William Henry Foster 1846 - 1924

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William Henry Foster (9 April 1846– 9 March 1924) was an English Conservative Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1870 to 1885. He was originally elected as a Liberal but switched to the Conservatives before the 1880 election.

Foster was the son of William Orme Foster of Apley Park Shropshire and his wife Isabella Grazebrook, daughter of Henry Grazebrook of Liverpool. His father had been MP for South Staffordshire. Foster was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford. He was a Justice of the Peace (JP) and Deputy Lieutenant for Shropshire and a JP for Northamptonshire.

In February 1870 Foster was elected at a by-election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bridgnorth. He held the seat until the 1885 general election when it was replaced under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885.

Foster lived at Spratton Grange, Northampton. He was nominated in November 1891 for the post of High Sheriff of Shropshire for 1892, but was not appointed.

In 1874, Foster married Henrietta Grace Mahon, daughter of Henry Sandford Pakenham Mahon of Strokestown House, Roscommon. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on 7 March 1924, and William died two days later, on 9 March, aged 77.

County Express; Brierley Hill, Stourbridge, Kidderminster, and Dudley News 13 April 1867


Tuesday last Wollaston, a suburb Stourbridge, was made gay and lively by the celebration of the coming of age of Mr. William Henry Foster, the son of the member for South Staffordshire. The inhabitants of Wollaston did honour to the occasion in their own hearty fashion. Flags were displayed, schools were decorated and the Church bells rang merrily at intervals throughout the day. It was intended to present an address to Mr. Foster in the School room. The principal festival is to take place in Easter Week. The history the Foster family is the recent history of some of the most important incidents connected with the trade and prosperity of Stourbridge.
The firm of John Bradley and Co., in which Mr. W. O. Foster has the chief interest, dates back a half century and more. Mr. John Bradley carried on the manufacture of spade sand shovels at the works which Mr. Watkin now has at the bottom of High Street, Stourbridge, and Mr. James Foster, his half-brother we believe, was clerk in his office.
At the beginning of the present century the present ironworks on the west side of the town commenced, and after a time others, and others. Mr. James Foster was taken into partnership with Mr. Bradley about twenty or thirty years after the latter had been in business, and Mr. Foster appears to have entered into commercial pursuits with energy which rapidly developed the trade of the firm.
At the year of the old Reform agitation entered Parliament as member for Bridgnorth, but he only sat till the next election, when he abandoned the senate owing to his hearing not being good.
The Foster family came from Nantwich in Cheshire, and Mr. James Foster evidenced his interest in the place by presenting a costly inclosure for Nantwich Church before his death, which occurred about fifteen years ago. He was never married, and bequeathed the bulk of his wealth to his nephew, Mr. W. O. Foster. The personalty alone, was said to have amounted about £800,000, and there were estates in Ireland and England in addition.
Mr. W. O. Foster, a few years ago, erected a new church, schools, and parsonage, at Wollaston, where a number of his workmen reside, and the cost and endowment together came to about £20,000, all of which he defrayed himself. His connection with South Staffordshire as one of its Parliamentary representatives dates from 31st of March, 1857, when returned in conjunction with Mr. Foley. Mr. Foster has lately acquired a princely estate in Shropshire, at a cost of upwards of half- a- million. This is Apley Park, near Bridgnorth, the beauties which are highly spoken of. The house is built on the banks of the Severn, and is in the Gothic style. It is a magnificent mansion. The park well stocked with deer, and the charming nature of the scenery makes the place everything that could be desired.
A large assemblage had gathered in and around the Schoolroom prepared give Mr. W. H. Foster a cordial welcome.
The arrival of Mr. W. H. Foster and the friends who accompanied him was heralded by cheers without the building, which were heartily taken up in the interior so soon as he presented himself there. The friends of Mr. Foster having grouped themselves as to witness the proceedings, the Rev. G. Gilbanks, incumbent of Wollaston, said he had the honour of reading an address which the parishioners of Wollaston wished to present to Mr. Foster on his attaining his majority. Before doing so, he should like make one or two remarks explanatory of the proceedings of the day. Their programme was not elaborate as it might have been, if there had been more time for carrying out their wishes. There had not been such a spontaneous outburst unanimous feeling before in the place. They did not ask Mr. Foster to partake of their hospitality to eat salt with them, as the Easterns said, but believed they had resolved on that which would be more in accordance with the feelings of Mr. Foster and his parents, viz., give entertainment to the aged poor. It was a matter of very great regret them all that they had not the presence of Mr. William Orme Foster, the representative of South Staffordshire, on that occasion. They would all have been delighted see him, but his Parliamentary duties would not allow him to be at home, even on the occasion of his son coming his majority. Mr. Gilbanks then proceeded to read the following address to Mr. Foster, observing that it was a great pleasure to him to do so.:
