Biography William Forster

William Forster

photo of William Forster
  • Time Period1818 - 1882
  • Place
  • CountryAustralia

Poet Biography

William Forster was born on October 16, 1818 in Madras, India, son of Thomas Forster, Army Surgeon in the British Army in India. He accompanied his parents when they were transferred back to Ireland in 1882, and there the young William began his first formal education. In 1829 the family again moved, to New South Wales. William completed his education in this country and showed two distinct leanings - Literature and Politics.

During the period 1834 - 1855 he selected land and farmed it, generally as a cattle grazier, although he spent some of his time in authorship of articles of a political nature to various publications in Sydney.

He also accompanied two expeditions of an exploratory nature seeking to know more of the land he had adopted as his home. The first expedition was to Port Phillip, whilst the second was a survey of the Clarence River area.

In 1848 he married Miss Eliza Jane Wall.

Politics evidently fascinated him, for although party politics were forming and the two opposing factions - Liberals and Conservatives were active. He ascribed to neither.

He was according to some writers of the day, a singularly dedicated independent, to the point of complete "pig headedness".

However, he had sufficient following to be elected to Parliament in 1856. It appears his chief interests were the disposal and occupation of lands of the State, and the formation of a Legislative Council.

With literally no party of adherents, Parliamentary loyalties were rather nebulous, and any leader had to have something special to obtain the loyalties of a house of what were changeable independents. In this system there were frequent "spills" and it was through one such that William Forster became Premier and Colonial Secretary over a period 1863 - 1865.

He tried to effect several bills relating to his chief interests, but through considerable dispute relative to methods of voting powers he lost the support of his followers and stepped down from the Premiership, stating that the downfall of his Parliament had been simply that as they "did not have a party and that he was obliged to depend upon the principal - upon mere measures - and it was found that the time had not yet come when a Government which did not depend upon personnel adherence's could stand."

He was Colonial Treasurer for 1875 - 78, then took a break from active politics over a period 1876 - 1879, the first two years he spent as agent general in London.

He re-entered Parliament upon his return to New South Wales, where he remained a member until his death on October 30, 1882. During his lifetime he wrote quite extensively, and is credited with publication of the The Wier-Wolf a tragedy (1876), The Brothers a drama (1878) Political Presentments, (1878) and Midas (1882).

Mr. Forster died on Oct 30, 1882