Forster, William Edward

Forster, William Edward

Forster, William Edward, 1818-86, British statesman. He entered Parliament as a Liberal in 1861. As vice president of the council in William Gladstone's first ministry (1868-74), he introduced the Elementary Education Act (1870), which provided aid for existing schools, established supplementary nondenominational "board schools," and was the foundation for the English system of national compulsory education. In 1880 he went unwillingly to Ireland as chief secretary, but his opposition to Charles Parnell and his stern enforcement of the law made him so unpopular that attempts were made on his life. He resigned in 1882.
Rt.Hon.Hugh Oakeley Arnold-Forster PC (19 August 1855-12 March 1909) was a British politician.


He was the son of William Delafield Arnold, Director of Public Instruction in the Punjab, and grandson of Thomas Arnold of Rugby. When his father died in 1859, he was adopted by William Edward Forster and his wife Jane, who was his father's sister.

He married Mary Lucy Story-Maskelyne (1861-1951), daughter of Nevil Story Maskelyne, in 1885. They had four sons, of whom his Times obituary states "the eldest is just beginning to practise as an artist, and the youngest is a naval cadet." They were :


He was educated at Rugby and University College, Oxford, from which he graduated with 1st Class Honours. He was called to the bar in 1879. He acted as private secretary to his adoptive father, who became Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1880. He joined Cassell & Co. in 1885, for whom he prepared educational manuals, including the "Citizen Reader" series. He was secretary of the Imperial Federation League from 1884.

He was Liberal Unionist Member of Parliament for West Belfast from 1892-1906 and Unionist member for Croydon from 1906 until his death.

He served in Government as Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty from 1900-1903 and as Secretary of State for War from 1903-1905, during which time he reorganized the War Office (see Esher Report).

He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1903.


His publications included

  • How to Solve the Irish Land Question
  • The Citizen Reader
  • The Laws of Everyday Life
  • This World of Ours
  • In a Conning Tower
  • Things New and Old
  • Our Home Army
  • A History of England
  • Army Letters
  • The Coming of the Kilogram
  • Our Great City
  • The Army in 1906: a Policy and a Vindication
  • English Socialism of To-Day.


  • Vanda Morton : Oxford rebels : the life and friends of Nevil Story Maskelyne 1823-1911 : pioneer Oxford scientist, photographer and politician, 1987 ISBN 0-86299-456-X


  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  • Who Was Who

Search another word or see Forster, William Edwardon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature