The Lord Oriel
|Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland|
30 April 1807 – 1811
|Prime Minister||The Duke of Portland|
|Preceded by||Sir John Newport, Bt|
|Succeeded by||William Wellesley-Pole|
|Speaker of the Irish House of Commons|
|Preceded by||Edmund Pery|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
(Cathal Brugha as Ceann Comhairle)
|Died||23 August 1828 (aged 87–88)|
|Spouse(s)||Margaretta Amelia Foster|
He was the son of Anthony Foster of Dunleer, Louth, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer (himself the son of John Foster, MP for Dunleer) by his first wife Elizabeth Burgh. Foster lived in Merville, now part of the University College Dublin Campus in Clonskeagh, which came into his ownership in 1778. He also inherited Collon House in County Louth from his father, and made extensive improvements to the house and grounds; Collon was famous for its variety of trees and shrubs.
He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) to the Irish House of Commons for Dunleer in 1761, a seat he held until 1769. He made his mark in financial and commercial questions, being appointed Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1784. His law giving bounties on the exportation of corn and imposing heavy taxes on its importation is noted by William Lecky as being largely responsible for making Ireland an arable instead of a pasture country. In 1785 he became the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.
In 1768, Foster was elected for Navan and in 1783 for Sligo Borough. Both times he had also stood for Louth, which constituency he then chose to represent. He held this seat until the Act of Union in 1801, which he opposed. From 1785 to 1800 he was Speaker of the Irish Parliament.
It was said by his critics that his opposition to the Union was less political than personal: summoned to London for consultations, he found himself treated with contempt by the English officials he dealt with, who mocked his broad Irish accent and called him "Mister Spaker". On returning to Ireland he launched a campaign of opposition to the Union. He ultimately refused to surrender the Speaker's mace, which was kept by his family and is now on display in the Parliament House, Dublin, now the Bank of Ireland.
Foster was returned in 1801 to the new United Kingdom parliament as a member for County Louth, and from 1804 to 1806 was Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer under Pitt. From 1807 to 1813 he was second Commissioner in the Irish Treasury and from 1807 to 1812 one of the Lord Commissioners of the UK Treasury.
In 1821 he was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Oriel, of Ferrard, in the County of Louth, and died on 23 August 1828.
In 1764 he married Margaretta Amelia Burgh, daughter of Thomas Burgh) , MP for Lanesborough, and his wife Anne Downes, daughter of Dive Downes, Bishop of Cork and Ross. John and Margaretta had two sons and a daughter.
His wife (d. 1824) had in 1790 been created an Irish peeress, as Baroness Oriel, and in 1797 Viscountess Ferrard. Their younger son, Thomas Henry (1772–1843), who married Harriet Skeffington, Viscountess Massereene in her own right, and took the name of Skeffington, inherited all these titles; the later Viscounts Massereene being their descendants.
John and Margaretta also had a daughter, Anne, who married James Blackwood, 2nd Baron Dufferin, but had no children.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Oriel, John Foster, Baron". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Biography and letters
APW Malcomson: "John Foster: The politics of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy" ISBN 0-19-920087-4, 504 pages, 1978 Oxford: Oxford University Press APW Malcomson: *An Anglo-Irish Dialogue: A Calendar of the Correspondence between John Foster and Lord Sheffield 1774-1821" ISBN 0-905691-00-8, 102 pages, 1975 Belfast: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland