 1806. Church Street or Church Lane ran from Shoreditch High Street in the west towards Bethnal Green, becoming Bethnal Green Road.

The most likely match for a marriage between Joseph and Sarah, because of its date, location and Sarah’s surname, is the marriage that took place in 1795 at St. Botolph’s Bishopsgate between Joseph Webb and Sarah Sawyer.

Street in the Old Nichol

It would appear that Richard was the youngest of Joseph and Sarah’s children, the others being Robert (born 1797), Henry (1799), Joseph (1801), Sarah (1802) and Thomas William (1804). All were baptised at St. Leonard’s Shoreditch. The Webbs lived at various addresses in Shoreditch and the western end of Bethnal Green. In 1797 they were living in Motley Street, in 1799 in Cock Lane,  in 1801 in Holywell Street, in 1802 and 1804 back in Cock Lane, and 1806 in Church Street.  These locations included some of the worst slums in the area: Cock Lane was the western boundary of the infamous Old Nichol, the subject of Sarah Wise’s recent bestselling book.

At least two of Joseph Webb’s sons – Henry and Joseph – followed in their father’s footsteps and became toy makers. I’m still investigating this particular branch of the Webb family, but I’ve yet to find any direct connection with my great grandfather George.

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