The Rt. Rev. William Walter Webb, D.D., L.L.D.
Coadjutor Bishop, 1906
Sixth Bishop of Milwaukee, 1906-1933
A History of the Diocese of Milwaukee, by Harold Ezra Wagner
Diocese of Milwaukee, 1947.
William Walter Webb was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania November 20, 1857, the son of William Hewitt and Esther (Odin) Webb. His great-great grandfather, the Rev. William Walter Webb, had been chaplain of Harvard and the first rector of Trinity Church, Boston, the church which Phillips Brooks made famous. His maternal grandfather, the Rev. Benjamin Dorr was rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia for fifty years and had been elected Bishop of Maryland, but had declined the office. His father was Vice-president of the Reading Railroad at the time of his death.
William Walter Webb received his education at the Protestant Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia, and entered the University of Pennsylvania as a member of the class of 1879, but left it in his junior year to enter Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, where he graduated with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in 1882. In 1885 he obtained his Master of Arts degree. In the meantime he had entered Berkeley Divinity School where he was graduated in 1885 and in that same year was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Niles of New Hampshire. On November 10, 1886 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Williams of Connecticut and became the assistant to the Rev. Dr. Henry P. Percival, rector of the Church of the Evangelist, Philadelphia. In 1889 he became rector of St. Elizabeth's Church, Philadelphia, where he stayed until he was elected Professor of Dogmatic Theology of Nashotah House in 1892. In 1897 he was elected to its presidency. During these years he served as president of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Milwaukee, and was a delegate from it to the General Convention of 1898, the one which made the first revision of the American Prayer Book.
When Bishop Nicholson requested the election of a coadjutor, Dean Webb of Nashotah was elected at the special Council, November 21, 1905. His consecration took place in All Saints Cathedral, Milwaukee on February 24, 1906, the second bishop of the diocese to be consecrated in its cathedral church. Bishop Webb became the diocesan upon Bishop Nicholson's death on October 29, 1906.
Bishop Webb continued the policies of churchmanship for which his predecessor had become noted, and Milwaukee continued to present a solid front favoring the highest conceptions of the Catholic heritage of the Episcopal Church. He was a man of marked administrative abilities, and was also a strong and eloquent preacher. His own life was of deepest spiritual tone and his little book issued in 1910 "The Cure of Souls" is still considered the standard text on the subject of Penance and its related fields of pastoral work.
In 1925 failing health and his consequent inability to travel about his diocese resulted in his asking for a coadjutor. A meeting of the Diocesan Council was accordingly called and the Rev. Benjamin Franklin Price Ivins, Dean of Nashotah House, was elected and consecrated in All Saints Cathedral on May 7, 1925 with Bishop Webb as Consecrator. Webb continued to maintain his vigorous administration of diocesan affairs leaving, however, the bulk of the travel about the huge diocese--it covered two thirds of the state--to his assistant. He died on January 15, 1933 and is buried in Germantown, Pa. His large and valuable library he left to Nashotah House. His episcopate is the longest in the history of the diocese to date, covering some twenty-seven years.
Nashotah House awarded him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1897 and that of Doctor of Laws in 1925.