John Webster (governor)

John Webster (bef August 16, 1590 – April 5, 1661) was an early colonial settler of New England, serving one term as governor of the Colony of Connecticut in 1656.

John Webster
Governor of the
Colony of Connecticut
In office
Preceded byThomas Welles
Succeeded byJohn Winthrop Jr.
Deputy Governor of the Colony of Connecticut
In office
Preceded byThomas Welles
Succeeded byThomas Welles
Personal details
Bornbef. August 16, 1590
Cossington, Leicestershire, England
DiedApril 5, 1661 (aged 70)
Hadley, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Agnes Smith
(m. 1609; his death 1661)

Early life

Webster was born in Cossington, Leicestershire, England, the son of Matthew Webster (1548–1623) and his wife, Elizabeth Ashton.[1]


In the early 1630s, he traveled to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with his wife and five children, settling in the area of Newtowne (now Cambridge, Massachusetts). He left in 1636, in all probability with Thomas Hooker and his adherents, to settle Hartford, Connecticut. His first public office was as a member of a committee that joined with the Court of Magistrates in determining the course of war with the Pequot Indians. He was 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 1638-39 who participated in the drafting and adoption of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, a document that is widely acknowledged as establishing one of the earliest forms of constitutional government.[2]

Communion controversy

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 a council that agreed that this was not acceptable. Reverend Stone chose to ignore this 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 themselves 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 in 1661 he contracted a fever and died.

Personal life

On November 7, 1609, Webster married Agnes Smith (born August 29, 1585 in Cossington, Leicestershire, England) at Cossington. She died in Hadley, Massachusetts in 1667. They had nine children (all born in England):

  • Matthew Webster (b. 1608/09), who married Sarah Waterbury and Mary Reeve
  • Margaret Webster (b. 1609/10), who married William Bolton and Thomas Hunt
  • William Webster (1614–1688), who married Mary Reeve (1617–1698)
  • Thomas Webster (1616–1686), who married Abigail Sage Alexander (1647–1688)
  • Robert Webster (1619–1676), who married Susanna Treat (1629–1705)
  • Anne Webster (1621–1662), who married John Marsh (1618–1688)
  • Elizabeth Webster (1622/23–1688), who married William Markham (1621–1690)
  • Mary Webster (b. 1623), who married Jonathan Hunt (or died before April 15, 1623)
  • Faith Webster (1627–1627), who died 10 days after her birth

Notable descendants

  • William Robbins Barnes (1866-1945) - co-founder of Barnes and Noble
  • Earl W. Bascom (1906-1995) - rodeo pioneer, inventor, cowboy hall of fame inductee, Hollywood actor, western artist and sculptor, "father of modern rodeo"
  • Johnny Carson (1925-2005) American television celebrity
  • Samuel Colt (1814-1862) - inventor, founder of Colt firearms
  • James E. Faust (1920-2007) - Word War II air corp veteran, attorney, politician, religious leader, published author
  • Marion D. Hanks (1921-2011) - World War II navy chaplain, religious leader, seminary teacher, author, public speaker, poet, business executive
  • Franklin S. Harris (1884-1966) - Brigham Young University president, published author
  • Jared Ingersoll (1749-1822) - signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • Francis M. Lyman (1840-1916)) - politician, attorney, religious leader
  • Truman G. Madsen (1926-2009) - university professor, published author, world lecturer, film producer, editor
  • Reed Smoot (1862-1941) - religious leader, United States Senator
  • Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931)) - politician, journalist, poet, college professor, historian, religious leader
  • Noah Webster, Jr. (1722-1813) - American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author.



  1. ^ "The Ancestry of Governor John Webster," in The American Genealogist, vol. 24, no. 4 (October 1948), pp. 197ff.
  2. ^ "The Constitutional History of Connecticut" by Roger Welles in Connecticut Magazine, vol. 5, at p. 93 (1899).


