FOSTER, John (1740-1828), of Collon, co. Louth.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1801 - 17 July 1821

Family and Education

bap. 28 Sept. 1740, 1st s. of Anthony Foster, MP [I], of Collon, chief baron of Exchequer [I], by 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of William Burgh, MP [I], of Dublin. educ. by Rev. Richard Norris, Drogheda; Trinity, Dublin 1757; M. Temple 1759, called [I] 1766; bencher, King’s Inn, Dublin 1784. m. 14 Dec. 1764, Margaretta, da. of Thomas Burgh, MP [I], of Bert, co. Kildare (she was cr. Baroness Oriel [I] 5 June 1790 and Viscountess Ferrard [I] 22 Nov. 1797), 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 1da. surv. suc. fa 1779. cr. Baron Oriel [UK] 17 July 1821.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1761-1800.

Chairman of ways and means [I] 1777-84; customer of Dublin 1779-84; PC [I] 9 July 1779, [GB] 6 Sept. 1786; chancellor of exchequer [I] Apr. 1784-5, July 1804-6, May 1807-11; Speaker of House of Commons [I] 5 Sept. 1785-1800; member of Board of Trade 1785-1800, Feb. 1802; first commr. of treasury [I] Aug. 1804-6, second commr. May 1807-13, [UK] Sept. 1807-Jan. 1812; commr. of public recs. [I] Aug. 1810.

Trustee, linen board [I] 1784; vice-pres. board of agriculture 1803.

Custos rot. co. Louth 1798-1801, gov. 1798-d.

Capt. Collon inf. 1796.


It was John Foster who as last Speaker of the Irish house of commons wound it up on 2 Aug. 1800, retaining the mace for future contingencies. He was thought to be ‘the ablest supporter’ of the Irish government, ‘the best informed man in the house’ and ‘well acquainted with the whole mystery of debate’, in which his ‘articulate’ if ‘grating’ voice proclaimed its mastery. It appeared that no price could compensate Foster for the loss of consequence the Irish union entailed for him; he had no English connexions, apart from his friendship with Lord Sheffield, and, as the champion of the Irish corn and linen trades and the monitor of Irish economic improvement to counter the threat to the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, he was Pitt’s most dangerous and virulent Irish opponent in the promotion of that measure, though his stand was not inconsistent with his former views. Canning wrote, 4 Feb. 1799, ‘if Foster has courage to join the Catholics—the game is up. But I rely on the strength of his prejudices and pledges upon this point.’ He was right: Foster was an ultra-Protestant and his ‘impracticability’ on this point was stronger than his political ‘versatility’ which tempted him to ally with the Irish Whigs and their Catholic supporters. He was, as Grattan put it, ‘a bigot in politics’ and in 1800 his distinguished career appeared to be blighted beyond redemption. The government with a view to conciliating him awarded him over £5,000 p.a. compensation for the loss of his office. He also received £7,500 for his moiety of the disfranchised borough of Dunleer. Even if they could have achieved their object with £6,000 p.a. and a peerage, they would not have rescued him from chronic financial difficulties, exacerbated by his estate improvements and dependence on official income, to meet which a subscription of his admirers had previously been started but called off, and which in 1806 caused him to sell his pension.1

Foster was returned unchallenged for Louth, but with a question mark over his political views, and he was now deprived of the office of custos there. He did not take his seat in 1801, informing his friend Lord Sheffield, 5 Feb.:

I have no thought of it. After the treatment I have received from administration I cannot have their confidence, and I could therefore do little good. My habits in life have been to support government, and if I am prevented from continuing them, I am too old to adopt others, nor is this a time for a man to join in opposition, nor will I ever, while my sentiments continue, join any party. I never did so yet.

The Irish chief secretary, Abbot, on taking his departure a year later reported:

Mr Foster—who was ready to lend his assistance to Lord Hardwicke’s administration, provided he could have the sole direction of it, was treated with civility and respect, but not invited to assume the reins of government. He resided the whole of my time in the county of Louth—and visited Dublin only occasionally.

