William Edward Forster

William Edward Forster



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William Edward Forster, the only son of William Forster, a Minister of the Society of Friends, was born in Bradpole, Dorset, in 1819. Forster was a passionate social reformer and was an active member of the Anti-Slavery Society.

After receiving a Quaker education in Bristol and London, Forster trained as a lawyer. Forster took a keen interest in politics and was friendly with several well-known radicals, including Robert Owen, Thomas Cooper and F.D. Maurice. In 1835 Forster changed careers and entered the wool trade. Six years later Forster became a partner in the woollen business in Bradford.

Forster left the Society of Friends when he married Jane Arnold, the eldest daughter of Thomas Arnold, in 1850. An active member of the Liberal Party, Forster was elected MP for Bradford in 1861. Four years after entering Parliament, Forster became Under Secretary for the Colonies under Earl Russell.

Following the 1868 General Election, William Gladstone appointed Forster as Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education. Forster therefore had responsibility for carrying through the House of Commons the 1870 Education Act. When Forster introduced the bill on 17th February 1870, he pointed out he was not doing away with existing schools, but helping to add schools in those areas where they were in short supply. In Forster's words: "to fill up its gaps at least cost of public money".

As a result of Forster's Education Act, School Boards were given the power to examine the provision of elementary education in their district, provided then by Voluntary Societies, and if there were not enough school places, they could build and maintain schools out of the rates. The main opposition for these measures came from members of Forster's own Liberal Party, who argued that education should be compulsory, secular and free.

In 1880 Forster became chief secretary for Ireland. He was constantly criticised by Irish MPs in the House of Commons and his life was threatened when he introduced measures to deal with Irish rebels. When the majority of Gladstone's cabinet decided in April 1882 that the Irish leaders should be released from prison, Forster resigned from office. William Forster remained a strong opponent of Irish Home Rule until his death in 1886.


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Life of the Right Honourable William Edward Forster, Vol. 1 of 2 (Classic Reprint)

Almost from the beginning of his ministry he began to distinguish himself by the number and the success of the missions or preaching.

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This book is a reproduction of an im Excerpt from Life of the Right Honourable William Edward Forster, Vol. 1 of 2

Almost from the beginning of his ministry he began to distinguish himself by the number and the success of the missions or preaching.

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This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works. . more


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The New International Encyclopædia/Forster, William Edward

Edition of 1906. See also William Edward Forster on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

FORSTER, William Edward (1818-86). An English statesman, the only son of William Forster, the Quaker missionary. He was born at Bradpole, Dorsetshire, was educated in Friends' schools at Bristol and Tottenham, and entered the woolen business at Bradford in 1841, where in the following year he formed a partnership with William Fison in that business, which continued to the end of his life. In 1861 he was elected from Bradford to the House of Commons, and continued to hold his seat by successive reëlections until his death. Forster at once took a prominent part in Parliamentary debates, and came to be looked upon as one of the principal leaders of the advanced Liberals. Ho took every opportunity of speaking on the question of the reform of the suffrage, and on the outbreak of the Civil War in America, with Cobden and Bright, earnestly opposed every attempt to recognize the Confederacy, and denounced the Government's action in permitting vessels of the Alabama type to be built and fitted out in English ports. In 1865 he became Under-Secretary for the Colonies in Lord Russell's Ministry, and in 1868 was appointed by Gladstone vice-president of the Council on Education and a Privy Councilor. In 1869, in spite of opposition from Radicals both in the Church of England and among Dissenters, he secured the passage of the Endowed Schools Bill, and in 1870 introduced the most famous legislative measure connected with his name, the Elementary Education Bill, which is the foundation of the existing national system of education in England. In 1872 he introduced and piloted through the House of Commons the Ballot Bill. In the Gladstone Ministry of 1880, against his own inclination, he accepted the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland. During the winter of 1881-82 several attempts were made on Forster's life by the ‘Invincibles,’ but he remained resolutely at his post. When, however, in May, 1882, a majority of the Cabinet determined upon the release of Parnell and the other imprisoned leaders, Forster and Lord Cowper, the Lord Lieutenant, who protested against such action, resigned. Although Forster continued to take part in the debates in Parliament, and was reëlected as a Liberal by his constituents in November, 1885, he acted on many questions independently of his party, and was opposed to the Gladstone Home Rule programme. Consult Reid, Life of the Right Hon. W. E. Forster (5th ed., London, 1889).