“To William Henry Foster, Esq. We, the undersigned inhabitants of Wollaston, in the county of Worcester, desire most heartily to congratulate you on the attainment of your twenty-first birth-day. We beg you to accept assurance of our deep interest in your welfare and happiness, and our hearty good wishes for the prosperity of your future career. It is to few that so brilliant a prospect is opened. In addition to being heir to ample wealth, you will succeed to the still better inheritance of a name respected and beloved for the sake of the good deeds and admirable qualities of those who have borne it before you. We sincerely hope and trust that the same sentiments of honour, the same integrity of purpose, and the same noble liberality which have so pre-eminently characterised those who proceeded you will continue to make that name yet more honoured and beloved. On our affectionate gratitude you have an especial claim as the son of one to whose bounty we owe our beautiful church and spacious schools. We would take this opportunity of expressing to your father how highly we appreciate his munificence, not only in this respect, but also as displayed on all occasions when works of permanent utility in this neighbourhood have called forth his benevolence. We would farther venture to offer a tribute respect your highly esteemed mother. In her we see practically exemplified those high qualities and virtues which so essentially constitute the perfect character of English gentlewoman. Indeed the memory of both your parents will ever be identified in the minds of the parishioners of Wollaston with all that tends to the moral and material welfare of people. With every wish for your happiness and prosperity, we are, with all respect, yours, &c.”
Mr. W. H. Foster said he could hardly find words express to them how highly he appreciated the kind feeling which had prompted them to invite him there, and to present him with that testimony of their esteem and good will. He should always remember it a pledge of their interest in his welfare. They reminded him that he would have duties to perform and a name to uphold; and would be his earnest endeavour to prove himself worthy of that name, and also of the honour they had done him that day. (Cheers.) He was very sorry his father was unavoidably prevented being there; but, in his name, and that of his mother, most cordially thanked them for their expressions of esteem. Although soon about leave that neighbourhood, hoped he might never be considered a stranger; and, when revisited that spot should be sure of receiving a cordial and friendly welcome. (Cheers.) He again thanked them for their congratulations, and wished them long life and prosperity. The Rev. G. Gilbanks said he had another offering to make to Mr. W. H. Foster. He had been deputed by the children and teachers of that school to present to him an address, not penned by human hand, but the address of their Heavenly Father to his erring creatures. Not only the present teachers and scholars, but many of those who had left, had subscribed together and bought the beautiful volume before him, the rules contained in which would, he hoped, continue to be the guiding star his conduct. They were not attempting to vie with their neighbours who were more well-to-do than they were but what they were doing was the simple effort of the inhabitants of an English village to render honour to whom honour was due, and to pay tribute of respect to a family which richly deserved it. It was not often in that neighbourhood they had an opportunity seeing so much done by those who were able do it. They knew that to most minds the acquisition wealth became a snare, and those who had much desired to have more, but in this instance they found the wealth God had blessed their friend and neighbour with was dispensed for the improvement and happiness of those not so favoured. In their address just presented they had made no allusion to the acquisition of that noble property which Mr. Foster had lately purchased, but he thought he might say they were all heartily glad that one so worthy was the possessor of so noble a domain—(cheers) —and they offered on that occasion their hearts congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Foster and their family, and hoped long life would pertain to all of them, and that future generations might look back to the testimonials offered to Mr. Foster and his family, and see the esteem in which they were held by those who lived in their own time. (Cheers.) Mr. Foster said was quite taken by surprise by that beautiful present, and he could scarcely sufficiently thank the teachers and children of the schools for it. He should always value the gift, both for its own sake and for that of the givers, whom be again thanked. (Cheers.)
Cheers were then given for young Mr. Foster, Mr. and Mrs. W. O. Foster, and for the Royal Family. The address was beautifully illuminated by Mr. James Allsop, jun., and was much admired. At the top was Mr. Foster’s coat of arms, with the motto “Excitari, non hebescere.” The Bible presented Mr. Foster was a splendid edition, and was bound in a handsome cover, the inside of which contained a short inscription.
After the ceremony was over, the old people of the hamlet, to the number of about sixty, sat down to dinner in the schools. In the evening there was to a ball for the servants at Stourton Castle.
On Easter Monday the inhabitants of Stourbridge present an address to Mr. Foster, and the ceremony, which takes place at the Corn Exchange, to be followed by dinner the Talbot Hotel, at which Mr. W. O. Foster, M.P., and his son, will present.
On Easter Tuesday all the workpeople are to have an entertainment. Those from the Stourbridge, Shutt End, Brockmoor, and Brierley works will walk in procession to Stourton, where lunch will be supplied to them. They afterwards return to their respective neighbourhoods, where dinner will be provided for them. The Stourbridge men will dine in the Market Hall. The Shutt End workmen number between 800 and 900, the Stourbridge about 600 and those at Brockmoor and Brierley from 600 to 700 collectively. Mr. Foster has also works at Eardington and’ Hampton's Load, where about 300 people are employed; Madeley, where there are about 500 engaged at the blast furnaces and collieries belonging to him; and Ironbridge, where he has ironstone collieries. The workpeople in these localities are also to have entertainment.

