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Biography of Harrison Holmes Webb

Harrison Holmes Webb, an adopted son of Maryland, born in Pennsylvania, is worthy of special mention in connection with the "Men of Maryland." He seems to have made his advent into Maryland, either late in the thirties, or early in the forties. He was a man of education, and in the diligent use of what he had, attained a distinguished standing among the men of his day.

In 1843, he was confirmed in St. James First African Church, and soon thereafter, licensed as a Lay Reader. He became a lay assistant to the Rev. Mr. McJilton (white), rector of the Church and teacher of the day school. In 1846, with others, he took the chief part in founding St. James Male Beneficial Society. Many of the older Marylanders, still alive, received their education in his school.

In 1851, he was ordained by Bishop Whittingham to the ministry of the Episcopal Church. A few years later, he was advanced to the Priesthood in the same church, and, upon the retirement of the rector, the Rev. Mr. Webb, was elected his successor. Mr. Webb continued his school as well as the rectorship of St. James' Church, until 1872, when, on account of increasing infirmities he resigned. For a number of years, following the close of the Civil War, he was one of the executive officers of the local Freedman's Bank.

A few years before his resignation of the rectorship of St. James Church, some forty of the younger people connected with that congregation, withdrew and organized a mission, in the newer section of the city, known as St. Philip's. This Mission finally became the nucleus of the present Mt. Calvary Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. Living in the section of the city where the Mission was located, he often attended, and, sometimes, officiated. Mrs. Webb, the wife of the Rev. Mr. Webb, was greatly beloved by a member of a white family with whom she had lived. And because of this influence the mission through the generosity of Mrs. Webb's former mistress, became possessed with the money to erect its beautiful church on Orchard Street. The memory of this sweet influence is perpetuated in the interior of the beautiful chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. The three marble steps leading up to the Altar, are inscribed to the glory of God, and in memory of Rebecca Webb; while, one of the two imposing granite columns, supporting the Sanctuary arch, is likewise in-scribed, to the glory of God, and in memory of Harrison H. Webb, Priest.

Writing of his decease, Bishop Whittingham said: Deprived of advantages of a liberal education in his youth, he had laboriously qualified himself in riper years, for admission to the holy ministry, which he received and exercised, with the exception of a few months service in Pennsylvania, for more than twenty years in St. James' African Church in this city. He was never at any period of his ministry independent of his own labor in a secular calling for support, but faithfully and patiently strove, in spite of many difficulties and hindrances, to fulfill his ministry in which to the very last he took supreme delight. This testimony I deem to be justly due to one whose name ought to be honored as that of a steadfast servant of our Blessed Master for the work sake only."

He departed this life, in Baltimore, on the 12th of December, 1878.

 Maryland Biographies | Maryland AHGP

Source: Gazetteer of Maryland, by Henry Gannett, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1904.


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