He put it more succinctly in a letter of 21 Jan. 1802: ‘he doubted our stability, and affected to think we declined his advice and assistance, and never came near us, though frequently in Dublin’. In fact, the viceroy had consulted Pitt on ‘the conduct to be holden towards Foster’, who had attended the first levée, it being understood that he was desirous of supporting the government. On 3 and 4 Oct. 1801, the viceroy’s secretary Dr Lindsay had an interview with him at Collon, where he had been invited to admire the agricultural improvements, in which Foster was ‘very frank and communicative’ and favoured gradual assimilation of Ireland with England; as to the Union, once passed, ‘he as a good subject would never wish to hear the question agitated’. In November, having already decided to attend Parliament in February, he appeared at the viceroy’s table, where he ‘complained much of shyness towards him’ and displayed symptoms of ‘wishing connection’. Irish wishful thinkers awarded him the Speaker’s chair. Abbot was invited to Collon but preferred to see him at the Castle, where on 18 Jan. 1802 he had ‘a full and apparently amicable conference with him on all leading Irish topics’. Foster offered his assistance in Parliament with Irish business, saying he feared Ireland was not understood at Westminster. Abbot’s private comment was:

His countrymen, however, give him so much credit for craft and tergiversation that it will require the large stage of an united Parliament to liberalise his manners; civility he is most unquestionably entitled to, but I much doubt whether he will repay confidence in sterling gold.2

Foster, the last survivor of the Irish cabinet before the Union, took his seat at Westminster on 3 Feb. 1802. A last-minute attempt, before he left Ireland on 27 Jan., to make him the popular candidate for the city of Dublin by acclaim, which might have worked in 1799, misfired. The Irish government had placed his brother-in-law on the revenue board and been willing to restore his son there. On arrival he was treated with civility, placed on the Board of Trade, invited to select Irish ministerialist dinners and officially whitewashed: but the new chief secretary, Wickham, reported, 8 Mar. 1802, that

his whole language when among the Irish, or among Englishmen not connected with government is very decidedly hostile to the present administration both in England and Ireland, and ... he is evidently aiming at forming a party of his own, among his own countrymen, with the express view of being able more seriously to embarrass the government in any moment of difficulty or danger.

He was to have moved for an Irish corn committee by way of debut, but the viceroy warned that he would hold himself forth ‘as the great friend and patron of the agricultural interests of Ireland’ and added (9 Mar.):

It strikes me as very singular that he should now be so desirous of bringing forward this motion on the subject of corn when he would not even admit in conversation here, the benefits of a free intercourse between the two countries.

In fact, he favoured an open trade, if endorsed by committee. In the event the question was delayed and it was Addington who moved it: Foster, who seconded it, was placed on the committee on 15 Mar.3 On 12 Mar., irritated by this arrangement, he had made his Westminster debut by objecting to the Irish Revenue Acts envisaged under the Union as permanent charges to defray the interest on the Irish national debt: he wished them to be submitted to the committee of supply, according to Irish practice. Addington and Castlereagh overruled him. Foster’s ‘exhibition’ was officially condemned, and when on 16 Mar. he made a stronger speech on the same subject the chief secretary described it to the viceroy as ‘hostile, unfair and even mischievous and factious’, but added that Foster disappointed his hopeful opposition audience by growing ‘languid, unequal and incorrect’, and wearying them with his ‘brogue’; nor did a single Irish Member support him. He then remained silent at the committee stage and voted for the third reading, so that on 22 Mar. the chief secretary could report: ‘I really believe the man is at this moment, what he always ought to be, perfectly neutralized’. Otherwise, being ‘an unsafe man and a bully’, Foster would be ‘a troublesome thorn in the side of government on many particular questions’, which was only one step away from being an enemy. From Dublin, the under-secretary, Marsden, reporting that Foster’s ‘failure’ was ‘pretty generally understood here’, alleged that he had always shown ‘more cunning than sense’, but that ‘spleen and ambition are not easily neutralized—he must be made insignificant, and not by gentle means’.4

