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HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL REGISTER.
· DANIEL WEBSTER. [Communicated to the Register by the Rev. Elias Nason.] Tus illustrious orator, jurist and statesman, was the youngest son of the Hon. Ebenezer and Abigail (Eastman) Webster, and was born in a small cottage in the town of Salisbury, N. H., on the 18th day of January, 1782.
On the paternal side he was descended from Mr. Thomas' WEBSTER, of Ormsby, Norfolk County, England, who died there in April, 1634,* leaving a widow Margery, and an only son THOMAS,” who was admitted a freeman in Massachusetts in 1644, married Sarah Brewer, Nov. 2, 1657, and died at Hampton, N. H., Jan. 5, 1715, at the advanced age of 83 years ;t leaving, inter alios, Ebenezer, born at Hampton, Aug. 1, 1667, married Hannah Judkins, July 25, 1709, and died at Kingston, N. H., Feb. 21, 1736. Of their issue, EBENEZER,“ S born Oct. 10, 1714, married, July 20, 1738, Susanna, a descendant of the Rev. Stephen Batchelder, of Hampton, and had eight children, of whom the oldest, EBEXezer," born at Kingston on the 22d of April, 1739, married, lst, Mehitable Smith, Jan. 8, 1761, by whom he had Olivia, Ebenezer, and Susanna born Oct., 1766, married John Colby, David who died at Hampstead, and Joseph who died in Salisbury ; 2d, Abigail Eastman, of Salisbury, Mass., Oct. 13, 1774, and had issue : Mehitable, Abigail who married William Haddock, Ezekiel born April 11, 1780, DANIEL, and Sarah|| born May 3, 1784.
See Register, ix. 159. + Thomas? lived in Hampton on the Drake road, near Webster's Brook," and owned a part of the "small gains.” He was one of the grand jnrors at the Court of Common Pleas held at Portsmouth, Feb. 13, 1682. (Christopher Toppan's “ First Settlers of Hampton," in MS.]
I Ebenezer.3-He was a soldier in the Indian wars, under Captains Sherburne and Noyes, and was probably killed in the service. He was one of the grantees of Kingston, to which place he removed in 1700.-[Id., also Kingston Town Records. ]
Ebenezer lived in a small house, the cellar of which may still be seen, on the left side of the road leading from the East Kingston Depot to Kingston. He was poor, versatile and witty, obtaining a scanty livelihood by hatchelling flax, cutting wood, shcaring sheep, and slaughtering swine. His wife, however, was a woman of marked ability.
She married Col. Ebenezer Webster, in 1808, and settled on the # Webster Place," in Franklin, N. H. She died March 29, 1811, leaving an only daughter, Emily, who married Dr. E. K. Webster, of Boscawen (1861). Col. W. died June 3, 1861.
The father, Ebenezer, was early apprenticed to Col. Ebenezer Stevens, of Kingston, who in 1749 became one of the leading proprietors of a large tract of land at the confluence of the Pemegewasset and Winnepesaukee rivers, which was, in honor of his name, called Stevenstown ; but subsequently, Salisbury. To this new settlement, after the close of the old French war, in which the apprentice had served honorably, especially in Robert Rogers's celebrated company of Rangers, he came with many other Kingston families, built bim a log cabin on a little brawling stream called “Punch Brook," where he afterwards erected a mill, and entered with his comrades on the subjugation of the wilderness. On the breaking out of the Revolution he went into the army as captain, and was in the battles at Bennington, White Plains, &c., doing effective service for his country. About the year 1770, he erected a house of one story, in which his son Daniel was born ; and two years subsequent to this event removed to a tavern house which he occupied till 1800, when he settled on the “ Webster Place,” where he died, April 22d, 1806. He held many responsible offices, both of town and state ; was one of the Electors for President when Washington was chosen to that office, and was appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Hillsborough, in 1791, which office he held until his decease. He was about six feet in stature, well proportioned and of commanding aspect. His eye was dark and piercing, his forehead large and massive ; his memory was remarkably retentive, and his conduct was guided by strict integrity and by sterling common sense.
