Webster, John White, 1793-1850

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Harvard professor; murderer of Dr. Parkman.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to the Rev. John Pierpont, 1824 May 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270586850

Murderer of Dr. George Parkman.

From the description of Letter : to William Hickling Prescott, 1850 Aug. 29. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 41415981

Professor of chemistry at Harvard University.

From the description of Letter, 1845, Sept. 24 : Cambridge, MA. (Duke University). WorldCat record id: 31822648

Webster graduated from Harvard in 1811 and taught chemistry and mineralogy at Harvard.

From the description of Papers of John White Webster, 1840-1849 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122611195

Dr. John White Webster (1793-1850) graduated from Harvard in 1811 and was appointed Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy at the college. He was the author of several technical books and a member of many learned societies. In 1850 he was tried, convicted, and executed for the grisly murder of Dr. George Parkman (1790-1849), physician and notable property owner in Boston, a man to whom Webster was heavily indebted and whom he had attempted to defraud.

From the description of Papers, 1824-1850. (American Antiquarian Society). WorldCat record id: 225194037

John White Webster (1793-1850), a physician and chemist in Boston, Massachusetts, served as Lecturer on Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology at Harvard from 1824 to 1826; Adjunct Professor of Chemistry from 1826 to 1827; and Erving Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy from 1827 to 1850. After receiving his Doctor of Medicine from Harvard in 1815, Webster completed his medical studies in London. Webster pursued a medical practice in Boston until his appointment as Lecturer on Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology in 1824, confining his instruction to the Harvard Medical School. Like his predecessors, Webster used experiments to demonstrate the principles of chemistry and recent scientific discoveries.

Webster served as an associate editor of the Boston Journal of Philosophy of Arts (1823-1826) and edited two well-known foreign works for use in the United States, Elements of Chemistry (1827) by Andrew Fyfe (1792-1861) and Animal Chemistry or Organic Chemistry by Justus Liebig (1803-1873). In 1826, Webster published a textbook designed for students studying chemistry at Harvard, A Manual of Chemistry. This chemistry book presented the latest advances in chemistry and discussed general chemical principals, electronegative substances, electropositive substances, metals and their combination with other substances, mineral analysis, and vegetable and animal substances.

In March 1850, Webster was arrested for the murder of Dr. George Parkman (1791-1849), a well-known Boston physician. He was found guilty and was hanged on August 30, 1850.

The chair of Chemistry was endowed as the Erving Professorship of Chemistry and Materia Medica in 1791, under the will of William Erving (A.B. 1753), and was known by this title until 1816. From 1816 to 1827, the professorship was the known as the Erving Professorship of Chemistry. From 1827 to 1894, it was entitled the Erving Professorship of Chemistry and Mineralogy. In 1894, "Mineralogy" was removed from the title and the professorship was known as the Erving Professorship of Chemistry.

The previous holders of the Erving Professorship of Chemistry were Aaron Dexter (1791-1816) and John Gorham (1816-1827).