In short, the Addington ministry were afraid of Foster, and in the remainder of that session of 1802 he caused them further embarrassment. On 31 Mar. he voted for inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s claims to the duchy of Cornwall revenues. On 7 May he cost them ‘eight or ten’ Irish votes by supporting Nicholls’s motion applauding the removal from power of Pitt, because Pitt had carried the Irish union ‘by the most improper means’. He compromised the Irish government proposals for inspection of flax seed by revenue collectors by asserting the claims of linen board inspectors; and objected to the repeal of the Irish retail tax, to delays in producing Irish accounts which prevented him from assailing them, to Irish militia regulations, to the Irish controverted election bill and to the Irish budget. The most disturbing feature in all this was Foster’s adherence to his anti-Union arguments of 1799, which strengthened the ministry’s resolve to stand up to him. On 9 June he lost his ‘puny war of accounts’ with Isaac Corry, the Irish chancellor of the exchequer, by 62 votes to 21. The premier concluded, 29 June, ‘Mr Foster has rather shown his inclination than his power’.5

Foster was expected to be ‘in open opposition’ in the new Parliament of 1802, but he did not leave Ireland. There was ‘a trifling rumour’ of his being put up for the Speaker’s chair, which, owing to his having made himself ‘very contemptible, and very disagreeable to every body by his ill-natured, absurd speechifications last year’, wrote the Speaker’s secretary, was a prospect so odious to some of the clerks of the House that ‘some of them were thinking of resigning, if he stepped into the chair’. He nursed his grievances at Collon and revenged himself for the viceroy’s civil refusal of his proffered services after the Dublin rising of July 1803 by a hostile manifesto in county Louth, which he sent both to the viceroy and to the Home secretary. Chief Secretary Wickham, while deploring this, advised Addington that the Irish government wished to come to terms with Foster and made a correspondence, over the army of reserve bill the pretext for a meeting at Dublin (Wickham had offered to go to Collon) at the end of October 1803. Wickham feared that the chief bar to Foster’s accepting office was his hostility to Isaac Corry, in whom he had no faith, and was at a loss to know, without expelling Corry for Foster’s sake, which was out of the question, what to offer him. Castlereagh suggested the chair of the revenue boards, but this would soon involve him in a clash with Corry. After reciting his grievances against Addington’s government, Foster confirmed that he would not serve under Corry, and even wished to see Corry’s office abolished, but he offered the ministry a general support out of office.6

On 6 Feb. 1804 Foster took his seat for the first time in that Parliament. His object was to combat the anomaly in a rate of exchange between Britain and Ireland so unfavourable to the latter, and as government would not take it up he obtained a committee on the subject, 2 Mar. 1804, chaired by himself. Meanwhile he ‘quizzed’ Corry by evoking the royal prerogative when Corry sought the passage of the perpetual Irish Revenue Acts, 9 and 12 Mar. 1804. Like Pitt, Foster absented himself from the censure on the viceroy over the Dublin rising, 7 Mar., but this gave rise to the news, soon confirmed and ‘more entertaining than surprising’, that he had resolved to act with Pitt. Indeed, Lord Camden on 14 Feb. had reported him ‘most anxious to belong to our little party’. He voted with the minority on Pitty’s navy motion, 15 Mar., as well as in divisions of 10 and 12 Apr. and, while continuing to harass Corry on Irish financial questions, joined the large minorities on defence, 23 and 25 Apr., which brought down the ministry.7

