Welcome to the Webb Surname DNA Project website. We are a large group of genealogists who have chosen to incorporate the science of DNA into our research to help break through our “brick walls,” find relatives and strengthen paper trails.
Project Overview - 2015
The WEBB Surname DNA Project began in February of 2002 with two participants who were hopeful of a match. Other participants quickly followed as Webb researchers learned about the potential of this valuable genealogical tool. In its earliest stages, the project mainly focused on Webb families of the Southeast. Over the years it has expanded to include hundreds of members from all regions of the United States, as well as participants from England, Ireland, Australia, and Canada. We now enjoy a membership of over 450 participants.
Included in the list of the many successes of the project are the establishment in 2004 of the Christopher Webb line of Baintree, Massachusetts, and the Jonathan Webb line of Stamford, Connecticut. In 2005 our first trans-Atlantic match occurred when a Wiltshire, England participant matched a Southern Webb family. We continue to make new trans-Atlantic matches. In 2012 a descendant of Humphrey Webb b. c1600 of Oxfordshire, England made a DNA match to several Virginia members, and descendants of John Webb b. 1694 m. Mary Boone of Pennsylvania made a DNA match to a descendant of John Webb b. 1795 of Co. Armagh, Ireland.
All WEBBs are welcome to participate in the project. Our goal is to continue to grow to include all lines of the WEBB surname, from the early families of Colonial America to lines around the world.
1. English and Scottish: occupational name for a weaver, early Middle English webbe, from Old English webba (a primary derivative of wefan ‘to weave’; compare Weaver 1). This word survived into Middle English long enough to give rise to the surname, but was already obsolescent as an agent noun; hence the secondary forms with the agent suffixes -er and -ster.
[Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press]
Surnames were originally adopted out of necessity as civilization became more complex. When governments were formed, and religion became organized, it was necessary to adopt names that would define one person from another with the same given name. There is some indication that when taxes became a part of society, surnames quickly followed.
English surnames in particular arose from several different origins. Some were formed from the given name of the father, with prefixes or suffixes added and used to mean “son of” as seen in names like Williamson and Thomason. Or the use of "Mac" as in McDonald, meaning "son of" Donald in Gaelic. Other prefixes of this kind are O’ as in O’ Neil and Fitz, as in Fitzpatrick.
A second type of surname was taken from the personal characteristics of a person. Examples of this are the surnames Good, Short, White and Wise. A third came from a person’s locality or the place in which they lived. This is thought to be the largest class of surnames and was adopted by royalty and nobility. This type was introduced to England by the Normans.
The final type of surname was derived from occupations. This came into use before the Norman Conquest. Some names of this type were official names such as Chamberlain, Alderman and Deacon. But trade and craft names were also adopted. One of these occupational surnames is WEBB or WEBBE, which originally was the name for a male “weaver of cloth.”
One of the first written examples of the surname was the name Osbert Webbe in the county of Suffolk, listed in the pipe rolls. But, according to surnamedb.com, the oldest known record to include this family name is the “Olde English Byname Register.” Recorded in this register is the name "Alger se Webba" and it dates to about the year 1100 during the reign of King William the Second [1087-1100].
Because occupations didn’t necessarily conform to any rules of geography or place, it was natural that many families over a broad geographical area adopted the surname WEBB and this could account for so many families sharing the name WEBB without sharing the same ancestry.