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Wentworth Webster [we.2.4]

Wentworth Webster was the fourth child of Charles Webster & Elizabeth Wentworth, born June 16th, 1828 at Uxbridge & christened August 8th, 1828 at St Margaret's, Uxbridge, Middlesex.

Wentworth was obviously a great favourite of his grandfather, Philip Wentworth, who died in 1838.  Wentworth benefited greatly from grandfather’s will, both financially & by receipt of all of Philip’s printed books (see Charles Webster’s page for details [we.2]).

Wentworth attended a private school at Brighton & went up to Lincoln College, Oxford at the age of 21.

At the time of the 1851 census Wentworth was at home with his parents, brother & sister at High St, Uxbridge, Middlesex. His occupation was scholar at Lincoln College, Oxford. Wentworth obtained an MA degree from Oxford in 1852. In 1854 he became a deacon at Cloford, Somerset. His ordination into the Anglican priesthood was delayed until 1861 due to ill health. Wentworth travelled widely around the world before settling in south western France in the early 1860s. He began as a teacher in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, where he met his future wife.

Wentworth married Thekla Laura Knipping on October 17th, 1866, at the Parish Church of St Giles Camberwell, Southwark, Surrey.   Wentworth was a Clerk in Holy Orders living at Hillingdon, Middlesex & Thekla was of Champion Hill.  Thekla was born c1837 in Germany, the daughter of Johann Peter Knipping, a schoolmaster of Cleves, Prussia.

Wentworth settled in Basque country, France around 1870. He was chaplain at Biarritz and later St. Jean de Luz from 1869-1882. During these years Wentworth & Thekla had 4 daughters & a son, Erwin Wentworth, who all spoke fluent Basque. Wentworth himself was an expert on life and legends of the Basque people. He wrote "Les Loisirs d'un Elvanger au Pays Basque", 1901 and "Basque Legends", 1877. He later lived at Sare, after his retirement in 1882.

Wentworth Webster


Daughter Thekla studied music, in particular singing, at the Madrid Royal Conservatory, a music college in Madrid. It appears after her certification she lived in Hampshire in England between 1895-1898 and taught singing as well as performing on occasion around England and Ireland.  The 1891 census shows daughter Thekla visiting Frederick & Alexandrina Onslow in East Molesey.  She was living on independent means. At the age of 19, in 1887, Thekla contributed an 8 page article titled '"Basque Cookery" in the women's magazine called 'The Queen'. It is considered significant as it is one of the 1st written recordings of Basque gastronomy.

In 1894 Wentworth received a grant of £150 conferred on him by Mr William Gladstone for his work on the Basque language, habits & customs.  (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, February 7th, 1894)

Daughter Antonia became a nurse and was working in England in the 1890's.  She travelled to South Africa to work as a nursing sister during the Boer War and died of enteric fever at Kroonstad, South Africa in 1901. The British established a concentration camp at Kroonstad for Boer civilians in 1900 and during 1901 many died through sickness.

There is a marriage for Thekla Webster, aged 36, marrying Robert Walls, aged 32, at St Mary the Virgin, Johannesburg, Pretoria, S. Africa on April 6th, 1904. Robert was a Scottish migrant & farmer who died in 1912.  After the death of her husband in 1912, Thekla travelled back to London in May, 1916, aged 48 and was listed as a typist on the shipping report. She next pops up in New Zealand, embarking on a ship at Dunedin in 1920 and disembarking in October, 1920 at Melbourne, Australia. On the shipping report she was listed as 52 years old and a French citizen. She returned to live in South Africa where she lived at Bellair, Durban. She died on the 13/07/1935 at the Cato Road Nursing Home, Durban, aged 67. 

Daughter Mildred was the only child of Wentworth's to remain living at St Jean-de-Luz and came to be in possession of most of her father's notes and writings, giving permission for various academics to consult his work. Mildred did not marry and died a spinster.

Wentworth died on April 2nd, 1907 at Maison Crespo, Sare, Basses Pyrenees, France. From the Times Obituary we learn ".. he lived in the little Basque Village of Sare in the Lower Pyrenees, His house overlooking the beautiful valley of Larrhun was well known to all those interested in the Basques and in Spain. It was here that Mr. Gladstone visited him." Apparently Prime Minister William Gladstone also paid Wentworth a pension. In recent years the Basque government has printed the Bidegileak Collection which includes a volume on 4 foreign figures who were united by their love for & work in favour of Basque language & culture. One of these was Wentworth Webster.

Wentworth’s will was proved on July 13th, 1907 by trustees brother Alfred Webster (gentleman),  son Erwin Webster (fellow of Wadham College Oxford) & nephew George Charles WebsterWoodbridge (banker’s clerk).  To his wife, Laura, he left all his household goods with the exception of his books which were to be sold.  The remainder of his personal estate was left in trust to pay the income to his wife for life, & then the capital was to be divided equally between his children.  His effects amounted to £9,736.9s.4d.

In 1911 widowed Thekla (74) was living at 8 Coronation Rd, Cheltenham, Goucestershire with her daughter Stella Ruth Webster, aged 39.  Thekla was living on private mean & Stella was a school teacher at Ladies’ College, Cheltenham.  The census revealed that Thekla was a German resident having been born there & that Stella was born in France but was a British subject. Stella had studied at the University of London graduating with a Masters of Arts in French and German in 1904.

Thekla died on January 28th, 1914, aged 76, at Lindfield, Coronation Rd, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.  Probate was granted on April 4th, 1914 to son Erwin & her effects were £497.2s.10d.

Tragically son Erwin was killed during WW1 & the address given on his medal card in 1917 was for his sister Stella at 79 Iffley Rd, Oxford. Erwin was of Wadham College, Oxford & Captain of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps on his death.  He is commemorated at Monchy-le-Preux, Arras, Pas-de-Calais, France.

Daughter Stella never married & in 1939 she was living on her own at 41 Leckford Rd, Oxford  where she died in 1940 leaving an estate worth almost £14,000.

The children of Wentworth Webster & Thekla Laura Knipping were:

we.2.4.1 Thekla Caroline Webster born March 10th, 1868 at Biarritz, France; died July 13th, 1935 at the Cato Road Nursing Home, Durban

we.2.4.2 Antonia Matilda Webster born July 10th, 1869 at St Jean-de-Luz, France; died June 3rd, 1901 at Kroonstad, South Africa

we.2.4.3 Stella Ruth Webster born July 31st, 1871 in France; died January 21st, 1940 at 41 Leckford Rd, Oxford

we.2.4.4. Unnamed Webster (male), still born on August 28th, 1875 at St Jean-de-Luz, France

we.2.4.5 Mildred Grace Webster born May 25th, 1877 at St Jean-de-Luz, France; died July 29th, 1945 at St Jean-de-Luz.

we.2.4.6 Erwin Wentworth Webster born January 9th, 1880 in France; died April 9th, 1917 at Arras, France

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