History and Genealogy of the
Gov. John Webster Family of Connecticut
By William Holcomb Webster &
Rochester, New York
The Hadley History. - The agreement to remove to Hadley is dated at Hartford, April 18, 1659, and signed by fifty -nine persons belonging to Hartford and Wethersfield, including one or two from Windsor. In the Hadley records John Webster's name appears first on the list of settlers from Hartford. On a map showing the list and arrangement of the original lots in Hadley, and the names of their owners, we note the following which are also in the list of First Church. Hartford, of those who removed to Hadley: Francis Barnard, Richard Church, Andrew Warner, John Marsh, John Webster, William Goodwin, John Crow, Samuel Moody, Nathaniel Ward. William Markham, William Partrigg, John Barnard, Andrew Bacon, Timothy Stanley, Nathaniel Stanley (returned to Hartford), John White, William Lewis, Richard Goodman,. William Westwood. Of those who went to Hadley, the names of Samuel Church, Zachariah Field and Daniel Warner do not appear on the map; also William Hill. The following signed the agreement to go but either did not, or soon returned: George Wilerton, John Arnold, Ozias Goodwin, James Ensign. Robert Webster, George Steele, William Lewis, Jr., Benjamin Harbert, John Catling. The following upon the map came from other places than Hartford:
Samuel Gardner, Chileab Smith, Joseph Baldwin, Robert Boltwood, John Hawks, Edward Church, Henry Clark, Stephen Terry, Joseph Kellogg, Thomas Coleman, Samuel Smith, Philip Smith, Richard Montague, John Dickinson, Samuel Porter, Thomas Wells, John Hubbard, John Russell, Jr., Peter Tilton, T. Dickinson, N. Dickinson, J. Russell, Sr., J. Kellogg.
The tract of land which they purchased was upon the Connecticut River, on the east, covering what is now included in the present towns of Hadley, Amherst, South Hadley and Granby, and on the west side, Hatfield and a part of Williamsburg. Soon after signing the agreement to remove to Hadley, dated April 18, 1659, the signers, Or some part of them entered upon the work of preparing for settlement there. John Webster accompanied or preceded them that he might assist or superintend the laying out of the roads and other business, and made his temporary home in Northampton where he was taken sick and made his Will, dated June 25, 1659. It was witnessed by John Russell, Jr., the minister at Hadley, and Eleazer Mather, the minister at Northampton. Mr. Webster recovered however and lived nearly two years, dying in Hadley, April 5, 1661, and was buried there according to the instructions in his Will. Honor and labor followed him to his new field for he was soon made a judge, or commissioner as it was then called, John Pynchon and Samuel Chapin being his associates. The Court was held alternately at Northampton and Springfield. Sep. 25, 1660, a court was held in Springfield, and there were present for holding it, Mr. John Webster, Cap't John Pynchon, Mr. Samuel Holyoke, and Elizur Holyoke, Recorder. The jurors were Thomas Cooper, Henry Burt, Thomas Merick, William Warrener, William Branch, Mr. Jeans, Mr. Williams, John Dembleton, Robert Bartlett, Lawrence Bliss, Alexander Edwards and Benjamin Parsons.
In Massachusetts Records, Vol. IV, Part I, is the following: "At a General Court of Election held at Boston, May 30, 1660, it was declared: Mr. John Webster, Senior, of the new towne of Norwottock, is by this court commissioned with magistratticall power for the year ensuing, to act in all civil and criminall cases, as any other magistrate may doe, and that he joyne with the Commissioners in keeping the court at Springfield."
March 26, 1661, at the New Towne at Norwotuck, the following were made freemen and took the oath before Mr. Pynchon and Mr. Holyoke, who was recorder: -Mr. John Webster, Mr. John RusselI, Nathanooll Ward, William Markham, Thomas Dickerson, Andrew Bacon, Thomas Wells, John Hubard, Nathaneell Dickenson Philip Smith, Thomas Coleman, Robert Boltwood, Samuel Gardner, Peter Tilton.