In Pitt’s second ministry, Foster became chancellor of the Irish exchequer and on Lord Shannon’s agreeing to resign the place and keep the equivalent of the salary, first lord of the treasury in Ireland. The viceroy soon had misgivings that he would ‘assume too much power’. The Irish lord chancellor Redesdale announced, ‘Lord Hardwicke has now put his neck under the feet of Mr Foster and must expect to be trampled upon’. Hardwicke’s only hope was for a strong chief secretary who could stand up to him, but he did not get one. On 7 June 1804 Foster tried to brush aside Wilberforce’s motion for the abolition of the slave trade, to which, in passing, he was a friend, in order to move for a committee to repeal the Irish linen export duty, and when next day he did so he was challenged for introducing official business without having vacated his seat.8 Undaunted, Foster, who had shrugged aside Corry’s budget prepared for that session, introduced his own on 20 June 1804. He did so, in the Speaker’s view,

with clearness—force—and brevity—I think in a good taste—and taste—and without any epithets of censure on any persons—but not without some facts from which the inferences were striking and meant to be so ... His taxes apparently will pass without opposition. He promises a parliamentary commission to enquire into official abuses and reform; if the commissioners are honestly and ably chosen it will do a lasting good.

He obtained the commission to reform the revenue boards on 25 June and had to be restrained from packing it with his own nominees. This ‘terrible commission’ caused some offence, being interpreted as an attempt to discredit the Irish government since the Union. The Speaker doubted whether he was ‘a very great favourite with the House of Commons at large or with his new ministerial friends’. What confirmed it was a fresh challenge on 11 July, when he was moving official business, about his not having vacated his seat. This time he did so, the delay having been allegedly due to ‘an agent’s mistake’. The writ for his re-election was moved on 14 July after he had carried his budgetary business and he was re-elected on 6 Aug.9

Foster, not surprisingly, would not hear of the consolidation of the English and Irish treasuries at this juncture when he was attempting to obviate it by reform of the revenue collection and ‘lording it over them in high style, and over every board in the kingdom [of Ireland]’. George III had remarked of him to Pitt in accepting his official appointment, 2 Aug. 1804:

The King is certain Mr Pitt cannot have forgot the conduct of Mr Foster at the time of the union with Ireland, therefore need not remark on the political changes of that gentleman. He certainly has talents, and if he employs [them] as he ought, may be an useful servant of the crown.

Redesdale was the prophet of doom: after Foster had dismissed a revenue officer without consulting the viceroy and refused to countenance ‘irregularities’ on the Irish pension list which were ‘the price of a union vote’, he predicted, 5 Nov. 1804, that he would soon be ‘much above the management of ministers’. The viceroy grumbled about him and did no more; the chief secretary quarrelled with him and did nothing about it; and he ignored the rest of the Irish government. On 7 Nov. Redesdale wrote to England that Foster was ‘declaring himself the efficient minister in Ireland ... His plan was manifestly to reduce the chief secretary to nothing, and the lord lieutenant to contempt’: he would shortly be ‘lord of Ireland’. On 17 Dec. Redesdale’s language about him reached its apogee:

You have given us [he informed Spencer Perceval] to add to our difficulties, the most profligate, the most dishonest, the most lying, the most crafty, the most violent, the most acute and the most wild man of talent whom Ireland has produced, as the prime minister of the country, the viceroy over the King’s viceregent and he lords it royally. At the same time his necessities are so great, whilst his dishonesty is so notorious, that no man would pay for his patent, which therefore passed the seal so as to make his seat in Parliament questionable; and he lives in a ready furnished house, though he has a much better house in Dublin unfurnished ... stripped ... by executions.