William Edward Forster

William Edward Forster (July 11, 1818 - April 6, 1886), British statesman, was born of Quaker parents at Bradpole in Dorsetshire.

He was educated at the Friends' school at Tottenham, where his father's family had long been settled, and on leaving school he was put into business. He declined to enter a brewery and became involved in woollen manufacture in a large way at Bradford, Yorkshire.

In 1850 he married Jane Martha, eldest daughter of Dr Arnold. She was not a Quaker, and her husband was formally excommunicated for marrying her, but the Friends who were commissioned to announce the sentence "shook hands and stayed to luncheon." Forster thereafter ranked himself as a member of the Church of England. The Forsters had no natural children, but when Mrs. Forster's brother, William Arnold, died in 1859, leaving four orphans, the Forsters adopted them as their own. (One of these children was Hugh Oakeley Arnold-Forster, a Liberal Unionist member of parliament, who eventually became a member of Arthur Balfour's cabinet.)

Forster became known as a practical philanthropist early. In 1846-1847 he accompanied his father to Ireland as distributor of the Friends' relief fund for the famine in Connemara, and the state of the country made a deep impression on him. He gradually began to take an active part in public affairs by speaking and lecturing. In 1859 he stood as Liberal candidate for Leeds, but was beaten. But he was highly esteemed in the West Riding, and in 1861 he was returned unopposed for Bradford. In 1865 (unopposed) and in 1868 (at the head of the poll) he was again returned.

He took a prominent part in parliament in the debates on the American Civil War, and in 1868 was made undersecretary for the colonies in John Russell, 1st Earl Russell's ministry. It was then that he first became a prominent advocate of imperial federation. In 1866 his attitude on parliamentary reform attracted a good deal of attention.

Directly after the Reform Bill had passed, Forster and Edward Cardwell brought in Education Bills in 1867 and 1868 and in 1868, when the Liberal party returned to office, Forster was appointed vice-president of the council, with the duty of preparing a government measure for national education. The Elementary Education Bill was introduced on February 17, 1870. The religious difficulty at once came to the front. The Manchester Education Union and the Birmingham Education League had already formulated in the provinces the two opposing theories, the former standing for the preservation of denominational interests, the latter advocating secular rate-aided education as the only means of protecting Nonconformity against the Church.

The Dissenters were by no means satisfied with Forster's "conscience clause" as contained in the bill, and they regarded him, the ex-Quaker, as a deserter from their own side while they resented the "25th clause," permitting school boards to pay the fees of needy children at denominational schools out of the rates, as an insidious attack upon themselves, By March 14, when the second reading came on, the controversy had assumed threatening proportions and Mr Dixon, the Liberal member for Birmingham and chairman of the Education League, moved an amendment, the effect of which was to prohibit all religious education in board schools. The government made its rejection a question of confidence, and the amendment was withdrawn but the result was the insertion of the Cowper-Temple clause as a compromise before the bill passed. The bill of 1870, imperfect as it was, established at last some approach to a system of national education in England.

Forster's next important work was in passing the Ballot Act of 1872. In 1874 he was again returned for Bradford. In 1875, when Gladstone "retired," Forster was strongly supported for the leadership of the Liberal party, but declined to be nominated. In the same year he was elected to the Royal Society, and made Lord Rector of Aberdeen University.

In 1876, when the Eastern question was looming large, he visited Serbia and Turkey, and his subsequent speeches on the subject were marked by moderation. On Gladstone's return to office in 1880 he was made chief secretary for Ireland. He carried the Compensation for Disturbance Bill through the Commons, only to see it thrown out in the Lords. On January 24, 1881 he introduced a new Coercion Bill in the House of Commons, to deal with the growth of the Land League, and in the course of his speech declared it to be "the most painful duty" he had ever had to perform. The bill passed, among its provisions being one enabling the Irish government to arrest without trial persons "reasonably suspected" of crime and conspiracy.

