FORESTER, Brooke (1717-71), of Dothill Park and Willey Park, Salop
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 7 Feb. 1717, 1st s. of William Forester, and bro. of Cecil Forester. m. (1) 4 May 1734, Elizabeth (d. Mar. 1753), da. and h. of George Weld of Willey Park, Wenlock, 4s.; (2) 1760, Elizabeth, da. of Robert Barnstone of Chester, 1da. suc. fa. 12 Nov. 1758. Resided at Willey Park 1734-59, at Dothill 1759-d.
Brooke Forester supported the Walpole Administration, and became one of the old corps of Whigs. Like his father, he followed Lord Powis, and was counted by Newcastle among his surest supporters. When asking the Duke, 15 Mar. 1759, that his brother Cecil be made aide-de-camp to the King, he could write: ‘the long steady attachment my family has always showed, and the few favours we have solicited ...’ And in Bute’s list of the House, December 1761, the remark is placed against his name: ‘By Whiggism attached to Lord Powis as head of that party in Shropshire, but soliciting very few favours of Government.’ Forester adhered to Newcastle even after Powis’s defection, and on 9 Dec. voted against the peace preliminaries; he did not vote on the 10th. He voted steadily with the Opposition over Wilkes and general warrants, but did not join Wildman’s Club. On 10 May 1764 he was listed as a ‘sure friend’ by Newcastle, who on 21 Mar. 1765 wrote from Bath to George Onslow, Member for Surrey:1
I have ... had a great deal of discourse with the two Foresters: the Stag [Brooke Forester2] and his brother the Colonel. I believe neither of them will come up. The Stag is very zealous, as he always was, and ever will be; I think he has still some correspondence with his old friend, my Lord Powis; though he resents extremely the part he takes; and has a good deal of partiality for my Lord Granby. But, when he came to the point, he said (what all the world say, except a very, very narrow clique) ‘that we have no Head; nobody to lead them, etc.’ ... In short I see we shall have no assistance from the very best set of men I ever knew in Parliament, what we used to call the Shropshire Gang.
A rather different light is thrown on Forester’s doubts and complaints by two letters.3 On 29 Jan. 1765 Powis ‘with great pleasure’ informed George Grenville that Forester and his brother would stay away that day from the House (where general warrants were discussed once more); and on 27 Feb. Forester wrote to Lord Gower:
When your Lordship honoured me with a letter the beginning of last sessions, wherein you mentioned your desire of my supporting the present Administration, I at that time thought myself under the strictest obligations to the Duke of Devonshire, who I had always been connected with for upwards of five and twenty years. But since his death, I think myself now as free from all political connexions both private and public, as if I came but yesterday into Parliament, exclusive of the principles I ever have, and ever will support, as a Whig. Now, my Lord, as I have a favour to ask of the Government and there is no person I would so soon choose to be obliged to as your Lordship, hope you’ll excuse the liberty I take in begging your assistance in behalf of my youngest son.
His son was a major on half-pay, and Forester asked to have him put again on full pay. This was done, but by then the Grenvilles were out of office—before Forester had time to attach himself to them; and in Rockingham’s list of July 1765 he is listed ‘pro’; in November 1766 as ‘Whig’; by Townshend in January 1767 as ‘doubtful’; and by Newcastle, on 2 Mar., as a ‘friend’. No vote of his is recorded during those years; and no speech during nearly 30 years in the House. He retired at the general election of 1768, and died 8 July 1771.