John Webster (c. August 16, 1590 - April 5, 1741) was an early colonial settler of New England, serving one term as governor of the Colony of Connecticut in 1656. He was also one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut, in Thomas Hooker's company from Massachusetts. One of his descendants was Noah Webster, Jr., the famous lexicographer.
Life and Death
Webster was born in Cossington, Leicestershire, England, the son of Matthew Webster (1548-1623) and his wife, Elizabeth Ashton. Webster married Agnes Smith (b. Aug. 29, 1858) on November 7, 1609, at Cossington. Between 1608 and 1627, the couple had nine children.
He traveled to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with his wife and five children in the early 1630's, settling in the area of Newtowne (now Cambridge, Massachusetts). He left in 1636 with Thomas Hooker and his adherents to settle Hartford, Connecticut. He was an original proprietor of land in Hartford; his home lot in 1639 was on the east side of the street now called Governor Street. He was also one of the Committee who for the first time sat with the Court of Magistrates in 1637 and 1638. This position required him to determine the course of war with the Pequot Indians. He was also chosen from 1639 to 1655 to be magistrate, and in 1655, he was chosen as Deputy Governor of the Colony of Connecticut. In 1656, he was elected governor, and he served as first magistrate from 1657 to 1659.
In addition to his service as Governor of the Connecticut Colony, John Webster was one of the nineteen men representing the towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor in 1638 to 1639, who participated in the drafting and adoption of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, a document widely acknowledged as establishing one of the earliest forms of constitutional government.
A split amongst the church members in Hartford grew when the current minister at the First Church in Hartford, Samuel Stone, declared that the requirement that stated only parents that had both taken communion should be allowed to have a child baptized would be removed, and non-communicants would be allowed to vote. John Webster, among others, were a part of the council that agreed that this was not acceptable. Reverend Stone chose to ignore that sentiment, and the issue was taken up with the General Court in Massachusetts. The Court ruled that although Reverend Stone had been too strict in ignoring the majority of his parishioners, he was right in liberalizing the baptism ritual. It was also found that those who disagreed with Stone could remove to a location in Massachusetts to practice how they saw fit. This eventual location chosen was Hadley, Massachusetts, and in 1659, a new community was built there. Webster lived there for less than two years, for on April 5, 1661, he contracted a fever and died. His wife, Agnes Smith, died in Hadley in 1667.
- Matthew Webster (b. Feb. 11, 1608) - m. (1) Sarah Waterbury (2) Mary Reeve
- Margaret Webster (b. Feb. 21, 1609) - m. (1) William Bolton (2) Thomas Hunt
- William Webster (b. Dec. 26, 1614) - m. Mary Reeve
- Thomas Webster (b. Nov. 24, 1616) - m. Abigail Alexander
- Robert Webster (b. Nov. 17, 1619) - .m Susanna Treat
- Anne Webster (b. Jul. 29, 1621) - m. John Marsh
- Elizabeth Webster (b. Mar. 16, 1622) - m. William Markham
- Mary Webster (b. Mar. 30, 1623) - m. Jonathan Hunt
- Faith Webster (Apr. 8, 1627 - Apr. 18, 1627) - died as infant.