Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Forster, Edward (1730-1812)

FORSTER, EDWARD, the elder (1730–1812), banker and antiquary, the son of Thomas and brother of Benjamin Forster [q. v.], was born 11 Feb. 1730, and was educated at Felstead school. He then went to Holland to his relative Benjamin Furly, from whom he received the original letters of Locke, afterwards published by his grandson. He married Susanna Furney, a member of an old Somerset family, by whom he left three sons, Thomas Furly [q. v.], Benjamin Meggot [q. v.], and Edward (1765–1849) [q. v.], and a daughter Susanna Dorothy (1757–1822), who married the Rev. J. Dixon, rector of Bincombe, Dorsetshire. In 1764 he settled at Walthamstow, where his leisure was employed in riding in search of scenery and antiquities, in sketching, etching, and writing of occasional verses. In 1774 he published the speeches made by him at the bar of the House of Commons on the linen and Russia trades, his only other publication being ‘Occasional Amusements,’ 12mo, 1809, pp. 87, a volume of verse. He was a member of the Mercers' Company, a director of the London Docks, governor of the Royal Exchange, and, for nearly thirty years, of the Russia Company, in which capacity he gave an annual ministerial dinner. When consulted by Pitt as to a forced paper currency he was offered a baronetcy. He died at Hoe Street, Walthamstow, 20 April 1812. Though neither a sportsman nor a practical naturalist, he was very fond of horses and dogs, and was an ardent lover of nature. Addison, Swift, and Rousseau were his favourite authors, and Gray, Gough, and Tyson were among his personal friends. One of his letters (Epistolarium Forsterianum, i. 205–26) contains a reference to Gray's ‘Elegy’ as early as 1751. Edward Forster is stated (Nichols, Anecdotes, viii. 596) to have been the introducer of bearded wheat from Smyrna. His portrait was painted by Shee for the Mercers' Company in 1812, and by Hoppner for the Royal Exchange, the latter having been privately engraved in mezzotint.

[Nichols's Anecdotes, vi. 331–3, 616, viii. 1, 596, ix. 720; Gent. Mag. 1849, xxxii. 431; Epistolarium Forsterianum, 1845, i. 205–26, Bruges, privately printed.]

G. S. B.