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Other times by appointment


The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


The Webb Family Papers

RG 2-1B1

Scope and Contents - Organization - Access - Container List


The Webb Family Collection contains documents from the early records of the Borough of Norfolk, the Gosport Navy Yard, the Webb family, nineteenth-century commercial ventures, and the Electricity Cost Commission. The documents were saved from destruction during the Civil War by Lewis Warrington Webb. He and his descendants contributed to and preserved the documents.

Lewis Warrington Webb was born on September 26, 1826. He was in the drug business before the Civil War. Webb was Collector of the Port of Norfolk when the war began. He maintained an office in the custom house. In April of 1861, war between the North and the South appeared to be imminent. The federal authorities realized that the Navy Yard could not be successfully defended. They ordered the evacuation and destruction of the ships, stores, equipment and records. Lewis Webb gathered many of the documents stored in the customs house and placed them in a trunk. The documents included late eighteenth and nineteenth century records of the Borough of Norfolk and records of the Gosport Navy Yard. Webb contributed documents to the collection until 1870.

After the Civil War, Webb served as a member of the military council, Auditor of Public Accounts, member of the Board of Police Commissioners, a member of the State Legislature and as the Deputy Collector of Customs in Norfolk. He supported the Republican party and was involved in state and national politics. Lewis Webb died on February 2, 1883.

The documents were passed down through the Webb family and stored in the different homes the family occupied. Dr. Lewis Warrington Webb, Jr., the grandson of Lewis Warrington Webb, served on the Electricity Cost Commission in 1975. He contributed his commission records to the collection. Dr. Webb loaned the documents to the Norfolk Historical Society for analysis. He donated the collection to the University on December 3, 1976.

The records of the Borough of Norfolk primarily involve the Common Council. The legislative power of the borough was vested in the Common Council. The Council was composed of sixteen members. The members could elect one of their number to be president. The committees were an important part of the government. The majority of laws were drafted by the committees at the direction of the Council. The Council had the right to collect taxes and to appropriate funds for construction and improvement of public buildings. The Council levied a tax on goods sold in the public market.

The records of the Navy Yard involve the years from 1829 to 1870. The primary documents in this section of the collection are the records of the Navy agents. The duties of the agents were directed by the Navy Commission Office in Washington. The Commission was an administrative body charged with the administration of naval material. The agents directed their requisition requests and submitted monthly expenditures to the Navy Commission Office.

The Navy agents worked on a commission basis. They were involved in securing supplies for the Navy and in the purchase of material for the con-struction and repair of ships and buildings at the yard. The agents acted as a liaison between the Navy and the civilian contractors. They placed advertisements in the Norfolk newspapers describing the Navy's specifications for materials and supplies. The agents inspected the quality of merchandise delivered to the yard. They paid the contractors for acceptable items. The agents supervised auctions of condemned government property.

Naval officers and seamen requested the agents to pay their dependents a monthly portion of their pay while they were away from home. The agents selected the modes of transportation and provided a travel allowance for men in transit.

The Navy agents received their funds from the Fourth Auditor's Office, United States Treasury Department. They submitted accounts and vouchers to the Fourth Auditor's Office each quarter.

The agents were generally prominent men. George Loyall was born in Norfolk on May 29, 1789. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1808. Loyall was a member of the House of Delegates from the Borough of Norfolk, 1817-1827. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1829. George Loyall was a member of Congress, 1831-1837. He was Navy agent of Norfolk from 1837-1861. Loyall resigned his position on April 17, 1861 because of his southern sympathies. His first wife Rebecca Tyler died in 1812 and his second wife Margaret Kelly died in 1855. George Loyall died on February 24, 1868. He is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Norfolk.

Francis Mallory was born in 1805. He was appointed a midshipman in the Navy in 1822. He resigned from the service in 1826. Mallory practiced medicine in Norfolk for several years. He served in Congress from 1837 to 1843. Mallory was the first president of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad. He was appointed Navy Agent in 1850. Mallory's first wife Mary Shield died. He later married Mary Wright. Francis Mallory died in Norfolk on March 26, 1860.

Many of the letters sent to the Navy agents involved Commodore Lewis Warrington. He was born at Williamsburg, Virginia on November 3, 1782. He attended the College of William and Mary. Warrington was appointed midshipman in the Navy on January 6, 1800. He fought in the war with the Barbary pirates. Warrington performed distinguished service during the War of 1812. He was promoted to master commandant in 1813. Warrington was given the command of the USS Peacock. He engaged and defeated the British brig Epervier off Cape Canaveral on April 29, 1814. Warrington captured the cruiser Nautilus on June 30, 1815. He was a member of the Navy commission from 1826 to 1830 and again from 1840 to 1842. Warrington commanded at the Gosport Navy Yard from June, 1821 to December 1824 and again from May, 1831 to October, 1840. He was appointed Secretary of the Navy in 1844. Warrington was married to Margaret King. He died on October 12, 1851.

The Navy Yard was evacuated and burned by the Confederate Navy on May 10, 1862. The Union forces reoccupied the Navy Yard. The federal government designated the installation the United States Navy Yard. Commodore John Livingston was given the command of the Navy Yard. He was born on May 22, 1804. Livingston was Executive Officer of the USS Congress during the Mexican War. Early in the Civil War he commanded the USS Penquin, and later the USS Bienville, operating in the blockade of Wilmington and Hampton Roads. He was transferred to command the USS Cumberland. Livingston became ill and was forced to leave the vessel before it was sunk by the CSS Virginia. He assumed command of the Navy Yard on May 20, 1862. In November, 1864 he was transferred to command the Naval Station at Mound City, Illinois. He died in New York City on September 10, 1885.

