Alexander Webster (1708 - 1784)

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Death: Died
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About Alexander Webster

Dr. Alexander Webster (1708-84), was the eminent Edinburgh clergyman, Minister of the Tolbooth Kirk, sometime Moderator of the General Assembly and occasional poet.

Biographical Summary

Alexander Webster, born 1707, son of James W., min. of the Second Charge ; educated at High School and Univ. of Edinburgh ; licen. by Presb. of Haddington 13th March 1733; ord. to Culross 6th Sept. 1733; called 6th Jan., trans, and adm. 2nd June 1737. To him the Church is indebted for the promotion and prosperity of its fund for ministers' widows and children. He received the thanks of the General Assembly, 15th May 1744, "for the extraordinary pains and trouble taken by him in the rise and progress of the scheme," the first institution of its kind in Scotland. He was appointed chaplain to Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1748, and was Moderator of Assembly, 24th May 1753. In 1755 he drew up an account of the people, and made what was practically the first census of the population of Scotland for the information of Government ; D.D. (Edinburgh, 24th Nov. 1760) ; one of an Assembly deputation who presented an address to George III. on his accession, 20th Dec. 1760 ; general collector of the Ministers' Widows' Fund, 26th June 1771. He was one of His Majesty's Chaplains in Ordinary, and a Dean of the Chapel Royal. He died 25th Jan. 1784. Though strictly evangelical in doctrine, he was of convivial and social habits, and withal so popular and beloved that sittings in the Tolbooth Church were not easily obtained, which led one of the city functionaries to observe, "it was easier to get a seat in the kingdom o' heivin than i' the Tolbuith kirk." Webster is said to have suggested the erection of the New Town, Edinburgh. He was enthusiastic in furthering the civilisation of the Highlands by the promulgation of the gospel and the spread of industry. He marr. 13th June 1737, Mary (died 28th Nov. 1766), eldest daugh. of Colonel John Erskine, brother of Sir Charles E. of Alva, Bart., and had issue —

  • John, born 31st May 1738 ;
  • James, born 9th Jan. 1740;
  • George, civil paymaster, H.E.I.C.S., born 15th Oct. 1744, died in Bengal, July 1794 ;
  • William, born 21st Dec. 1750, died 9th Jan. 1767;
  • Ann, born 22nd Sept. 1752 (marr. Captain Eyre Robert Mingay, of the 66th Foot), died 16th May 1786 ;
  • Alexander, mate of the Dutton East Indiaman, born 29th Sept. 1754, died on his passage to India in 1782 ;
  • Basil, born 8th Aug. 1757, died 2nd Dec. 1759.

SOURCE: Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the reformation, Vol. I, page 119

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