On the maternal side. Daniel Webster's earliest American ancestor was Roger EASTMAN,' anciently spelled Easman, who was born in Wales, in 1611, and is supposed to have come to America from Southampton in the “Confidence," in 1638 (ante, ii. 10, and xiv. 335), and who settled at Salisbury, Mass., in 1640. Of his ten children, SAMUEL,2 * the youngest, born in Salisbury, Sept. 20, 1657, m. Elizabeth Severance in 1686, was one of the grantees of Kingston, N. H., whither he removed about 1720. He died, Feb. 27, 1725, having had twelve children, of whom Thomas, born January 21, 1703, married Abigail French, January 1, 1729, and had issue, inter alios, ABIGAIL,4 born July 10, 1737, married the Hon. Ebenezer Webster, of Salisbury, N. H., whom she survived ten years, and died at the “ Webster Place" on the 14th day of April, 1816, aged 78 years.
Mrs. Webster was a woman of rare intellectual endowments and of deep religious sentiment--a helpmate indeed for such a man as had chosen her to preside over his household. She early instilled into the minds of her sons Ezekiel and Daniel, the principles of religion and that love of learning which glowed more and more fervently to the end.
Daniel learned to read as if by intuition, and perused with avidity
Among the residents of Kingston, N. H., when the Rev. Ward Clark took the charge of the church, Sept. 29, 1725, I find on the church records: Samuel Easeman, Esq., died Feb. 27, 1726; Benjamin Judkins; Samuel Stevens; Samuel Easeman, Jr. married Sarah Clough, Nov. 7, 1729 ; Thomas Webster; Thomas Webster, Jr.; John Webster; Ehenezer Webster (ancestor of Daniel). Also, Ebenezer Eastinan, married Mary Sleeper, May 5, 1726; Joseph Eastman, m. Patience Smith, Feb. 9, 1729; and Edward Eastman, m. Deliverance Graves, 1730. Col. John Eastman, born Feb. 24, 1741, m. Joanna French, and removed to Salisbury, N. H., where he died Sept. 14, 1804.
t On her grave stone, 76 years.
whatever books his father's house and a scanty social library afforded. Among them was a copy of the “ Spectator,” in which he found the famous old ballad of “ Chevy Chase,” which gave him great delight. He also read and committed to memory Pope's “Essay on Man," and many of the Psalms and Hymns of Dr. Watts, which continued to be favorites with him to the end of life.
Salisbury being then upon the frontier line afforded nothing more in the way of public instruction than two or three itinerating school teachers of slender attainments, so that the future orator did not really commence on his student life until the spring of 1796, when it was decided, after much deliberation in his father's home, to send him down to the academy at Exeter. He was then about 14 years of age, and attended by his father, came riding into town upon a side-saddle, dressed in coarse tow cloth and cow-hide shoes. He went immediately to board with Ebenezer Clifford, Esq., an old friend of the Webster family. Mr. Cliford was an architect, and built the “images” for the comical Timothy Dexter of warming-pan memory, in Newburyport. The house he occupied is the most remarkable one in Exeter. It was built originally of logs, and for a garrison, and the port-holes, together with a capacious enclosure for the secretion of men and arms, may still be seen.
Gen. Peter Gilman entertained George Whitefield in this house, and in it the distinguished preacher slept the night but one before he died. It was used in the Revolution as a rendezvous for troops, and the rooms in which Governor Wentworth, Whitefield and Webster slept are still in perfect order.
When Mr. Webster came to board with Mr. Clifford, he was what might be termed a great awkward country boy. His hair was black as jet, long, thin and straight; his eyes were large, his eye-brows came together over them. He sat quite awkwardly at the table, and knew not how to hold his knife and fork.
He spent most of his leisure time with his friend IIarper, playing with the tools in Mr. Clifford's cabinet shop, and there once set himself to construct the image of a saint ; but failing to come up to his beau ideal, he said, “it might answer well enough for the devil, and his devil it should be.”
Lewis Cass attended the academy at the same time with Webster, and it was once observed by Dr. Abbott, the accomplished principal, that while Lewis made quite a fluttering with the leaves of his lexicon, Daniel toiled more quietly and prepared himself more expeditiously. These boys set out an elm tree each, upon the west side of the "campus," which are now large and flourishing, and bear the respective names of Cass and Webster.
Public declamation Webster at that age abominated ; and though he often prepared himself most thoroughly “to mount the rostrum," his courage always failed him when the trying moment came; he was, however, an admirable reader, and under the genial tuition of the celebrated Joseph Stevens Buckminster, made remarkable progress in his studies, as the following incident will make evident.
At the summing up of the standing of the members of the 2d class, for the 2d quarter, Mr. Nicholas Emery, one of the teachers, stood before it at the closing hour, and broke the silence thus :-“ Daniel Webster, gather up your books and take down your cap." Expul