FORESTER, Francis (1774-1861), of Somerby House, Melton Mowbray, Leics. and 20 Sackville Street, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 19 Aug. 1774, 5th s. of Lt.-Col. Cecil Forester† (d. 1774) of Ross Hall, nr. Shrewsbury, Salop and Anne, da. and coh. of Robert Townshend of Christleton, Cheshire; bro. of Cecil Forester† (afterwards Weld Forester). m. 22 July 1813, Lady Louisa Catherine Barbara Vane, da. of William Henry Vane†, 2nd earl of Darlington, 1s. 2da. d. 22 Oct. 1861.
Lt. 95 Ft. 1793, capt. 1794; capt. 46 Ft. 1796; capt. 15 Drag. Gds. 1799, maj. 1803.
Frank Forester, who was only three days old when his father died, was a cousin of George Forester† of Dothill and Willey Park, which his eldest brother Cecil, a personal friend of George IV as regent, inherited in 1811, giving him a controlling interest in the borough of Wenlock.1 He was educated locally with John Cressett Pelham*,2 whose love of hunting he shared, and was a founder member of the ‘Four-in-Hand Club’.3 Until he married a daughter of the wealthy Whig peer Lord Darlington, he pursued a military career, becoming a major in the cavalry, with whom he served in Portugal in 1808 and 1809, when they were defeated at Sahagun and Benevente and retreated to Corunna. At the general election of 1820 he came in for Wenlock for a single Parliament to replace Cecil, who retired in anticipation of a peerage, and whose sons were not yet of age.4 The arrangement aroused little opposition, and the contest was for Wenlock’s second seat.5 Forester topped the poll throughout and said little of politics, but he expressed concern on the hustings for the depressed state of agriculture.6 Afterwards, he was drawn into the local controversy concerning the votes cast at the election by Darlington’s tenants.7
No speeches by Foster are reported and he appears to have been a poor attender who divided with the Liverpool ministry and against Catholic relief.8 The death of his wife, 8 Jan. 1821, was a factor in his apparent failure to vote on the Queen Caroline case.9 Darlington had voted against proceeding with it and signed the Lords’ protest; but, despite early misgivings, Forester’s brother, whose hopes of taking the title Baron Wenlock had suffered a setback, was anxious to demonstrate support for George IV.10 Forester divided with government against the additional malt duty repeal bill, 3 Apr., to include arrears in the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June, on retrenchment, 27 June 1821, and against more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11 Feb., and abolishing one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He voted against Catholic relief, which his brother the Rev. Townshend Forester, rector of Brosely and bailiff of Wenlock, vehemently opposed, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825.11 He divided against inquiry into the lord advocate’s treatment of the Scottish press, 25 June 1822, and in the ministerial majorities against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiry into the currency, 12 June 1823. He presented petitions from Wenlock against the hides and skins bill, 3 May, and the excise license duty, 6 May 1824.12 His vote for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 10 June 1825, was the last recorded for him before he made way for his nephew at the dissolution that month.13
In later life Forester let Somerby House and lived mainly in London, where he died, recalled as a sportsman, at his home in St. James’s Place in October 1861. He left everything to his only son William Henry Forester (1819-91), who already received £4,000 a year under the will of his maternal grandfather the 1st duke of Cleveland.14
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. G.T.O. Bridgeman, ‘Some Account of Fam. of Forester’, Trans. Salop Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. (ser. 2), iii (1891), 151-84; J.D. Nichol, ‘Wynnstay, Willey and Wenlock’, ibid. lviii (1965-8), 220-33; HP Commons, 1754-90, ii. 450-1; HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 790-1.
- 2. Shrewsbury Chron. 10 Mar. 1820.
- 3. Gronow Reminiscences, ii. 109.
- 4. Bridgeman, 177-83; H.T. Weyman, ‘Members of Parliament for Wenlock’, Trans. Salop. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. (ser. 3), ii (1902), 350-2.
- 5. Weld-Forester mss, box 337, Procs. at Wenlock election, corresp. C. Weld Forester and Sir W. Williams Wynn, 25, 26, 28 Feb., R. Acton to C. Weld Forester, 1 Mar. 1820; VCH Salop, iii. 296-7; Nichol, 230-1.
- 6. Shrewsbury Chron. 25 Feb., 10 Mar. 1820.
- 7. Weld-Forester mss, box 337, J. Scarth to C.W. Forester, 15 July 1820.
- 8. Black Bk. (1823), 156.
- 9. Gent. Mag. (1821), i. 186.
- 10. Weld-Forester mss 37/50-53; 332/144; Hull Univ. Lib. Forbes Adams mss DDFA/39/45, R. to B. Lawley, 14 July, 9 Aug., 26 Dec.; Add. 38369, f. 332; Shrewsbury Chron. 8 Dec. 1820.
- 11. Weld-Forester mss 332/180.
- 12. The Times, 4, 7 May 1824.
- 13. Weld-Forester mss 37/161, 165; Salop Archives, Blakemore mss 604, box 8, Lord Forester’s letterbk. pp. 116-22; Salopian Jnl. 17 May 1826.
- 14. PROB 11/1960/243; Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 25 Oct.; Gent. Mag. (1861), ii. 693.