WEBSTER, WILLIAM BENNETT, doctor, geologist, and politican; b. 18 Jan. 1798 at Kentville, N.S., eldest of three sons of Dr Isaac Webster and Prudence Bentley; m. on 11 Sept. 1826 Wilhelmina Moore, and they had four children; d. 4 April 1861 at Halifax, N.S.
After early schooling in the Cornwallis area, William Bennett Webster went to Scotland, where he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. After graduation he travelled widely on the Continent and visited several clinics. About 1822 he returned to Nova Scotia to settle in Kentville. He followed his father in his profession, his Presbyterianism, and his inventiveness. He inherited considerable property and in his turn acquired more. In 1855 he was elected to the assembly for King’s County and held the post until 1859 when the constituency was divided. He was then elected to represent Kings County, Southern Division, a seat he held until his death.
Webster was an energetic man of wide interests. He was considered by his fellow doctors to be highly capable and in 1836 he performed the first successful operation in the province for the removal of a cataract. He was active as a founder of the Nova Scotia Medical Society in 1854, and in 1858, as a member of the legislature, he helped draft a bill to legalize dissection. But he found time to indulge in many hobbies, one of which brought him as wide a reputation as did his profession. An amateur geologist, he studied the minerals of the Blomidon area in company with Abraham Gesner, his brother-in-law, and formed an outstanding geological collection which was eventually presented by his widow to the Provincial Museum. He discovered an interesting fossil which was named Dictyonema Websteri in his honour. He was also remembered as a man who invented “mechanical contrivances.” An interest in town planning prompted him to lay out the main streets of Kentville, which a century later remain as he drew them.
Novascotian, 8 April 1861. Directory of N.S. MLAs, 358–59. David Allison, History of Nova Scotia (3v., Halifax, 1916), III, 581. A. W. H. Eaton, The history of Kings County, Nova Scotia . . . (Salem, Mass., 1910), 125, 510, 528–29, 857–60. K. A. MacKenzie, “Doctor Isaac Webster, 1766–1851,” and “Founders of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia,” in Nova Scotia Medical Bull. (Halifax), XXXIII (1954), 216, and XXXII (1953), 240, respectively. Harry Piers, “A brief historical account of the Nova Scotian Institute of Science, and the events leading up to its formation; with biographical sketches of its deceased presidents and other prominent members,” N.S. Institute of Science, Proc. and Trans. (Halifax), XIII (1910–14), lvi-lvii.