Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Forster, Benjamin (1736-1805)

FORSTER, BENJAMIN (1736–1805), antiquary, was born in Walbrook, London, 7 Aug. 1736, being the third son of Thomas Forster, a descendant of the Forsters of Etherston and Bamborough, and his wife Dorothy, granddaughter of Benjamin Furly [q. v.], the friend and correspondent of Locke. He was educated at Hertford school and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he had as friends and fellow-students the antiquarians Richard Gough and Michael Tyson. He graduated as B.A. in 1757, becoming M.A. and fellow of his college in 1760, and B.D. 1768. Having taken orders, ‘though he was never very orthodox,’ he became in succession curate of Wanstead and of Broomfield and Chignal Smeely in Essex (1760), Lady Camden lecturer at Wakefield (1766), and rector of Boconnoc, Broadoak, and Cherichayes in Cornwall (1770). He died at Boconnoc parsonage on 2 Dec. 1805, his tomb being, by his orders, merely inscribed ‘Fui.’ He was somewhat eccentric, surrounding himself with multifarious pet animals, to whom he was much attached; but his letters show him to have been a man of taste and learning, and a skilful antiquary. These letters are preserved in Nichols's ‘Literary Anecdotes,’ ix. 648–50, and ‘Literary Illustrations,’ v. 280–90, while many of Gough's letters to him are in a volume privately printed at Bruges (1845–50) by his great-nephew, Thomas Ignatius Maria Forster [q. v.], entitled ‘Epistolarium Forsterianum.’ Among his other friends were the poets Mason and Gray.

[Gent. Mag. 1849, xxxii. 431; Nichols's Illustrations, viii. 554; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub.]

G. S. B.