John Webster



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John Webster (1718-1800)

John Webster was born on 22 Apr 1718 in Plainfield, Essex, New Jersey, as the first child of William Webster and Susannah Cowperthwait. He had ten siblings, namely: Mary, William, Grace, Rachael, Hugh, Susannah, Martha, Mary, Sarah, and Elizabeth.

His birth place is now in Union County, New Jersey. At the time of his birth it was in Essex County.

Plainfield, New Jersey

John’s parents were members of the Society of Friends, involved in the Plainfield Monthly Meeting. His grandfather William Webster had settled east of Plainfield about 1685. His father, William Webster, had a large farm with Cedar Brook running through it.

When John’s birth was recorded the date was recorded as 22nd of the 2nd month 1718. The Quakers didn’t use the pagan names of the months and back then, March was the first month of the year, so 22-2-1718 was April 22, 1718.

Birth record, John Webster.

When he was 24, John Webster married Anna Taylor, daughter of John Taylor and Sarah Hartshorne, on 24 Jan 1743 in Woodbridge, Middlesex, New Jersey.

Marriage record, John Webster and Anna Taylor.

John Webster and Anna Taylor had the following children:

  1. William Webster was born on 15 Nov 1744 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey. He died on 02 May 1763.
  2. Sarah Webster was born on 30 Jan 1747 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey. She married Isaac Thorn on 24 Feb 1766.
  3. Taylor Webster was born on 18 Jan 1748/49 in Essex, New Jersey (Plainfield Monthly Meeting, this area is now in Union County). He married Hannah Jackson on 22 Feb 1769 in Essex, New Jersey, USA (Plainfield Monthly Meeting). He died before 12 Sep 1802 in Ross, Ohio.
  4. John Webster was born on 22 Nov 1750 in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He married Christiana Vail on 28 Feb 1776 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey. He died on 25 Nov 1776 in New Jersey.
  5. Susannah Webster was born on 22 Jun 1753 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey. She married David Lenox in 1782 in New York, New York. She died between 01 May 1814–01 Jun 1815 in New York, New York.
  6. Catharine Webster was born on 23 Aug 1756 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey. She married Samuel Pound on 26 Aug 1772. She died on 18 Mar 1836.
  7. Hugh Webster was born on 27 Jul 1758 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey. He married Sarah Moore on 29 May 1781.He died on 19 Mar 1834 in Norwich, Ontario, Canada.
  8. Anna Webster was born on 06 Sep 1760 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey. She died on 20 Feb 1822 in Plainfield, Union, New Jersey.

Anna Taylor Webster died on 20 May 1762. John Webster became a widower with several young children, ranging in age from one to 17-years old.

When he was 51, he married Margaret Ford, daughter of Thomas Ford, on 27 Sep 1769 at the Plainfield Monthly Meeting. John Webster and Margaret Ford had no children.

In 1763, John Webster and other Webster family members were instrumental in opening the road to Rahway (now known as Watchung Avenue). The Webster family also built the first grist mill, on Green Brook.

As a Quaker, John Webster was not a soldier in the American Revolution. He was, however, affected by the war. In 1776, the nearby Woodbridge Quaker meeting house was occupied by soldiers. We don’t know the exact extent of John Webster’s contribution, but Quakers in the area were fined for refusing to bear arms and/or pay war tax.

This Meeting is informed that a Number of Soldiers have entered some time ago, & still abide in the meetinghouse in Woodbridge. Joseph Shotwell, Benjamin Shotwell, Abraham Shotwell, John Haydock, John & Hugh Webster are appointed to enquire in what manner they have taken possession thereof, and whether they obstruct Friends from meeting quietly therein, & to visit that Meeting at times while they remain there.

Plainfield, August 21st

The Friends appointed to visit the meeting at Woodbridge & enquire how the Soldiers came possess’d of the Meeting house, report they took Possession of it without leave from any Friends; they at times continue there yet, but dont much interrupt Friends in time of Meeting.

Rahway, September 18th

As part of a committee, John Webster and his Quaker neighbors finally decided in 1787, that they would build a new meeting house at Plainfield. The location selected was on three-acres of land near John’s house. After everything was approved, they went about building a 34′ x 48′ building. They held their first meeting in the new structure on 20th eighth month 1788.

In 1788, John Webster granted his son Taylor Webster the right to construct a race-way from the pond to a new mill on the mountain road (now Somerset Street).

John Webster died on 29 Sep 1800. He was 82-years old at the time of his death. He was buried in at the Friends Meeting House Cemetery in Plainfield.

John Webster’s estate was settled in what was then Essex County, New Jersey. He bequeathed his property as follows:

  • To his wife Margaret.
    • £100 to be paid by his son Hugh.
    • One bed and furniture.
    • One Bible.
    • One side saddle.
    • Two bonds for £18 against Richard Appleton.
    • Support, during her life.
  • To his son Taylor Webster, £5.
  • To his daughter Susanna Lennox, £60.
  • To his daughter Catharine Pound, £50.
  • To his daughter Anna Fitz Randolph, £50.
  • To his granddaughters Anna Saunders, Catharine Thorn, and Margaret Thorn, £50 to be divided between them.
  • To his granddaughter Sarah Webster, daughter of son John, deceased, £100, when she reached the age of 18-years.
  • To his daughter-in-law Mary Webster, £25.
  • To his son Hugh, wearing apparel.
  • John Webster stipulated that his son Taylor, daughter-in-law Mary Webster, and four granddaughters were not obliged to support his widow Margaret, even if her share of the estate wasn’t enough to support her. But these people also were not given any part of the rest of John’s estate. Instead, it was to be divided among the other legatees.
  • He named his son Hugh, son-in-law Samuel Pound, and kinsman John Webster Jr. as executors.

Where is he in the tree?

Relationship chart, Lona Iona Fawcett to John Webster.
Pedigree chart, John Webster.

Selected Sources:

Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Births 1705-1901 Deaths -1705-1908 Marriages, 1712-1885;Collection: Quaker Meeting Records; Call Number: MR Ph:660., Annals of our colonial ancestors and their descendants, or, Our Quaker forefathers and their posterity … embracing a genealog (Provo, UT, The Generations Network, Inc., 2005),, pp. 12-15 ( : accessed 17 Apr 2019).

“The Story of the Friends in Plainfield,” (accessed 17 Apr 2019), Rahway & Plainfield Friends (Quaker) Meeting, discussion list ( Woodbridge and vicinity[database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations Inc, 2004, Section: Chapter XIX. 1751-1788. The Quakers… Original data: Dally, Joseph W.. Woodbridge and vicinity : the story of a New Jersey township : embracing the history of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Metuchen and contiguous places, from the earliest times …. New Brunswick, N.J.: A.E. Gordon, 1984. New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: New Jersey State Archives. New Jersey, Published Archives Series, First Series. Trenton, New Jersey: John L Murphy Publishing Company. Quaker miscellany, New Jersey [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations Inc, 2005. Section: Historical sketch of meetinghouse at Plainfield.

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