Western Daily Press 13 May 1924

Mr William Henry Foster, of Apley Park, Bridgnorth, Salop. Conservative M.P. for Bridgnorth 1870-1885, left £1,250,000. He gave nearly £4,000 to chanty.

Banbury Advertiser 22 May 1924



Mr. William Henry Foster, of Apley Park. Bridgnorth. Salop, and of Spratton Grange, Northampton, who died on March 9th last, aged 78 years, has left unsettled estate of the value of £1,250,000 with net personalty of the same amount.

The will, dated October 19th. 1922, is proved by his son. Major Arthur Wm. Foster, late Royal Horse Guards, of Apley Park, and Capt. James Foster, brother, of Woodcote Hall, Newport, Salop. The testator gives £1000 to the infirmary of Bridgnorth, £500 to the Shrewsbury Infirmary. £300 to the Northampton Infirmary. £300 to the Midland Counties’ Home for Incurables, Leamington, £300 to the London Orphan Asylum,  £300 to the Blind Pensions Society, £300 to United Kingdom Beneficent Society, £300 to St. John’s Foundation School for Sons of the Clergy. £300 to the Governors’ Benevolent Institution, £300 to Wolverhampton Orphanage.

He also left £500 to Richard Lowndes, manager of the Stourbridge Works; £500 to William Otway Wilson, agent; £500 to Howard W. Pearce, secretary; £300 to Thos. Henson, butler; £300 to Alfred Wheeler, gardener: annuity of £150 to Miss Louisa Russell Earle, formerly governess to his daughters; £500 to his brother James; £2.000 to each of his grandchildren; £150 year to Selina Emily Pearce; annuity of £200 to Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Lyttelton-Annesley; an annuity of £80 to Miss Henrietta T. Whittaker; and an annuity of £150 to Miss Kathleen Bathurst. To his wife he left £20.000, his motor-cars, horses, and carriages, and an annuity of £2000 addition to the jointure, which she will receive under the settlement of the family property, and the use for life of Spratton Grange, or additional £6000 should such property be sold. The residue of his property he leaves to his son Arthur William.

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