FORSTER, Anthony (by 1501-59), of Newark-upon-Trent, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. by 1501, 3rd s. of Sir George Forster of Harpsden, Oxon. and Aldermaston, Berks. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Delamare of Aldermaston. m. (1) Eleanor, da. of John Pates of Oxon. by Eleanor, sis. of John Longland of Henley-on-Thames, Oxon., 1s. 2da.; (2) Christian, da. of John Dabridgecourt of Langdon Hall, Warws. by Elizabeth, da. of Roger Wigston of Wolston, Warws., 1da.1
Bailiff, Newark 1522-?d., alderman 1549; escheator, Notts. and Derbys. 1555-6.2
A A younger son in a Berkshire family, Anthony Forster is not to be confused with a namesake of Shropshire origin who was indicted in 1556 for complicity in the Dudley conspiracy and who later settled at Cumnor Place, Berkshire, and was returned for Abingdon to three Elizabethan Parliaments.3
It was Forster’s first marriage which brought him to Newark, where although he engaged in the wool trade and reared cattle his influence rested on his position as bailiff to his wife’s uncle John Longland, bishop of Lincoln (1521-47) and so governor of the town. The bishop claimed that his predecessors from time immemorial had enjoyed the right to hold a moot or burgh court in Newark, to which all except free burgesses of Newark owed suit. Forster held this court twice a year, and his vigilance in upholding both the bishop’s rights and his own led him on more than one occasion into bitter conflict with the townsmen. Thus in 1535 there was a Star Chamber case over rights of common in which the town itself and several prominent local justices were involved. In the previous July Bishop Longland had sought Cromwell’s protection for Forster and other servants of his who had been involved in a riot countenanced by Sir John Markham and Sir William Mering, whom Forster then sued in Chancery. After further trouble in 1535 Cranmer supported Markham and Mering against Forster, who was boasting that Markham should be committed to prison before he could make his answer, while Longland complained that there had not been ‘so great a riot of late days within the realm and so little done to punish the offenders’. The new disturbances were brought into the Star Chamber, where Forster and the townsmen of Newark gave conflicting accounts of what had happened and of the rights which were at stake.4
Forster also antagonized the men of Nottingham by exacting toll from persons carrying merchandise through Newark. Edward Crewe and other townsmen complained in Chancery that, notwithstanding their freedom of toll throughout England, a privilege confirmed in 1510, Forster had ordered his officials to collect toll from them and had put Crewe in the stocks ‘because he spoke in the right of the said town of Nottingham touching the said liberties’. Forster’s reply was that the bishop of Lincoln had from time immemorial taken toll, and that as lessee of the demesne lands he had the right to collect it. A similar complaint from Leeds in 1551 testifies to Forster’s persistence, but in 1555 he agreed to accept the decision of three arbitrators, one of them Hugh Thornhill, over the taking of toll at the west end of Newark bridge.5
After the alienation of the manor and half wapentake to the crown early in the reign of Edward VI, Forster continued as bailiff to uphold the privileges of the liberty. In 1552 he complained to (Sir) Richard Sackville II that the sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, Sir Anthony Neville, had interfered with the jurisdiction of the liberty and transgressed its ancient customs. As one of Longland’s executors he sued Agnes and Richard Bassett and Richard Whalley for depriving the bishop of his rights of wardship of Edward Bassett. His own right to appoint subordinate officers he exercised to the full; his will included the appointment of John Mallen as under bailiff for life. His local standing is shown by his election in 1546 as alderman of the Holy Trinity guild and by his appointment as the town’s first alderman upon its incorporation three years later.6
Forster’s ascendancy in Newark was not matched by his position in the shire, but he was a well-to-do landowner, a distant kinsman of the 2nd Earl of Rutland and an associate of prominent gentlemen in the neighbourhood, several of whom had belonged to the Holy Trinity guild. As his election in 1555 fell within John White’s brief tenure of the see of Lincoln he may have enjoyed the support of that favoured ecclesiastic. It was also doubtless by more than coincidence that this Parliament saw the introduction of a bill for the paving of Newark. Although when engrossed after its second reading it provided for the paving of Oxford and Wilton as well as Newark, the bill had originally applied to Newark alone: it failed to pass and 30 years were to elapse before the town was empowered to pave its streets. Forster was not listed among the Members who followed Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in opposing one of the government’s bills.7
Forster’s connexions are reflected in his appointment of supervisors of his will, which he made on 23 Feb. 1559: they were two prominent Nottinghamshire gentlemen, Sir John Markham and Richard Whalley, together with his brother-in-law Richard Pates, bishop of Worcester, and his nephew William Forster† of Aldermaston, and to each of them he gave a ring. He left lands in Nottinghamshire, £200 and specified valuables to his wife Christian, as well as his lease of St. Leonard’s hospital, Newark, for as long as she chose to live there. Each of his three daughters was to receive £200, plate and a share of the residue of his lands and goods, and having been brought up by his wife was to be married at the age of 18 or earlier: the stipulation that they must marry with the consent of the executors was relaxed by a codicil which required only that their marriages should be suitable. (In the course of a dispute between two of the daughters over the effect of these provisions one of them claimed that her father had left goods worth £2,400 whereas the executors stated that his debts exceeded his assets by £40.) Several relatives received bequests of money and plate, certain servants lands and offices, and household servants half a year’s wages. The executors were a brother-in-law Thomas Dabridgecourt, Francis Molyneux, George Cartwright and Henry Fenton; they were to receive the yield of property in Newark and Northgate, including the lease of the castle and the income from the tolls, until the son and heir Giles reached the age of 24. Giles Forster was himself to have his father’s armour and books, and a gold chain and ring. The town of Newark was remembered by a gift of lands in Mering Close to the aldermen and assistants for the care of the sick, and by £20 for the poor.8
Forster died in March 1559 and was buried, as he had asked to be, on the south side of the Trinity altar in the church of Mary Magdalene, Newark. He had instructed his executors to provide a marble tomb with his arms and pictures of himself and his two wives engraved upon it. His widow married Sir Robert Constable† and Giles Forster a daughter of (Sir) William Mering.9
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: C. J. Black
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 9, 29; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 37-38, 133; DNB (Pate or Pates, Richard); York wills 15(3), f. 302; C142/121/138; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 38.
- 2. C. Brown, Newark, ii. 155, 263.
- 3. Wrongly identified with the Dudley conspirator in D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 215.
- 4. VCH Warws. iv. 140; Brown, i. 187, 190, 343-7; ii. 158; LP Hen. VIII, vii-ix.
- 5. Brown, i. 348; Nottingham Bor. Recs. iv. 397; St. Ch. 2/11/40; LP Hen. VIII, i.
- 6. Brown, i. 253, 349; ii. 155-6; C1/1427/76-78; CPR, 1549-51, pp. 161-2.
- 7. CJ, i. 42, 44-45; Statutes, iv. 704.
- 8. York wills 15(3), f. 302; Brown, ii. 18.
- 9. C142/121/138; Brown, i. 319; ii. 17.