Maps and Timelines


Webster Genealogy

Leeds, San Francisco, Southport, Connecticut

This is still a work in progress...

Webster Sewing Machines




Sewing Machines

Benjamin Webster (m. Calam)

Benjamin documents

275 Maple Street, Bridgeport

Letters to William

California timeline


The collaboration

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Contact Beth Northrop
ejnorth123 AT

It's my understanding that the Webster machine were used pretty widely in India for sewing "jute" or burlap bags for food, spices etc.

Both of these appear to be the original patent in two styles a 2-Notch Needle and a 9-Notch Needle, while the advertisements appear to be for the "Improved".

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The top two appear to be the earliest. Note the machine image is of the "Websters' Patent Leeds" and "Websters' Patent" . The third shows a machine image with the name "Websters' Improved Patent".


The demand for machinery and equipment produced by the textile industry created opportunities for engineers in Leeds. One of the first was Matthew Murray, who after helping John Marshall introduce machinery into the flax spinning industry, was a leading figure in establishing the company of Fenton, Murray and Wood at the Round Foundry in 1795.

Here they produced textile machinery, steam engines and locomotives, including the world's first commercially successful steam locomotive which came into service in 1812 for the nearby Middleton Colliery.

During the nineteenth century many small, and some giant, engineering companies grew in Leeds, exporting locomotives, cranes, traction engines and other heavy engineering products around the nation and around the globe.

By 1861 engineering was the second largest employer in the city and by 1900 the biggest, employing 20% of the male workforce.

The firm of Boulton and Watt in Birmingham were so alarmed by Matthew Murray establishing a works in Leeds that they bought adjoining property in an effort to prevent the company expanding, they also engaged in blatant spying or, as it is now known, industrial espionage.

In the second half of the nineteenth century the woollen industry in Leeds declined in the face of competition from other growing towns like Bradford. Another textile related industry appeared to take its place, often in the mills abandoned by the woollen manufacturers - ready made clothing. The inspiration behind this new industry came from John Barran. Barran came up with the revolutionary idea of off the peg, ready-made clothing.

In the 1850s Barran applied new technology to the industry introducing Singer sewing machines and, more innovatively, a new type of band knife made by Leeds engineers, Greenwood and Batley. The industry flourished in Leeds with a number of companies involved who later became household names, such as Burtons and Hepworths.

The big clothing factories were supplemented by large numbers of sweatshops where Jewish immigrants, driven from Russia and Poland after 1881, provided a cheap workforce. The importance of the industry can be gauged from the fact that by 1911 a quarter of women workers in Leeds were employed in the clothing industry.



Elias Howe seemed to have the first patent on sewing machines - this ran out in 1867 leading to more freedom for others to produce them .- this ties in with the time William went to the US.

William Webster and Eddington Detrick had a bag sewing patent , number 182249 dated Jan 1876.


cited as recently as2005

The issue, submitted counsel, was whether the right of the pursuer to payment from the defenders was a joint right or a several right shared by the vendors. Where the obligation is not divisible, all the creditors must sue. (McBryde, The Law of Contract in Scotland (2nd edit.) para 11.31; Detrick & Webster v Laing's Patent Overhead Handstitch Sewing Machine Co Ltd 1885 12R 416