WEBB, THOMAS. (1725–1796). British officer and evangelist. Born in England on 31 May 1725, Webb became quartermaster of the Forty-eighth Regiment on 29 October 1754, and he was promoted to lieutenant on 9 November 1755. After serving at the siege of Louisburg in 1758, he was seriously wounded at the Battle of Montmorency on 31 July 1759. He settled in Albany, marrying an American woman and writing Military Treatise on the Appointments of the Army (1760). This small book pointed out the difficulties of supplying troops with sufficient weaponry in America and the inadequacy of British weapons for that service, recommending lighter guns. After his wife died, Webb returned to Britain to sell his commission, falling into a depression that ended with a vision of Christ in March 1765. Becoming a Methodist itinerant, he traveled through England and New York in his British uniform, employing his military persona and rhetoric to maximum effect. His vigorous style attracted attention and money, the latter helping to build churches in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Jersey. He also aroused a great deal of skepticism from those, such as Charles Wesley, who thought his stories unlikely and his visions slightly unnerving. Webb was a regular correspondent of the earl of Dartmouth, keeping the colonial secretary advised of events in America. These exchanges led to Webb's being arrested on suspicion of spying, and he was jailed at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Webb's second wife, Grace Gilbert, personally persuaded General Washington to free her husband on condition that he return to England, which he and his family did in August 1778. Webb continued to preach around England, finally settling in Bristol, where he died on 20 December 1796.
Baker, Frank. From Wesley to Asbury: Studies in Early American Methodism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1976.