The collection contains documents of several nineteenth-century merchants. William T. Fleet was one of the most successful businessmen operating in Norfolk. He was a grocer and commission merchant. Fleet was primarily a dealer in grain, flour and meal

Dr. Lewis Warrington Webb was born in Norfolk on March 1, 1910. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1931 and his Master of Science degree in 1932. He became a licensed professional engineer in 1955. Webb completed post-graduate studies at the College of William and Mary, the United States Military Academy, and the University of North Carolina. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Hampden-Sydney College in 1967.

Webb entered the education field in 1932 as an instructor of physics and mathematics at the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary. He was granted tenure in 1938. Webb was appointed Assistant Director of the college in 1942, received full professorship in 1944, and served as Director of the Defense and War Training Program from 1940 to 1944. He was appointed Director of the college in 1946 and held this position with the title being changed to Provost and in 1960 to President. When the school separated from William and Mary in 1962, Webb became the first president of the newly named Old Dominion College. He retained this position until his resignation in 1969. Dr. Webb's papers as President of O.D.U are also housed in Special Collections.

Dr. Webb returned to teaching, serving as Chairman of the Department of Physics and Geophysical Sciences from 1973-1974. He has received many civic and educational awards. The title of President Emeritus was awarded to him upon his retirement in 1974. He was appointed by Governor Mills Godwin Jr. to serve on the Electricity Cost Commission in 1975.

The Webb family includes his wife, the former Virginia F. Rice, and two children, Dr. George Randolph Webb and Mrs. Robert Ashe.

The governor established the Electricity Cost Commission on March 31, 1975. The Commission was organized in response to consumer concern about the high cost of electricity and the efficiency of the management of the power companies. The governor instructed the Commission to analyze the reasons for high electrical rates, the energy situation in Virginia and in other states, alternative sources of energy, and the projections of the power companies for future demand for energy. The Commission was instructed to publish its findings.

The Commission was composed of twenty-one members. They were divided into four committees. Each of the committees was assigned to analyze a specific problem. Dr. Webb was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Utility Management. The Commission held meetings each month in Richmond. Public hearings were held to allow people to express their views.

The Commission gathered information from diverse sources. They hired twelve consultants to conduct fourteen independent studies. The Commission utilized testimony from energy experts and federal agencies. Consumer groups, state officials, federal officials, and concerned individuals submitted testimony to the Commission. They examined company reports and annual reports of the electrical utility companies, energy newsletters and newspaper articles.

Scope and Contents

The Webb Family Papers contain documents ranging from 1790-1975. The first series contains records of the Borough of Norfolk from 1790-1823. The documents include records of the Common Council, committee reports to the Council, payments for work performed for the Borough, applications of candidates for public office, Borough ordinances, apprentices' indentures, inquisitions and return of sales from the Public Market.

The second series contains records of the Gosport Navy Yard from 1829 to 1870. The papers contain the Navy agents' correspondence from contractors, seamen, the Navy Commission Office and the Fourth Auditor's Office. This series contains the correspondence of Captain Lewis Warrington and Commodore John Livingston. One of the most significant documents in the collection is the contract to raise the CSS Virginia from the Elizabeth River in 1870.

The third series consists of documents and photographs of the Webb family, including some of Lewis Warrington Webb's personal papers.

The fourth series ranges from 1809 to 1894 and contains miscellaneous business papers, genealogies of Bailey Gray and Elizeabeth Miles and issues of Van Nostrand's Eclectic Engineering Magazine from 1871.

The fifth series consists of Dr. Lewis Warrington Webb's records of the Electricity Cost Commission in 1975. They include information concerning the organization of the Commission minutes of the meetings, committees, public hearings, testimony, electrical utility companies, information utilized by the members of the Commission and the final report.

Some of the documents in this collection are photocopies of the originals.


The Webb Family Papers are divided into five series. The series are further divided into sub series.

Series I: Records of the Borough of Norfolk, 1790-1823

Series II: United States Navy, Gosport Navy Yard
Subseries A: Nash Legrand, Navy Agent
Subseries B: George Loyall, Navy Agent
Subseries C: Richard Astewood, Navy Agent
Subseries D: Francis Mallory, Navy Agent
Subseries E: Navy Agent's Office
Subseries F: Gosport Navy Yard
Subseries G: Commodore John W. Livingston, Commandant, United States Navy Yard
Subseries H: United States Navy Yard
Subseries I: United States Naval Hospital

Series III: The Webb Family
Subseries A: Miscellaneous
Subseries B: Lewis Warrington Webb
Subseries C: Photographs

Series IV: Business Papers; Genealogies; Magazines
Subseries A: Business Papers
Subseries B: Genealogies
Subseries C: Magazines

Series V: The Electricity Cost Commission
Subseries A: Organization of the ECC
Subseries B: Dr. Lewis W. Webb, Chairman of the Committee on Utility; Dr. Ronald Carrier, Chairman of the ECC
Subseries C: ECC Minutes
Subseries D: ECC Committees
Subseries E: ECC - Public Hearings
Subseries F: Statements; Testimony; Resolutions; Position Papers Submitted to the ECC
Subseries G: Information Utilized by the ECC
Subseries H: VEPCO
Subseries I: Electrical Utility Companies
Subseries J: Power Companies' Annual Reports
Subseries K: Newspaper Articles; Editorials
Subseries L: Newsletters
Subseries M: Final Report


Gift of Dr. Lewis W. Webb, December 1976


The collection is open to researchers without restriction. Questions about literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


11 Hollinger document cases, 4.5 linear feet

Revised: 7/11/08