  • Webster, William Holcomb and Melville Reuben; William Holcomb Webster; Melville Reuben Webster (1915). History and Genealogy of the Governor John Webster Family of Connecticut. E. R. Andrews Printing Company. pp. 1–19.
  • Barbour, Lucius Barnes (1982). Families of Early Hartford, CT. Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Holmes, Frank R. (1974). Directory of the Ancestral Heads of New England Families 1620–1700. Genealogical Publishing Company.
  • Meckler. Biographies of American and Colonial Governors.
  • Goodwin, Nethaniel (1856). Genealogical Notes First Settlers of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
  • Randolph Runyon (19 August 1999). Delia Webster and the Underground Railroad. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-2769-9.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Welles
Governor of the Colony of Connecticut
Succeeded by
John Winthrop Jr.
Cossington, Leicestershire

Cossington is a village within the Soar Valley in Leicestershire, England. It lies between Sileby, Rothley, Ratcliffe-on-the-Wreake and Syston. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 598.Although there is no railway service to Cossington, the Ivanhoe Line runs along the Midland Main Line between Leicester and Loughborough, passing close to the village. An hourly service is provided in both directions as part of East Midlands Trains Local service from Lincoln to Leicester via Nottingham. Many years ago there was a 'Cossington Gate railway station' which has long since gone, the only evidence remaining on old maps, The nearest stations now being at Syston and Sileby.

Cossington was once home to Lady Isobel Barnett, a radio and television personality from the mid 20th century, where she committed suicide amidst shoplifting charges. A short new road, Barnett Close, has been named in her memory.

The village is home to three small businesses; two garden centres (Derry's Nursery and Goscote Nursery) and a pub, The Royal Oak

In the early 1990s there were plans to expand the village, which were strongly opposed by the residents at the time, who formed the protest group 'Cossington In Distress'. The residents were successful in bringing about the cessation of the work and the village remains a peaceful community to this day.

Every alternate Easter the residents of Cossington open their gardens to the public for two days for the 'Secret Gardens of Cossington' in which the village's willing gardeners show off their talents, with all the proceeds of ticket sales going to charity. The event has been a massive success every time it has run.

The church of All Saints dates from the 13th century. A ‘Grant of Arms’ of the Fisher family displayed on the tower wall above the arch. There are memorial tablets to the Fisher family of which Geoffrey Fisher became Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1950s.To the south of the village lies Platts Lane Recreation Ground (more simply known as just 'Platts Lane') which is owned by the Platts Lane Charitable Trust and run by a volunteer committee made up of mostly village residents. Platts Lane is basically a large playing field area and plays host to soccer, cricket and rugby matches - most notably being the home of Sileby Town Rugby Football Club who are also known as 'The Vikings' and play all their home fixtures at Platts Lane, which many locals enjoy watching.

Nearby is Ratcliffe College.

A notable native of Cossington was John Webster, governor of Connecticut Colony in 1656.

The Australian artist Grace Cossington Smith's mother (also Grace, née Fisher) was the daughter of a rector of Cossington from the Fisher family (see above).

To the east of the village there is a footpath named "Polly Peggs Footpath". Local village legend says a distressed girl drowned herself after falling pregnant whilst courting. Her lover, father and even the church abandoned her and she committed suicide.

Hadley, Massachusetts

Hadley ( (listen), HAD-lee) is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 5,250 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The area around the Hampshire and Mountain Farms Malls along Route 9 is a major shopping destination for the surrounding communities.

John Winthrop the Younger

John Winthrop the Younger (February 12, 1606 – April 6, 1676) was an early governor of the Connecticut Colony, and he played a large role in the merger of several separate settlements into the unified colony.

List of governors of dependent territories in the 17th century

Territorial governors in the 16th century – Territorial governors in the 18th century – Colonial and territorial governors by yearThis is a list of territorial governors in the 17th century (1601–1700) AD, such as the administrators of colonies, protectorates, or other dependencies. Where applicable, native rulers are also listed.

A dependent territory is normally a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state yet remains politically outside of the controlling state's integral area. The administrators of uninhabited territories are excluded.

Richard Treat

Richard Treat (or Trott) (1584–1669) was an early settler in New England and a patentee of the Royal Charter of Connecticut, 1662.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.