FORESTER, George (1735-1811), of Willey Park, Salop
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Family and Education
George Forester succeeded to his grandfather’s parliamentary seat in 1758, and replaced his father in 1768. In the three earliest division lists extant for the new Parliament, 27 Jan. and 2 and 3 Feb. 1769, all three on Wilkes, he appears on the Opposition side; and on 13 June, the common and burgess hall of Wenlock, having thanked their Members for their past conduct in the House, voted instructions to them2 which probably expressed the Members’ views at least as much as those of their constituents. They were asked to
promote and concur in all such measures as tend
1st. To preserve the electors of this realm the sole choice of their representatives in Parliament ...
2nd. To protect all the subjects of this realm from arbitrary and illegal seizure of their papers and imprisonment of their persons ...
3rd. To promote to the utmost frugality of the public treasure ...
4th. To restore the tranquility and promote the commerce of our American colonies by redressing their grievances in such a manner as to preserve in its full force the unquestionable control of the British Legislature over there.
5th. To preserve and extend the manufactures and commerce of this kingdom by reducing the present high price of provisions and taking off the additional duty on beer so severely felt by the industrious poor of this populous and extensive franchise.
Forester seems to have voted with Opposition whenever present, but appears only in two out of the ten division lists, March 1769-May 1774: on the Spanish convention, 13 Feb. 1771, and the royal marriage bill, 11 Mar. 1772. He also seems to have intervened in two debates during those early years: on 22 Jan. 1770, he expressed regret that Thomas Townshend jun. should have refused the Chair—‘an union of sentiments upon the present occasion might have been the occasion of an union that might have healed the present breaches and divisions’; and on 16 Feb. 1770, spoke in the debate of censure on the Speaker.3 No other speech by him is recorded during his 23 years in the House.
In the Parliament of 1774-80 Forester appears in none of the five division lists 1775-8, and over the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, is listed by Robinson as ‘contra, absent’; of the remaining six division lists, four name him. He did not stand at the general election of 1780. Six division lists are extant for the period between Forester’s re-entry in December 1780 and the fall of North: Forester voted in one division, possibly in a second,4 and was paired in three. Siding with Fox, he voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and for Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783; but supported Pitt over parliamentary reform, a non-party measure, 7 May 1783. He did not stand in 1784 when two Bridgemans, like him Foxites, were returned for Wenlock unopposed; so was he himself at the by-election of August 1785, at a total cost of £364, almost all on entertaining his constituents.5 He voted with Fox in the Regency crisis of 1788-9. In 1790 he retired in favour of his cousin and heir, Cecil Forester, son of Cecil Forester.
The English Chronicle wrote about George Forester in 1781 that he owed his repeated elections
to the general good opinion that is entertained of him by the electors, of his feelings and liberalities as a man, and his attention and ability as a magistrate. He is eminently distinguished for the two prescriptive characteristics of an English gentleman, an attachment to the chase, and a generous hospitality at the conclusion of it. ... These are qualities of no great importance as a senator; but in a period when it is fashionable to despise the old and respectable criteria of our national character, it is peculiarly pleasing to see an individual of consequence bold enough to deviate into ill-bred familiarity and antiquated hospitality.
He is credited with ‘a strong attachment to the fair sex’, of which there is ‘a variety of living witnesses’ in the country. Affluent and independent, he neither fears nor courts any minister.
He is a Whig in his principles, and so perfectly sincere in the vindication of his favourite tenets, ... that he would relinquish his dogs for freedom, and sacrifice even his strong beer (for which, by the by, he is famed beyond any modern competitor) to the rigid preservation of our most excellent constitution.
George Forester died 13 July 1811.