FOSTER (FORSTER), John III (by 1511-58), of Bramfield, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1511, 1st s. of Roger Foster of Hunsdon by one Hussey of Suss. m. by 1544, Margery, at least 2s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Escheator, Essex and Herts. 1550-1; clerk and attorney for augmentations in Exchequer by 1549; j.p.q. Herts. 1554.3


When references to the many namesakes of John Foster have been eliminated, there remains a bare list of facts about a minor Hertfordshire gentleman. A chancery case begun during the keepership and continued during the chancellorship of Audley shows that Foster already had interests in Bramfield, albeit as an executor only. At the dissolution of St. Alban’s abbey he held a lease of the abbey grange known as ‘Le Beche’, in the parish of St. Peter’s, near St. Albans. With his wife Margery he sold 16 houses and some land at Bramfield in 1543 or 1544, but the record later is one of acquisition; in 1552 he bought a moiety of Queenhoo manor, in 1556 Mardley or Magdaleynbury manor and in 1557 Bramfield manor, all in Hertfordshire, and at his death he also owned land at Chingford, Essex.4

Although it is not certain that the clerk of the Exchequer, who also served from 1549 to 1554 as the attorney of the court of augmentations there, was the Hertfordshire gentleman, Foster’s parliamentary career suggests that he held a government appointment. The exchequer clerk, who was paid £5 a year, was admitted to the Middle Temple at the instance of two exchequer barons in February 1553—an admission which was probably honorific rather than professional. He presumably owed his return at Shaftesbury, where his name was written on the indenture in a different hand over an erasure, to the tenant of nearby Wardour castle and a former associate in augmentations, Matthew Colthurst: Colthurst was a person of some authority in Dorset and a colleague of William Herbert I 1st Earl of Pembroke, the lord of the borough. Foster probably used the same connexion to obtain his election at Lyme Regis in 1558, but he preferred to enter Mary’s last Parliament as the senior knight for his own shire, so that a writ was issued on 24 Jan. 1558 for a by-election at which Jasper Pounte, another former augmentations official, was chosen.5

Foster may have been Catholic in sympathy; his will has a traditional preamble but since it was made on 5 Nov. 1558 this is not necessarily indicative. He left some of his lands, including Bramfield, for life to his wife, whom he appointed executrix, other lands to his sons Humphrey and Richard, and £100 each to his daughters Frances and Elizabeth. He died on 14 Nov. 1558, just before the end of the second and last session of the Parliament of that year. The wardship of his heir Humphrey, aged 15 at Foster’s death, was granted to the widow in April 1559.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 143; C142/118/64; CPR, 1557-8, p. 9.
  • 3. E403/2449, f. 39v; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 390 and n; CPR, 1553-4, p. 20.
  • 4. E179/120/114 bis, 148; C1/867/4, 1061/56-57; VCH Herts. ii. 416; iii. 168, 483; Herts. Gen. and Antiq. i. 157, 209, 246, 250; CPR, 1555-7, p. 6; 1557-8, p. 9.
  • 5. M.T. Recs. i. 90; C193/32/2, 219/24/57, 25/32, 56.
  • 6. PCC 16 Welles; C142/118/64; CPR, 1558-60, p. 35.