FOSTER (FORSTER), George (by 1518-73), of Boston, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. by 1518. educ. ?Camb. BCL 1530/31. m. Mildred, da. of Adam Foster of Bourne, Lincs., 5s. 1da.2
Under sheriff, Lincs. 1539-40; town clerk, Boston 1545-61, 1567, mayor 1558-9 bailiff and receiver, Boston, Lincs. by 1553; commr. sewers, Lincs. ?1559, 1564, 1570.3
George Foster was probably a native of Boston, but nothing is known of his ancestry. He can be readily distinguished from the George Forsters or Fosters of Essex, Shropshire and Yorkshire, and from a namesake whose will was proved at Lincoln in 1568, another of Horncastle who died in 1569, and a third who died, probably an infant, at Boston in 1570, but less easily from a tenant at Coningsby in 1549 and another at Walcot in 1557. He may have been related to the Maud Foster (d.1581) whose name is commemorated in ‘Maud Foster’s Drain’, a drainage ditch at Boston first cut about 1568. He was perhaps the Cambridge student licensed in 1530/31 to graduate in civil law after five years of study, but if so he was also trained in the common law, for he appeared as an attorney at the Lincoln assizes in 1539 and five years later had a special admission to the Inner Temple. A knowledge of both civil and common law would certainly have helped him at Boston, where cases involving the law merchant were apt to arise.4
In October 1536 a George Forster was one of the Lincolnshire gentlemen sworn according to the King’s commission; those ordered to do so had in general been found on the side of the rebels in the Lincolnshire uprising but had played no very culpable part. Some three years later Foster was accused in the Star Chamber of having conspired with the sheriff of Lincolnshire to prevent Thomas Gregg of Silk Willoughby from obtaining justice. Foster had appeared as attorney for one Robert Beytson, whom Gregg prosecuted for assault and false imprisonment, and having in the course of the suit become under sheriff of Lincoln he had, according to Gregg, persuaded the sheriff, Sir William Sandon, not to summon the witnesses for the prosecution. Both Foster and Sandon denied the charge and doubtless won the case. In 1552 or later Foster was himself a plaintiff in the Star Chamber where as bailiff and collector of royal rents he accused Edmund Hall, a servant of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and seven other aldermen of having appropriated the guild properties to their own use, leaving the grammar school, priests and poor of the foundation destitute.5
When in 1545 Boston received its first charter, through the offices of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Foster became the first town clerk. For the subsidy levied there in 1546 he was assessed to pay 26s.8d. on £20 in goods, figures well below the town’s highest ratings. His first contact with its representation in Parliament was his commissioning in January 1553 to settle with the widow of William Naunton the wages due for her husband’s Membership of the Parliament of 1547, but as this took place less than two weeks before his own election on 29 Jan. to its successor he may have been chosen already. According to the borough’s minute book Foster was elected ‘according to his request’, a phrase which might mean more than it says. That it did not imply Foster’s nomination by a patron appears from its omission in the case of his fellow-Member Leonard Irby, who was clearly a nominee of the 9th Lord Clinton’s, while the borough’s rejection on this occasion of Thomas Ogle, who probably had Cecil’s backing, may indicate its determination to retain control of one of the seats: in later years Foster was himself to be associated in property transactions with both Clinton and Sir Edward Dymoke, whose son married Clinton’s daughter, but there is nothing to connect him with Clinton as early as 1553. The phrase thus probably means that Foster undertook to serve without wages, as he is known to have done in three of the five succeeding Parliaments and presumably in the two others as well. His continued Membership answered to the Marian government’s call for the return of residents and perhaps also to its preference for Catholics. He was not among those who in the first Marian Parliament ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism, nor is he recorded as voting against one of the government’s bills in 1555; his abrupt and permanent disappearance from the parliamentary ranks under Elizabeth may not have been due solely to the advent of more influential candidates, and he continued to serve the borough and made his appearance in county administration.6
Foster was buried in Boston church on 1 Oct. 1573. His will, made three days earlier, was proved on 12 Oct. in the consistory court of Lincoln. He left to his widow and executrix a life interest in various properties, including his house and three tenements in Boston and two houses in Coningsby. His movable goods were valued for probate at £107 13s.6d., with debts of £17 5s.8d.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: T. M. Hofmann
- 1. Boston corp. min. bk. 1545-1607, f. 13v.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first certain reference. Grace Bk., Univ. Camb. ed. Searle, 250; Wards 7/6/95; Lincoln consist. ct. wills 1573, i. ff. 274v-7v.
- 3. St.Ch.2/16/219-22, 19/30; P. Thompson, Boston, 454, 459; CPR, 1563-6, p. 40; Lincoln Rec. Soc. liv, pp. lx, 96.
- 4. Lincoln Wills (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxviii), 144; Thompson, 200-1; LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xx, xxi; APC, iv. 181, 321; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 357, 361; 1553, p. 353; 1553-4, p. 431; 1554-5, p. 107; 1555-7, p. 163; 1557-8, pp. 67, 100, 157; 1563-6, pp. 395, 447, 400; Wards 7/12/67; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 136; St.Ch.2/16/219-22.
- 5. LP Hen. VIII, xi; St.Ch.2/16/219-22, 19/30.
- 6. Thompson, 454, 459; Boston corp. min. bk. 1545-1607, ff. 13-13v, 22, 29; CPR, 1555-7, pp. 87-88; 1560-3, p. 90; 1563-6, pp. 261, 426, 505; 1566-9, p. 104; E179/137/430.
- 7. Boston Par. Reg. (Lincoln Rec. Soc. par. reg. ser. i), 43, 107, 111; Lincoln consist. ct. wills 1573, i. ff. 274v-7v.