In a similar tirade of 15 Jan. 1805, Redesdale complained: ‘He disregards everything but his own power and emolument, and insults everybody by his assumed consequence and affected obsequiousness’.10 The viceroy at first claimed to have got on ‘tolerably well’ with him and feared only that his chief secretary, Nepean, had ‘given way to him more than he ought to have done’, but after Nepean’s departure from Ireland he grumbled to Pitt, 14 Dec. 1804, ‘Mr Foster has taken advantage of this awkward state of things to assume powers and to raise pretensions, which if not checked will be found very inconvenient’. He noted that Foster was already questioning the expense of the viceregal establishment. The Home secretary agreed that, on the appointment of a new chief secretary, Foster ‘if he wishes to continue where he is ... must consider himself as a servant of the Irish government and nothing else’.11

Although on Vansittart’s appointment the viceroy called for ‘an explanation’ from Foster, he was soon uneasier than ever about him. In March 1805 they clashed about the appointment of George Knox* to the treasury board, Foster’s nephew actually opposing Knox’s re-election on the occasion; and about Foster’s having the sole management of his proposed Irish revenue bills, without consulting the Castle or the law officers. He carried his Irish budget of 13 Mar. 1805, except for the six per cent retail import tax, as well as a measure to regulate Irish currency, and he made a notable speech against Catholic relief on 14 May; but he found himself obstructed by the viceroy when he championed his Irish customs and excise officers regulation bill in May. Redesdale, alleging that he seemed determined ‘to be in Ireland what Lord Melville was in Scotland’, maintained that the ministry were allowing him to overthrow all the authority of the viceroy: the chief secretary lacked ‘the activity and exertion necessary to control such a man’. In this, Under-Secretary Marsden concurred. On 4 June the viceroy complained to Pitt of the ‘slights, inattention and neglect’ he had met with from Foster, though he did not doubt they were aimed at his office, not ad personam. In further letters of 7 and 11 June he explained that Foster’s regulation of the revenue boards was intended, ‘under the pretence of a purer administration’, to establish an ‘independent authority, that he should be looked up to as the fountain of grace and favour and that the lord lieutenant and his secretary should be nothing’: in short, he must receive a ‘check’ forthwith, as he was not to be conciliated by any attention. On 28 June, the Speaker reported:

This day, in consequence of Lord Hardwicke’s remonstrance against Mr Foster’s Irish bills proceeding without his concurrence, Lord Hawkesbury threw out Mr Foster’s distillery bill in the Lords, and stopped his bill for dividing the customs and excise boards.

Foster retaliated by threatening resignation, and when it became clear that government were abandoning his measures he offered it to Pitt, 29 June, but Pitt would not hear of it and dissuaded him through Canning. The viceroy, disappointed, regarded this as a definite signal for him to leave Ireland, but Pitt’s wish was to temporize and patch up the breach. Although Redesdale might maintain that Foster’s rise to power was a symptom of the débâle of viceregal government, making Ireland the worst-governed country in Europe except for Turkey, ministers saw no practical alternative to continuing the lord lieutenancy; nor does it seem that Foster had any ‘new arrangement’ to suggest. He did claim that his resumption of office was provisional and relied on government fears of loss of Irish support to sustain him.12

To maintain the ‘temporizing compromise’, Pitt sent Charles Long to Ireland as chief secretary to keep the peace between Hardwicke and Foster. The former was not reconciled and, after renewed complaints of Foster’s attempts to undermine the vice-regal authority and of his abuse of official patronage, cold shouldered him on his return to Ireland in the autumn of 1805. Long assured Pitt that Foster ‘is thought of much more importance in England than he is here’. Foster set about reassuring the new chief secretary who insisted that he should in future take no step without consulting him. Before it was clear whether the compromise could be worked, Pitt’s death ended it: how uneasy it was Long suggested to Pitt, 13 Nov. 1805, reporting that when ‘everything seemed arranged’, Foster said ‘he could not enter upon business while Lord Hardwicke stayed’. Long had to threaten to replace Foster to induce him to ‘resume his functions’ and commented:

it is evident he is trying how far he can go, meaning to give up the point if he cannot carry it. In truth he requires so much more watching than there is time for consistently with many other avocations that if I consulted my own ease alone I had rather be without him—but I think I can keep him, though certainly not without some trouble.

Hardwicke, for his part, thought it was time the Irish exchequer was abolished and its supervision assigned to the chief secretary.13

Foster would willingly have clung to office on the advent of the Grenville ministry, but when they ousted him, he went into ardent opposition. He was in the minorities of 3 Mar., 30 Apr. and 17 June 1806, but made his hostility most obvious in clashes with Sir John Newport, his successor at the Irish exchequer, who made alterations to his favourite fiscal expedients. After the first encounter on 14 Apr., Newport complained of ‘the most double and disingenuous part’ played by Foster. On 7 May he was the chief critic of Newport’s budget proposals and called for the consolidation of English and Irish national debts. Newport found him capable of embarrassing his financial operations in the House considerably that month and equally prepared to sabotage his mail coach road bill, enlisting the support of Irish county Members for a modified bill of his own. Foster professed support for Newport’s corn intercourse bill, but came out against it and opposed his Irish elections and poor relief bills.14

Foster re-emerged as a candidate for office on the fall of the Grenville ministry, coming over after being absent all that session to vote in favour of their successors, 9 Apr. 1807. He was offered the exchequer again, but insisted on being first lord of the Irish treasury as well. This had been set aside for the Duke of Portland and Foster had to give in. He became instead a supernumerary lord of the English Treasury, as well as second lord of the Irish treasury. He was soon reasserting his authority and Lord Hawkesbury, objecting to his having the nomination of a fourth treasury commissioner, complained of his ‘unvariable endeavours at all times to create an independent party for himself’. On 6 June the chief secretary wrote from Dublin:

Yesterday he [Foster] began the battle respecting the treasury, and made his first effort to supersede the authority of the lord lieutenant by that of the Irish treasury. I propose, however, to adjourn the contest to London, where it must be settled by the King’s servants.

Two days later he added that after ‘two or three very unpleasant discussions with him’, he left it up to the English government to decide ‘whether he or the Duke of Richmond is to govern this country’. Such anxiety proved exaggerated. Foster became preoccupied by Irish business at Westminster, though Perceval made him second lord of the English Treasury in 1809. He continued to speak and vote against Catholic claims, but was chiefly interested in, and in 1808 fell out with the ministry over, the protection of Irish agriculture and breweries, particularly against the Caribbean planters when distillation from grain was prohibited. He failed, however, to secure Irish exemption from the prohibition until 1810 and complained of want of ministerial backing for his fiscal expedients in 1809. He remained a champion of the linen trade and of the draining of Irish bogs, for which he proposed to legislate, 2 May 1809. He also aimed to improve Irish revenue collection and claimed on 3 May 1810 that the present government of Ireland was ‘strict and economical’. In 1810, after standing by government in the divisions on the Scheldt expedition, he voted against radical agitation, criminal law reform, sinecure reform and parliamentary reform. One instance of his obstinacy that troubled government was his initial hostility to the suspension of his town land fines system of dealing with illicit distillation in Ireland, but he relented and on 21 Mar. 1810 the chief secretary, announcing this, added: ‘Foster has behaved extremely well, and has deferred to our opinions against his own with great good humour’. Moreover, during the Regency debates, when his absence gave rise to ‘very unpleasant reports’, he obliged the government by responding to a circular and was in the government minority on 1 Jan. 1811.15

Although he transacted Irish financial business as usual that session, he admitted to Perceval that Ireland could not be made to pay its way and his retirement was already on the cards. The chief secretary, Wellesley Pole, had pressed Perceval in March to amalgamate the Irish exchequer with the chief secretaryship; Perceval temporized by insisting on Foster’s remaining in office until the end of the session, but made him agree, against his inclinations, to a committee of inquiry into Ireland’s ability to meet its financial obligations under the Union. Foster doubtless expected a peerage and pension to reward his accommodation of Perceval’s wishes. On 20 May 1811 he introduced his last Irish budget, and in debate on 24 May, denying that Ireland was a burden to England, called for conciliation between the two countries. The catch phrase ‘take back your Union’ attributed to him in debate but not reported, seems to have been taken out of context from chaffing that evening between Henry Bankes and himself and ‘all the Irish’ who were ‘all drunk—to the great entertainment of the House’.16

After quitting office in 1811, Foster was an inactive parliamentarian. He was absent in 1812, and in May of that year Lord Wellesley was assured that Foster’s friends would support him in power in exchange for a United Kingdom peerage for him. Wellesley Pole had paid fulsome tribute to him in the House on 21 Apr. As it was, on 24 Sept. 1812 Foster applied to Lord Liverpool for the honour, reciting his 51 years’ service in public life, but emphasizing his claims as former Speaker of the Irish house. He stated that he had made his wish known in 1807. The premier, who had also been lobbied by Camden and Castlereagh on Foster’s behalf, could do nothing for him.17

There is no evidence that Foster attended the Parliament of 1812, in which his son did not sit, except in May 1814. His political heirs were his nephews, John Leslie Foster, William Fitzgerald* and John Maxwell Barry*, who were all candidates for the Irish exchequer when the experiment of uniting it with the chief secretaryship ended in 1812. The ‘Foster school’ made the Castle apprehensive, and when Fitzgerald was awarded the exchequer he was frequently admonished by his uncle on Irish fiscal and economic questions and discouraged from tinkering with his system. Foster had evidently intended to come to Westminster for the Catholic debates in 1813, but his wife’s illness detained him and, through Fitzgerald, he obtained repeated leaves of absence. He left Ireland on 16 Apr. 1814 to attend Morpeth’s motion critical of the Speaker, and on 13, 16 and 17 May he attended the Corn Law debate to make a protectionist plea: his proposals were rejected by 81 votes to 60.18 Thereafter he was again absent. On 7 July 1816, explaining this by his wife’s illness, he renewed his application to Liverpool for an English peerage, but without success. In January 1817 he informed the chief secretary that his own and his wife’s illness would delay his attendance, which it did for the rest of the Parliament. At the dissolution he once more applied for an English peerage, unsuccessfully.19

Foster attended in the spring of 1819, being in the minority on the Marriage Act amendment bill, 26 Apr., and in the government majorities against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and in favour of the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June. He also spoke on the Irish partnership bill, 5 May. This time his peerage application was more favourably heard, though he does not seem to have made it until after his re-election for Louth in 1820.20 He became Baron Oriel and died 23 Aug. 1828.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


Based on A. P. W. Malcomson, John Foster. The politics of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy (1978).

  • 1. Falkland, Principal Characters of Irish House of Commons (1789), 131-2; Add. 33106, f. 322; Corresp. Rt. Hon. J. Beresford, i. 328; ii. 200; Horner mss 8, f. 6; Windham Pprs. ii. 92; Heron, Notes (1851), 140, 172; Farington, i. 250; iv. 181; Geo. III Corresp. iii. 2169.
  • 2. Colchester, i. 269, 279, 293, 403; PRO 30/9/12/3, Lindsay to Abbot, 5 June; 30/9/13, pt. 2, ‘Minute of Dr Lindsay’s conference with Mr Foster at Collon’; 30/9/1, pt. 2/2, Corry to Abbot, 16 Nov., pt. 2/3, Foster to same, 25 Nov. 1801; 30/9/12/2, Minute of Abbot’s interview with Foster, 18 Jan. 1802; Sheffield mss, Foster to Sheffield, 25 Oct. 1801; Glenbervie Diaries, i. 391.
  • 3. PRO 30/9/1, pt. 2/1, Abbot to Addington, 5 Jan., reply 11 Jan., pt. 3/4, Marsden to Abbot, 27 Jan. 1802; Colchester, i. 294; Wickham mss 1/46/4, Wickham to Addington, 5 Mar. 1802; Add. 35713, ff. 14, 19; 35771, f. 197; Sidmouth mss Hardwicke to Addington, 28 Dec. 1801.
  • 4. Add. 35713, f. 38; 35771, f. 203; PRO 30/9/1, pt. 3/4, Marsden to Abbot, 27 Mar. 1802.
  • 5. Add. 35713, ff. 92, 136; Glos. RO, Redesdale mss X15, Addington to Redesdale, 29 June; Wickham mss 1/46/19, Wickham to Addington, 3 Sept., 18 Dec. 1802.
  • 6. Dublin SPO 520/129/40, Rickman to Marsden, 26 Nov. 1802; Add. 35713, f. 122; 45032, ff. 27, 29; Wickham mss 5/27, Wickham to Foster, 24 Aug., 6 Sept.; 5/39, Foster to Wickham, 28 Aug.; 1/45/27, Wickham to Addington, 12 Aug.; 1/6, Wickham to Castlereagh, 29 Sept., reply 16 Oct.; Sidmouth mss, Wickham to Addington, 29 Aug., 4 Nov. 1803.
  • 7. Corresp. Rt. Hon. J. Beresford, ii. 276, 277; HMC Bathurst, 33; Redesdale mss C7, Abbot to Redesdale, 19 Apr. 1804.
  • 8. Add. 35715, ff. 53, 72, 80; 45033, f. 133; PRO 30/8/328, ff. 99, 103; Colchester, i. 523.
  • 9. Redesdale mss C7, Abbot to Redesdale, 21 June, 19 July 1804; Add. 35715, ff. 103, 110, 112; 35751, f. 169; PRO 30/8/325, f. 45.
  • 10. Corresp. Rt. Hon. J. Beresford, ii. 291, 304; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2922; Add. 49188, ff. 179, 189; PRO 30/8/330, f. 13; Sidmouth mss, Redesdale to Sidmouth, 15 Jan. 1805.
  • 11. Add. 35706, ff. 108, 151; PRO 30/8/328, f. 123.
  • 12. PRO 30/8/328, ff. 65, 147, 148, 151, 157, 161, 163, 165, 169; 330, f. 31; Parl. Deb. iv. 999; v. 130; Add. 31230, ff. 14, 57, 83; 35706, f. 252; 35710, ff. 36, 144; 35756, f. 225; 38833, f. 183; 49188, f. 200; Colchester, ii. 7 (misdated 11 June), 13; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 2 July 1805.
  • 13. Redesdale mss X25, Hardwicke to Redesdale, 9 Sept., Long to same, 25 Sept. 1805; Add. 35706, ff. 263, 272, 304, 327; 35718, f. 146; PRO 30/8/328, ff. 259, 265; Camden mss C242.
  • 14. Dublin SPO 531/225/3, Long to Marsden, 17 Feb.; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 21 Feb.; NLS mss 12917, Newport to Elliot, 15 Apr., 9, 23, 24 May, 1, 21 June, 6, 11 July 1806; HMC Fortescue, viii. 154.
  • 15. Grey mss, Bedford to Howick, 19 Jan.; NLS mss 12909, Elliot to Bedford, 9 Apr.; 12913, Elliot to Trail, 11, 17 Apr. 1807; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 3447; Wellington mss, Hawkesbury to Wellesley, 6 May 1807; Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 73, 77; NLI, Richmond mss 73/1653, 1658, 1702, 1715, 1716, 1718; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 22 Dec. 1810.
  • 16. Richmond mss 65/748, 751, 754, 773; 73/1730.
  • 17. Add. 37297, f. 73; PRO NI, Foster mss 336, Foster to Liverpool, 24 Sept., reply 10 Oct. 1812.
  • 18. Add. 38249, f. 20; 40185, f. 11; 40188, f. 7; NLI, Fitzgerald mss 7813, p. 255; 7818, pp. 198, 278; 7821, p. 188.
  • 19. Add. 38263, f. 56; 40262, f. 304; Foster mss 336, Foster to Liverpool, 7 July, reply 18 July 1816, Liverpool to Foster, 8 June 1818.
  • 20. Foster mss 336, Camden to Foster, 2 Apr., Foster to George IV, 9 Apr. 1820.