Noah Webster, Jr

Noah Webster, Jr

West Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA
Death 28 May 1843 (aged 84)
New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
Burial New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
Plot Cedar Avenue East, Lot 24
Memorial ID 1084 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Lexicographer. Through his work the American and British versions of the English language became separate, unique languages. Born in Hartford, Connecticut to a colonial farm family of five children, he was a descendant of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony. He began attending Yale College at age 16, then the only college in the British colony of Connecticut, graduating in 1778, after a short break to serve in the American Army during the Revolution. Unable to afford law school, he became a schoolteacher in Hartford, continuing his law studies part time. He eventually earned his law degree in 1781, and was admitted to the bar the same year. Dissatisfied with the school textbooks then in use, which were imported from Britain, Webster decided to write his own three-volume American book, consisting of a speller, a grammar and a reader. For the next one hundred years, it would become the most popular American schoolbook of its time, selling more than one million copies every year. Proudly American and anti-British, he chose to ignore the common British pronunciation and spellings in favor of his native New England pronunciations and spellings. As a result, after American independence, Americans learned to speak and write differently from their British cousins despite a common origin. In 1789, Webster married Rebecca Greenleaf, and they would have eight children. In 1793, the Webster family moved to New York to be closer to the President and the country’s new administration (initially, New York was the capital of the new United States). There Webster started New York’s first daily newspaper, the American Minerva, and later, a weekly publication, The Herald. In 1798, he sold his interests and moved back to New Haven. In 1807, he began to write an expanded dictionary, “An American Dictionary of the English Language,” which would reform the language again, drawing it closer to his New England roots and making it a unique American language. The dictionary was published in 1828, and was an instant best seller. The book was also unique in that it contained a large number of Biblical definitions, more than any previously published reference, because Webster believed that the Bible and Christianity should play an important role in the lives of a free people and its government. A second edition of the dictionary was published in 1840, and a few days after Webster had finished revising the appendix to the second edition, he died. Webster’s influence, through his dictionary, has continued to this day.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

Family Members




How famous was Noah Webster, Jr?

Current rating:

171 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1084
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Noah Webster, Jr (16 Oct 1758–28 May 1843), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1084, citing Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .