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Webb, James (1792–1856)

Hobart Huson Biography Entry

James Webb, legislator and judge, son of Francis and Frances (Walker) Webb, was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, on March 31, 1792. In 1810 the family moved to Janes County, Georgia, then to Hancock County, where the father died. When he was seventeen years old, Webb taught school for one year and then returned to Virginia to work in the office of the county clerk of Essex County, where he began the study of law. He served in the War of 1812 and in 1816 was admitted to the Virginia bar. In 1819 he returned to Georgia. In 1823 he moved to Jackson County, Florida, where he practiced law and lived at Webbville, a place named in his honor. Webb was appointed United States district judge for Florida by John Quincy Adams and held the office until 1838, when he resigned to move to Houston, Texas. Soon afterward he moved to Austin and became a friend and adviser of Mirabeau B. Lamar, who appointed him secretary of the treasury and then secretary of state. Webb also held the post of attorney general from November 18, 1839, to March 20, 1841, when he was sent as minister to Mexico, but that country refused to receive him, and he returned to Texas. Webb represented the Travis-Bastrop-Fayette-Gonzales district as senator in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth congresses, 1841–44, and served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He retired to private practice in 1844 and became partner of Francis A. Morris and later of Williamson S. Oldham. He was a member of the Convention of 1845, which endorsed him for United States district judge for Texas. From 1846 to 1849 Webb and Thomas H. Duval were reporters for the state Supreme Court and produced the first three volumes of the Texas Reports. Governor Peter H. Bell appointed Webb secretary of state, a position he held from December 28, 1849, until his resignation in July 1851. After the marriage of his daughter Mary Elizabeth to Henry L. Kinney, Webb moved to Corpus Christi. He became first judge of the Fourteenth Judicial District, which included Corpus Christi when the district was established in 1854, and was elected to the judgeship in 1856. Webb married Rachel Elizabeth Lamar of Hancock County, Georgia, on June 24, 1813. He was a Mason and grand master of the Texas lodge in 1844. He died on November 1, 1856, while en route to Goliad to hold court. He was buried in the City Cemetery at Goliad. Webb County, in Southwest Texas, was named in his honor.

Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

Categories:

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Government Officials
  • Senate
  • State Legislators
  • Eighth Legislature (1859-1861)
  • Seventh Legislature (1857-1858)
  • Sixth Legislature (1855-1856)

Time Periods:

  • Republic of Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Hobart Huson, “Webb, James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 22, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/webb-james.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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