First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

William Richard WEBB (1878–1918)

William Richard Webb was born in Headington Quarry in 1878, the son of William Webb (born in Henley Workhouse in 1856 to a single woman, Ann Webb of Pyrton) and Sarah Keary or Kerry (born at Cowley Marsh in 1855 and baptised at St James's Church in Cowley on 18 November).

At the time of the 1871 census William Richard Webb’s father, William Webb (16) was living in Headington Quarry but recorded as William Jones (as his mother had married a man called Louis or Lewis Jones): he was then working as a labourer, probably in the brickyard. His future wife, Sarah Keary or Kerry, had also come to Quarry as a child in c.1859 when her father, the higgler Richard Pinnell Keary (or Kerry), settled at Shotover Hill Place with his widower father of the same name.

His parents were married at Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry on 26 February 1876 and had the following children:

  • William Richard Webb (born in Quarry in 1878 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 28 April)
  • Sarah Ann Webb (born in Quarry in 1879 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry on 31 August):
    died aged three and buried in its churchyard on 13 January 1883)
  • Elizabeth Emily Webb (born in Quarry in 1882 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 26 March);
    died aged six and buried in its churchyard on 9 June 1888)
  • Harriet Maud Webb, later known as Maud Harriet Webb (born in Quarry in 1883 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 29 July)
  • Charles Henry Webb (born in Quarry in 1886 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 30 May).

The 1881 census shows William Richard Webb (3) living at Clerk’s Row in Headington Quarry with his father William (25), who was a brickyard labourer, his mother Sarah (25), and his sister Sarah Ann (1).

Around the time of William’s eighth birthday in 1886, his father William Webb (30) died of a lumbar abscess, and was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard on 30 January.

By the time of the 1891 census William (13) had moved to the home in Quarry of his paternal grandmother, Mrs Ann Jones, née Webb (54) and her husband, the agricultural labourer Lewis Jones (55). Meanwhile his widowed mother Sarah Webb (37) was working as a laundress and living in Quarry with William's two surviving siblings Harriet Maud (8) and Charles (6).

On 26 February 1893 at Holy Trinity Church William Richard Webb’s mother Sarah married her second husband, the labourer John Thomas Ward, a widower with at least two children. Both signed the marriage register with a cross, and her father Richard Pinnell Kerry was now described as a poulterer rather than a higgler. She had three more children with her second husband, who was a labourer:

  • Oliver Ward (born in Quarry in 1894 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 27 May)
  • Sarah Louise Ward (born in Quarry in 1895 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 29 December)
  • Edward James Ward (born in Quarry in early 1897 and privately baptised by Holy Trinity Church on 25 January);
    died the next day at the age of three weeks and buried in the churchyard on 30 January 1897).

At the time of the 1901 census William Richard Webb (23) was a blacksmith, and was still boarding with his grandmother Ann Webb (63), who was working as a laundress, and his step-grandfather Lewis Jones (63), who was still a labourer on the parish roads: their address was given as Winterbourne’s Piece in Headington Quarry. Meanwhile his mother Mrs Sarah Ward  (48) was still a laundress, working on account in her own home at Wesleyan Terrace in Quarry: with her were her second husband John Thomas Ward (45), who was a builder's labourer and their children Oliver (7) and Sarah (5), and also two of her children from her first marriage: Harriet Webb (18), who was working as a laundry maid, and Charles Webb (16), who was a brickmerchant's carter.  Also living with them was Sarah's unmarried sister Clara Kerry (36), who also worked as a laundry maid.

William Richard Webb’s mother Mrs Sarah Ward died in 1908 at the age of 54 and was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard on 18 March.

The 1911 census shows William's stepfather John Ward living in Quarry High Street with William's siblings Harriet and Charles Webb and his step-siblings Oliver and Sarah Ward.

Webb’s grave at Holy Trinity Church




Poppy In the First World War William Richard Webb served as a Shoeing Smith in the 282nd Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (Service No. 98980). He was presumaby brought back home wounded or ill, as he died in Oxford at the age of 40 on 26 November 1918.

He was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard four days later.


Left: Photograph of his grave taken in 2009. The inscription reads:


Emblem of the Royal Field Artillery with their motto:


William Richard Webb’s is also remembered on the stone plaque in the porch of Holy Trinity Church.





Quarry memorial

William’s two surviving full siblings
  • Maud Harriet Webb (born 1883) married the bricklayer William Thomas Lee at St James's Church in Cowley on 6 September 1902: they were both then living at Hensington Square in Cowley. Her husband died of influenza in 1918 at the age of 36.
  • Charles Henry Webb (born 1886) was still working as a labourer in Headington Quarry when he married the widowed Old Headington laundress Mrs Agnes Maud Morris (39) at St Andrew's Church on 23 November 1919.

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