From the guide to the Records of the Erving Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy kept by John White Webster, 1824-1835 and undated., (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Papers relating to his trial, 1850. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Parsons, Usher, 1788-1868. Papers, 1819-1840. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn Records of the Erving Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy kept by John White Webster, 1824-1835 and undated. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Silliman family. Silliman family papers, 1717-1977 (inclusive), 1717-1911 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Gay, Frederick Lewis, 1856-1916. Family papers, 1374-1902, bulk: 1690-1858. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Papers, 1824-1850. American Antiquarian Society
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Letters, 1850. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Papers of Thaddeus William Harris, 1818?-1852 Botany Libraries
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Papers, 1850. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Correspondence, 1827-1885. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Le Duc, William Gates, 1823-1917. Recollections of a Quartermaster 1911. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Inst. Arch. & Spec. Coll.. Horsford Family Papers.
referencedIn Autograph File, N, 1686-1975. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Letter, 1841-1847. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Brigham, Warren Luther, 1846-1880. Letters received, 1830-1879. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Russell, Charles Theodore, 1815-1896. Papers, 1846-1877. Bostonian Society
creatorOf Shaw, Lemuel, 1781-1861. Sentence of John W. Webster for the murder of George Parkman, 1850. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Letters to John M. Holley, 1821. Connecticut Historical Society
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Letter, 1845, Sept. 24 : Cambridge, MA. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn Henry Ford Museum. Charles Henry Davis Papers.
referencedIn Charles Sumner correspondence, 1829-1874. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Autograph letter signed J. W. Webster to: William Hickling Prescott January 16, 1845. Wellesley College
referencedIn Nye, Amelia Hickling Chambers, 1796-1872. Letters, 1847-1854. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Bemis, George, 1816-1878. Papers, 1794-1901, bulk: 1831-1877. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Spear, Charles, 1801-1863. The Parkman tragedy, 1850. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Autograph File, H, 1584-1988. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Harvard University Archives. College Papers, 2 D Series.
referencedIn Louis Arthur Holman collection of Keats iconography and related papers, 1752-1963. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Letter : to William Hickling Prescott, 1850 Aug. 29. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, to the Rev. John Pierpont, 1824 May 8. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Papers of John White Webster, 1840-1849 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. James Henry Coffin Papers.
creatorOf Records of the Erving Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy kept by John White Webster, 1824-1835 and undated. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Silliman family. Silliman family papers, 1717-1977 (inclusive), 1717-1911 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Crosby, James. Notes of James Crosby concerning testimony in the trial of John W. Webster for the murder of George Parkman, March 1850. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
referencedIn Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (inclusive) 1820-1888 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Clifford, John H. (John Henry), 1809-1876. Papers related to the trial of John White Webster, 1814-1937. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Briggs, George N. (George Nixon), 1796-1861. Letters received by George N. Briggs, 1850. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn North American Review, papers, 1831-1843. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Harvard University. Professorships: Erving Professorship of Chemsitry (1791), 1826-1835 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Torrey, John, 1796-1873. Papers, 1818-1859. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn Clifford, John Henry, 1809-1876. Papers, 1634-1967, bulk: 1821-1876. Library of Congress
referencedIn Cunningham, Frederic, 1826-1864. Diaries, 1843-1864. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Horsford, Eben Norton, 1818-1893. Horsford family papers, 1681-1954 1840-1893. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rensselaer Libraries
referencedIn Clarke, Charles Cowden, 1787-1877. Letter : London, to Thomas Clark, Birmingham, 1851 Feb. 14. Bryn Mawr College, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library
referencedIn Harris, Thaddeus William, 1795-1856. Papes of Thaddeus William Harris, 1818?-1852 (inclusive). Harvard University, Botany Libraries
referencedIn Harris family. Papers, 1721-1899 (bulk dates 1840-1856). Cambridge Historical Society
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Autograph letter signed J. W. Webster to: "My Dear friend." August 23, [18]50. Wellesley College
referencedIn Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Webster, John White, 1793-1850. Letters, 1841-1844. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn New York Botanical Garden Library. John Torrey Papers. New York Botanical Garden, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
referencedIn Silliman family papers, 1717-1977, 1717-1911 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Bemis, George, 1816-1878. person
associatedWith Bigelow, Jacob person
associatedWith Briggs, George N. (George Nixon), 1796-1861. person
associatedWith Brigham, Warren Luther, 1846-1880. person
associatedWith Charles Lyell person
associatedWith Clarke, Charles Cowden, 1787-1877. person
associatedWith Clifford, John Henry, 1809-1876. person
associatedWith Crosby, James. person
associatedWith Cunningham, Frederic, 1826-1864. person
correspondedWith Davis, Charles Henry person
correspondedWith Everett, Edward person
associatedWith Farrar, John person
associatedWith Fay, Judge. person
associatedWith Gay, Frederick Lewis, 1856-1916. person
correspondedWith Gray, Asa person
correspondedWith Harris family. family
associatedWith Harris, Thaddeus William, 1795-1856. person
associatedWith Harvard University. corporateBody
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Holley, John Milton, 1777-1836. person
associatedWith Holman, Louis A. (Louis Arthur), 1866-1939 person
correspondedWith Horsford, Eben N. person
associatedWith Horsford, Eben Norton, 1818-1893. person
correspondedWith Horsford, J. person
associatedWith Huidekoper, Frederic, 1817-1892. person
correspondedWith Jackson, Charles T. person
associatedWith John T. Kirkland person
associatedWith Le Duc, William Gates, 1823-1917 person
associatedWith Lincoln, Enoch, 1788-1829. person
associatedWith Lincoln, William, 1801-1843. person
correspondedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882 person
associatedWith Lyell, Charles person
associatedWith Merrick, Pliny, 1794-1867. person
associatedWith Nichols, George, 1809-1882 person
associatedWith North American Review. corporateBody
correspondedWith Norton, Lewis M. person
correspondedWith Norton, W. A. person
associatedWith Nye, Amelia Hickling Chambers, 1796-1872. person
correspondedWith Palfrey family. family
associatedWith Parkman, Francis, 1788-1852. person
associatedWith Parkman, George, 1790-1849. person
associatedWith Parsons, Usher, 1788-1868. person
associatedWith Pierpont, John, 1785-1866, person
associatedWith Prescott, William Hickling, 1796-1859. person
associatedWith Putnam, George, 1807-1878. person
associatedWith Robert Bakewell, Jr. person
associatedWith Rogers, Professor person
associatedWith Russell, Charles Theodore, 1815-1896. person
associatedWith Shaw, Lemuel, 1781-1861. person
associatedWith Silliman family. family
associatedWith Silliman family. family
associatedWith Silliman family. family
associatedWith Sohier, Edward Dexter, 1810-1888. person
associatedWith Spear, Charles, 1801-1863. person
associatedWith Speer, Charles. person
associatedWith Spooner, William person
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Torrey, John, 1796-1873. person
associatedWith University of Edinburgh corporateBody
associatedWith Webster, John White, 1793-1850 person
associatedWith William (Gulielmus) Spooner person
associatedWith Yale University corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts--Boston
Massachusetts--Boston
Massachusetts--Boston
Massachusetts--Boston
Massachusetts
Subject
Lawyers
Henry, Joseph, Personality, Etc
Capital punishment
Recommendations For Positions
Scientific publications
Trials (murder)
Mineralogists
Executions and executioners
Depositions
Harvard
Philadelphia
Applied Science, General
Murder
University of Pennsylvania
Chemistry
Mineralogy
Education
Agriculture
Minerals--Collection and preservation
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1793

Death 1850

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