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Matthew Webb

Matthew WebbBorn: 18-Jan-1848
Birthplace: Dawley, Shropshire, England
Died: 24-Jul-1883
Location of death: Niagara Falls
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Oakwood Cemetery, Niagara Falls, NY

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Swimmer

Nationality: England
Executive summary: First to swim the English Channel

English swimmer, generally known as "Captain Webb", was born at Dawley in Shropshire on the 18th of January 1848, the son of a doctor. While still a boy he saved one of his brothers from drowning in the Severn, and, while serving on board the training ship in the Mersey, he again distinguished himself by saving a drowning comrade. He served his apprenticeship in the East India and China trade, shipped as second mate for several owners, and in 1874, was awarded the first Stanhope gold medal by the Royal Humane Society for an attempt to save a seaman who had fallen overboard from the Cunard steamship "Russia." In 1875 Captain Webb abandoned a sea-faring life and became a professional swimmer. On the 3rd of July he swam from Blackwall Pier to Gravesend, a distance of 20 miles, in 4 hours and 45 minutes, a record which remained unbeaten until 1899. In the same year, after one unsuccessful attempt, he swam the English Channel, on the 24th of August, from Dover to Calais in 21 hours 45 minutes. For the next few years Webb gave performances of diving and swimming at the Royal Aquarium in London and elsewhere. Crossing to America, he attempted, on the 24th of July 1883, to swim the rapids and whirlpool below Niagara Falls. In this attempt he lost his life.

Brother: Thomas Webb
Wife: Madeline Kate Chaddock (m. 27-Apr-1880, one son, one daughter)
Son: Matthew
Daughter: Helen

    British East India Company

Author of books:
The Art of Swimming (1876)

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