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Webb

Webb

From FHM issue 156:

What's in a name?: Webb

The surname Webb is England and Wales’s 79th most popular surname. This isn’t surprising as it was an occupational surname for a weaver and without weavers our ancestors wouldn’t have had clothes. Weaving required skill and also fairly complicated equipment, in the form of looms, and these were passed down in families for generations – in fact, this is how we derive the term ‘heirloom’.

          The name has historically been spelled in several different ways – we can find recorded a ‘se Webba’ in about 1100, a ‘Webbe’ in 1221 and a ‘le Webbes’ in 1337, among others. This is partly because the Old English word had masculine and feminine endings – webbe for female weavers and webba for men.

          Interesting Webbes include Edward Webbe, a master gunner and adventurer, who started his career as a servant to an Englishman in Moscow. Moscow was burned to the ground by the Crim Tartars in 1571, Edward was enslaved, and he became a master gunner for the Turks at Tunis, before being ransomed and brought back to Europe, where he performed the same task, for a respectable salary, for Henri IV of France.

          The arms shown here are those of the Webbs of Oldstock, Wiltshire. They are blazoned Gules, a cross between four falcons Or, with the crest A demi eagle displayed, issuing out of a ducal coronet Or. Similar arms are encountered in Webb families elsewhere in Dorset (at Motcombe, for example), suggesting interrelationships.

The Webbs of Oldstock were noted for their adherence to Catholicism throughout the penal times. It is possible that their arms denote a degree of piety in earlier times too, for the cross is said to denote a Crusader, and the falcons may also have been chosen for their association with the Holy Land too.

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