The Death of Governor Webster. - The end was now near at hand. In eleven days, namely, April 5, 1661, under circumstances without record now extant, the Puritan and Pilgrim of two hemispheres, the faithful judge, Deputy Governor and Governor of an incipient American State, the public spirited citizen and public servant, in old age an exile for conscience sake from the infant city which he helped to found, in a new home, but surrounded by neighbors who had suffered with him, he closed his labors, and sleeps with the pioneers who with him blazed the path of empire in the World. His most eminent descendant; Noah Webster, LL.D., one of the chief lexicographers of the English language, erected in the Old Hadley Cemetery, in 1818, a modest slab upon or near the spot where Gov. Webster was buried, bearing the following inscription:
To the memory of John Webster, Esq. one of the first settlers of Hartford in Connecticut, who was many years a Magistrate or Assistant, and afterwards Deputy Gov. and Governor of that Colony, and in 16ô9 with three sons, Robert, William and Thomas, associated with others in the purchase and settlement of Hadley where he died in 1661, this monument is erected in 1818 by his descendant, Noah Webster of Amherst. * * * * * *
Gov. Webster's Will. - In the Northampton, Mass., Probate Records, pages 20 and 21 is recorded the following instrument, attested as a true copy of the last Will and Testament of Mr. John Webster, late of Hadley, deceased.
"I John Webster late of Hartford in the jurisdiction of Connecticut being weak of body yett sound of mind and having my perfect understanding doe ordayne this to be my last will and testament in manner followingó "Imprimis. I comitt my soule into the hands of the Almighty and most mercifull hoping to be saved by the alone meritts of the Lord Jesus Christ being washed with his blood and clothed with his righteousness and sanctifyed by the Holy Ghost. Amen.
"My body also I bequeath to ye earth to be interred with comely bureall (if at this time I be taken out of this world) in some part of the New Plantation on ye east side of the river agt Northampton. Moreover my worldly goods wch the Lord hath blessed me with and left me as a father's portion, I bestow as followeth.
"To my Deare and beloved wife Agnes Webster I give one bed and comely furniture for ye same. As also my house and lands in Hartford all the profitts of the same during her natural life. And upon her decease all shall come into the hands and be at ye disposal of my executor.
"Item, to my son Matthew Webster I give the summ of ten pounds.
"Item, to my son William Webster I give the summ of seventy pounds.
"Item, to my son Thomas Webster I give ye summ of fifty pounds. "Item, to my daughter Marsh I give ye summ of twenty pounds. "Item, to my daughter Markham I give ye summ of forty pounds. "To my grandchild Jonathan Hunt I give the summ of forty shillings.
"To my grandchild Mary Hunt I give ye summ of ten pounds.
"To all my grandchildren else in N. England I give ten shillings apiece.
"To Mary the wife of William Holton of Northampton in part of recompence for her great love and paynes for me I give forty shillings.
"To my son Robert Webster I give all the remainder of my estate of one kind and another, whom also I doe appoynt and ordayn to be my sole and full executor of this my last will and testament.
"My will further is that the foresaid legacys should be paid within fifteen months after my decease soe farr as my personall estate (that is all my estate besides houses and lands) will reach and the rest within eighteen months after my wives decease.
"Which of the legacys shall be paid first or how much of them I leave to the discretion and faithfulness of my son Robert desiring yt if there appeare any difference he would in it take, and act by the advise of my loving friends Nathaneell Ward and Andrew Bacon who have beene acquainted with much of my mind herein. Only my just debts I would have first paid before ye legacys as also my funerall expences.
"My lot at the New Plantation with ye accomodations thereunto belonging and I give to my sons William and Thomas upon condition of their inhabiting there as I myself was ingaged to doe wch is also my desire they should -
"And soe doeing to have it equally divides between them.
"In witness hereof I have sett to my hand this present 25 of June 1659.
In ye presence of
Gov. John Webster's widow, Mrs. Agnes Webster died six years later, probably in Hartford, in the year 1667.
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