Webster 1913 Edition
the twenty-third letter of the English alphabet, is usually a consonant, but sometimes it is a vowel, forming the second element of certain diphthongs, as in few, how. It takes its written form and its name from the repetition of a V, this being the original form of the Roman capital letter which we call U. Etymologically it is most related to v and u. See V, and U. Some of the uneducated classes in England, especially in London, confuse w and v, substituting the one for the other, as weal for veal, and veal for weal; wine for vine, and vine for wine, etc. See Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 266-268.
Webster 1828 Edition
Wis the twenty third letter of the English Alphabet. It takes its written form and its name from the union of two Vs, this being the form of the Roman capital letter which we call U. The name, double u, being given to it from its form or composition, and not from its sound, especially the vowels. W is properly a vowel, a simple sound, formed by opening the mouth with a close circular configuration of the lips. it is precisely the ou of the French, and the u of the Spaniards, Italians and Germans. With the oter vowels it forms diphthongs, which are of easy pronunciation; as in well, want, will, dwell; pronouced ooell, ooant, ooill, dooell. In English, it is always followed by another vowel, except when followed by h, as is when; but this case is an exception only in writing, and not in pronunciation, for h precedes w in utterance; when being pronounced hooen. In Welsh, w, which is sounded as in English is used without another vowel, as in fwl, a fool; dwn, dun; dwb, mortar; gwn, a gun, and a gown.
It is not improbable that the Romans pronouced v as we do w, for their volvo is our wallow; and volo, velle, is the English will, G. wollen. But this is uncertain.The German v has the sound of the English f, and w that of the English v.
W, at the end of words is often silent after a and o, as in law, saw, low,