Forster William Edward
Forster, William Edward (1819-1886), was born at Bradford, and was educated at the Friends' School, Tottenham, then entered a woollen factory in his native town. In 1845, at the time of the Irish famine, he went over to distribute a relief fund raised by his co-religionists. In 1850 he married Miss Jane Arnold, the eldest daughter of Dr. Arnold of Rugby, and in 1861 he was returned to Parliament for Bradford. In 1865-66 he was Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and in 1868 he was made a Privy Councillor and Vice-President of the Committee on Education. In 1870 he entered the Cabinet, and produced his celebrated Elementary. Education Bill, which worked a revolution in English educational ideas. His refusal to abandon entirely the voluntary system began the estrangement between himself and the section of Radicals headed by Mr. Chamberlain, which lasted through the rest of his life. In 1872 he had cheirge of the Ballot Bill. In 1874, on Mr. Gladstone's retirement from the Liberal leadership, he was offered the post, but refused it. In the same year he ' visited the United States, and in the following year he was made Lord Rector of Aberdeen University. In 1880 he was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, and this appointment gradually led to a divergence of views between ' himself and his chief. Although he approved greatly of the idea of Imperial Federation, he was opposed to the granting Ireland a Parliament; and his being the instrument for carrying out a policy of coercion made him obnoxious to a large section of Irishmen. On the release of the Irish suspects in 1882 he resigned his post. He had narrowly escaped murder at the hands of the Irish Invin cibles. That his fellow-townsmen had confidence in him is shown by the fact of their electing him in his absence in 1885. He was a man of decided views and opinions and great firmness of character, and was respected by both sides of the House, and probably, except in moments of irritation, by his Irish opponents. A statue of him has been placed upon the Thames Embankment in memory of his educational work; and there is a life of him, in two volumes, by Sir Wemyss Reid.