Webster was an architect and geologist, born in Orkney in c.1772 and educated in Aberdeen. He travelled to England and France as a young man before moving to London to work as an architect. He was employed as Clerk of the Works by the Royal Institution to design the lecture theatre in 1799. He based the steeply raked design on the same principle as anatomy lecture theatres, allowing the audience a good view of the speaker and demonstration bench.
He was also a geologist, publishing influential work on key aspects of British geology not known before, including upper secondary and tertiary strata. In 1826 he became Curator of the Geological Society's museum and was Professor of Geology at University College London from 1842 to 1844. He died in London in 1844.
He also later gave the Christmas Lectures series on Geology in 1830.
Papers consist of a bound volume containing the autobiography of Thomas Webster, a copy of the obituary on Webster and various letters including some to Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford.