WELD FORESTER, Hon. John George Weld (1801-1874).
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Educationb. 9 Aug. 1801, 1st s. of Cecil Forester (afterwards Weld Forester†) of Ross Hall, nr. Shrewsbury and Lady Katherine Mary Manners, da. of Charles, 4th duke of Rutland; bro. of Hon. George Cecil Weld Weld Forester*. educ. Westminster 1814-18; Christ Church, Oxf. 1820. m. 10 June 1856, Countess Alexandrina Julia Theresa Wihelmina Sophia, da. of Joachim Carl Ludwig Mortimer, Count Von Maltzan, wid. of Frederick James Lamb, 3rd Visct. Melbourne [I], 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Bar. Forester 23 May 1828. d. 10 Oct. 1874.
Capt. of gentlemen at arms 1841-6; PC 14 Sept. 1841.
George Forester, as he was known, the heir to the Weld Foresters’ prestigious Shropshire estates of Dothill, Ross Hall and Willey, spent his early life in London and at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, the seat of his maternal uncle, the 5th duke of Rutland. He had been baptized at St. James’s, Westminster, 7 Sept. 1801, but at the age of six and with the prince of Wales as their godfather, he was christened again in Shrewsbury with his younger brother Cecil. Their father, a celebrated sportsman, retired as Member for the family borough of Wenlock in 1820 in anticipation of a peerage, and felt so ‘ill used’ on being denied the Wenlock barony and created Baron Forester in 1821 that he and his wife, who lamented the lack of rank which ‘Lord Fagend’ brought her, determined to stay away from the coronation.1 Weld Forester’s coming-of-age the following August was the first great celebration at their new mansion at Willey, with its ‘extremely fine’ vestibule.2 He received a quarterly allowance of £125,3 took his freedom at Wenlock,4 indulged the passion for hunting he had acquired at Oxford, and formed a lifelong attachment to Mrs. Lane Fox, the wife of his friend George, Member for Beverley.5
As Member for Wenlock, where he was substituted for his uncle Francis Forester at the general election of 1826,6 Weld Forester acquired a reputation for indolence and was among those criticized by the patronage secretary Planta in March 1828 for failing to give the Wellington ministry reliable support despite the public money their families received.7 He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and the provision for Canning’s family, 13 May 1828. He presented Shropshire petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 9 June 1827. He travelled through the Low Countries that summer with his future brother-in-law George Anson* and their friends, and in November became a founder member of the Crown Club, exclusive to Members, government ministers and East India Company personnel.8
Removed to the Lords by his father’s death in May 1828, he made his proxy available to Wellington whenever he was away hunting, and surprised many in Shropshire by supporting Catholic emancipation in 1829.9 Family papers reveal that he was highly supportive of his mother and ten young siblings, who were otherwise poorly provided for.10 Acknowledging his ‘great kindness’, his mother, who died, 1 May 1829, entreated him ‘constantly to receive the sacrament, examine yourself’, and to remove the ‘one blot in your life’ by marrying ‘a sensible girl’ and settling ‘in your own country where you will always be looked up to’.11 Friends observed that he was then too ‘sentimental’ about Mrs. Lane Fox to do so.12 Following discussions with Wellington, he opposed reform in 1831 and 1832, for which his coach was ransacked by the London mob and his guns stolen, and became an early member of the Carlton Club.13 A lifelong Conservative and friend of Benjamin Disraeli†, his request to be made captain of the gentlemen at arms in 1841 instead of master of the queen’s hounds, as first proposed, was readily granted as premier by Sir Robert Peel.14 He died in October 1874, recalled as an able master of the Belvoir Hunt, 1830-58, and for his ‘Wenlock programme’, which brought competitive athletics to Shropshire.15 The only child of his late marriage to the daughter of the Prussian envoy (Lord Melbourne’s young widow) was a stillborn son;16 and the barony and estates, which benefited through his promotion of the Severn Valley Railway, agricultural improvements and careful management of iron and coal deposits, passed to Cecil.17 His widow (d. 1894), sister Lady Bradford, four surviving brothers, niece Isabella Curzon and Mrs. Lane Fox were the principal beneficiaries of his will, which was proved at Shrewsbury, 21 Jan. 1875.18
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. VCH Salop, iii. 296-7; J.D. Nichol, ‘Wynnstay, Willey and Wenlock’, Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. lviii (1965-8), 222, 230-1; Salop Archives, Weld-Forester mss 1224/332/159; HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 790-1.
- 2. NLW, Aston Hall mss C.5717; Gent. Mag. (1822), ii. 306; Von Neumann Diary, ii. 192.
- 3. Weld-Forester mss 37/112.
- 4. Ibid. box 337, Procs. at Wenlock, 29 Sept. 1823.
- 5. Essex RO, Gunnis mss D/Gu C6/1/9, K. Forester to Louisa Lloyd, 30 Sept. 1820; Add. 52017, J.R. Townshend to H.E. Fox, 6 Aug. 1825.
- 6. Weld-Forester mss 37/161; Salop Archives, Blakemore mss 604, box 8, Lord Forester’s letterbk. pp. 113-22; Salopian Jnl. 17 May, 14 June; The Times, 23 May 1826.
- 7. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 176.
- 8. Weld-Forester mss 37/81A, 160, 166.
- 9. Wellington mss WP1/1006/21; 1094/36; 1098/36; 1101/14; 1105/8, 23; Aston Hall mss C.5723; Add. 40427, f. 125.
- 10. PROB 11/1745/535; Weld-Forester mss, boxes 331 and 332; NLW ms 2796 D, Sir W. to H. Williams Wynn, 27 May 1828.
- 11. Weld Forester mss 37/124-7; 332/192.
- 12. Aston Hall mss C.5298-9; Greville Mems. ii. 50.
- 13. Wellington mss WP1/1187/20; Three Diaries, 94; Aston Hall mss C.2115a.
- 14. Add. 40486, f. 247; 40487, ff. 324-6; 40489, f. 295; 40531, ff. 167-8; 40554, ff. 82, 85.
- 15. VCH Salop, ii. 175, 193, 449, 454; xi. 278-82; Wellington Jnl. 17, 24 Oct. 1874.
- 16. Gent. Mag. (1859), i. 86.
- 17. Illustrated London News, 17 Oct. 1874.
- 18. Salop Archives, wills 1875/52.