The Irish party used every opportunity to oppose this act, and Forster was kept constantly on the move between Dublin and London, conducting his campaign and defending it in the House of Commons. He was nicknamed "Buckshot" by the Nationalist press, on the supposition that he had ordered its use by the police when firing on a crowd. On October 13 Charles Stewart Parnell was arrested, and soon after the Land League was proclaimed. From that time Forster's life was in danger, and he had to be escorted by mounted police in Dublin. Several plans to murder him were frustrated by the merest accidents.

On May 2, Gladstone announced that the government intended to release Parnell and his fellow-prisoners in Kilmainham, and that both Lord Cowper and Forster had in consequence resigned and the following Saturday Forster's successor, Lord Frederick Cavendish, was murdered in Phoenix Park.

During the remaining years of his life, Forster's political record covered various interesting subjects, but his efforts in Ireland threw them all into shadow. He died on the eve of the introduction of the Home Rule Bill, to which he was completely opposed.


Synopsis of the Forster Education Act 1870

The Elementary Education Act of 1870 was the first of a number of acts of parliament passed between 1870 and 1893 to create compulsory education in England and Wales for children aged between five and 13. It was known as The Forster Act after its sponsor William Forster.

What did the act bring into force?

  • That local education boards should inspect schools to ensure there were sufficient places.
  • That elementary education must be provided for children aged between five and 13.
  • That schools should be publicly funded.
  • That parents had to pay for their children&rsquos eductation, unless they could not afford to.
  • That attendance should be compulsory.
  • That religious teaching should be non-denominational, and that parents could withdraw their children from religious education.
  • That schools should be regularly inspected to maintain the standard of education.

What problems were encountered during the passing of the act?

The areas that caused controversy were the provision of religious education and the public subsidy. Some people wanted specific schools that would promote denominational education, while the established church feared its power to run schools would be lost. Some were fearful of the idea of mass education, others felt that state subsidy for education was threatening. The act retained the requirement for parents to pay fees when they could afford to, and for the state to pay for those who could not. Religious instruction was retained but didn&rsquot favour any one Christian group over another.


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William Edward Forster

William Edward Forster, född 11 juli 1818, död 6 april 1886, var en brittisk politiker.

Forster började son bana som textilfabrikör med drevs av starka allmänna och filantropiska intressen in i politiken och blev 1861 liberal medlem av underhuset. 1865 blev han undersekreterare för kolonierna i Russels regering. Hans kamp för rösträttens och folkundervisningens utvidgning till nya klasser gav honom en uppmärksammad ställning, och 1868 erhöll han en post i Gladstones regering, närmast med uppgift att reformera skolväsendet. Forsters skolreformförslag 1870 genomdrevs i något reviderat skick men skapade en mycket stark opposition. När Gladstone 1875 drog sig tillbaka från ledningen av liberala partiet, var Forster starkt ifrågasatt att bli hans efterträdare. I Gladstones andra regering blev Forster minister för Irland, just som detta land orsakade Storbritannien stora svårigheter. Då Gladstones ministär frigav Charles Stewart Parnell och andra som fängslats för sin delaktighet i de irländska oroligheterna, lämnade Forster sin post och regeringen. När Gladstone 1886 accepterat Home rule-programmet för Irland, motsatte sig Forster detta med all kraft. Klyftan hade då redan i andra frågor fördjupats mellan Gladstones mera frihetsvänliga och Forsters mera imperialistiskt betonade liberalism.


Bible Encyclopedias

Statesman, born at Bradpole, Dorset, son of a Quaker entered upon a commercial career in a worsted manufactory at Bradford, but from the first politics engaged his paramount attention, and in 1861 he became member of Parliament for Bradford became in succession Under-Secretary for the Colonies, Vice-president of the Council of Education, and a Privy Councillor his chief legislative measure was the Elementary Education Bill of 1870, which, as a member of Mr. Gladstone's Cabinet, he carried through Parliament, two years after which the Ballot Act was introduced by him in 1874 he visited the United States, and on his return was elected Lord Rector of Aberdeen University as Irish Secretary in 1880 he made an earnest effort to grapple with the Irish problem, but losing the support of his colleagues, over the imprisonment of Mr. Parnell and other Land League leaders, he resigned he was married to Jane, eldest daughter of Dr. Arnold of Rugby his transparent honesty and rugged independence of character won him universal esteem (1819-1886).


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