Forster, William Edward

Biography: Politician. Born Bradpole, Dorset 1818. Taught at home, at Quaker proprietary schools in Fishponds, Bristol and Grove House, Tottenham, and private tutor in Norwich. Business apprenticeship in textiles and banking in Bradford 1840, became a partner 1842. Travelled to Ireland 1846 to view famine conditions, published an account of his impressions, supported public works for relief and state-aided emigration, returned 1849. Visited Paris 1848. Published Pauperism and its Proposed Remedies 1848. Elected to board of guardians of Bradford 1849. Business moved to Wharfedale 1852. Entered parliament as MP for Bradford 1861, returned unopposed 1865, returned 1874. Under-secretary for the colonies 1865-6. Increasingly interested in education 1864-70 - Endowed Schools Act 1869, Elementary Education Act 1870. Privy Councillor 1868. Opposition front bench 1875-1880. Chief secretary for Ireland 1880, resigned May 1882. Vice-president of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Considered a model employer - established mill school 1854, local board of health 1859, introduced profit sharing with senior employees. Critical of laissez-faire policies of govt., advocated state-aided emigration, public works,education provision, farms and workshops. Favoured non-intervention in the American Civil War and in European affairs. Died Apr 1866.

Biography Date: 1818-1886

Biography References: LOC; CERL; DNB


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