Webb, James (? - 1761)

Governor, 1760

James Webb was probably born in England. By 1728 he was serving in the British navy., becoming commander of the Jamaica in 1745 and the following year, captain of the Surprise. Webb was a keen naval officer and, as a captain in Seven Years War, he demonstrated considerable skill in capturing French privateers. Webb commanded the Speedwell, the Sunderland, the St. Albans, the Hampton Court, and the Antelope. He was made governor of Newfoundland in 1760.

Webb's skills were put to good use in Newfoundland, where he captured a number of enemy vessels while patrolling the waters of the island, particularly along the French Treaty Shore . His most famous capture was the French privateering vessel, Tavignon, in Noddy Harbour near the tip of the Northern Peninsula. Webb burned the ship and some French fishing stages. Its cargo of approximately 3600 quintals of fish was eventually sold by Newfoundland fishermen. The 125 fishing ships that sailed to Newfoundland that year were effectively protected by Webb's ability.

Webb attended to the regular duties of governor: selecting magistrates, hearing court cases, administering land leases, and repressing illegal trade. Webb also ordered fairer business practices between merchants and fishermen. In 1760 Webb took three captured Inuit to Chateau Bay, gave them gifts, and released them. As an expression of gratitude, the Inuit returned with whalebone for trade; this stimulated more regular commerce with the Labrador Inuit. Webb claimed Chateau Bay for the Crown, charted it, and renamed it York Harbour.

Webb's last service as governor of Newfoundland was escorting ships to Spain and Portugal to deliver fish. In 1761, he became ill while preparing for his return to Newfoundland. Webb spent a short period convalescing but he never returned to Newfoundland. He died soon after at Plymouth Sound, England.

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