This famous surname recorded as Webb, Webbe, Webber and Webster, is Olde English pre 7th Century. It derives from the word "web", meaning to weave. Originally a male occupational name, the term "webbe" referred specifically to a male weaver and later "webster" to a female weaver; although this distinction was not always made in medieval English. In the pipe rolls of the county of Suffolk, we find Osbert Webbe so recorded in 1221 and Alice la Webbe, in the rolls of the borough of Colchester, in 1327. The following quotation from the famous medieval book of social history "Piers Plowman" reads: "My wife was a webbe and woollen cloth made". Later church recordings of the post medieval period include: Mary Webb, the daughter of George Webb, who was christened on March 5th 1550 at the church of St. Mary Woolnoth, in the city of London, and Mary Webbe who was christened on February 17th 1566, at the church of St. Benet Fink, also city of London. One of the earliest famine emigrants who fled Ireland in the tragic year of 1846 was Richard Webb, aged 20 yrs., who sailed on the "coffin" ship "Cornelia of Liverpool" bound for New York on January 26th 1846. Rather more happily Captain Webb was the first person to swim the twenty two miles of the English Channel in 1872. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alger se Webba which was dated circa 1100, in the "Olde English Byname Register", during the reign of King William 11, known as "Rufus", 1087 - 1100. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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