1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Webster, Alexander
WEBSTER, ALEXANDER (1707-1784), Scottish writer and minister, son of James Webster, a covenanting minister, was born in Edinburgh in 1707. Having become a minister in the church of Scotland, he propounded a scheme in 1742 for providing pensions for the widows of ministers. The tables which he drew up from information obtained from all the presbyteries of Scotland were based on a system of actuarial calculation that supplied a precedent followed by insurance companies in modern times for reckoning averages of longevity. In 1755 the government commissioned Webster to obtain data for the first census of Scotland, which he carried out in the same year. In 1753 he was elected moderator of the General Assembly; in 1771 he was appointed a dean of the Chapel Royal and chaplain to George III. in Scotland; and he died on the 25th of January 1784.
Webster published in 1748 his Calculations, setting forth the principles on which his scheme for widows' pensions was based; he also wrote a defence of the Methodist movement in 1742, and Zeal for the Civil and Religious Interests of Mankind Commended (1754).