Tag Archives: Halesworth

Thomas Forster

A certain amount of mystery and confusion surrounds the Rev. Thomas Forster (?—1785), Rector of Halesworth in Suffolk. Venn’s Alumni Cantabrigienses has him born around 1708, coming from Durham, attending Queens’ College, ordained priest in 1735, and “perhaps” Vicar of Tunstead and Rector of Halesworth. The CCED is more cautious, listing two Thomas Forster’s as Rector of Halesworth, but noting that they are possibly not the same. In fact, the Durham Thomas Forster was the son of Rev. Joseph Forster of Norton in County Durham and died in 1743 at the age of 35.

Our Thomas Forster must be the other one (CCED #125060), about whom less is known. Although the CCED doesn’t give a Venn reference for this chap, he is presumably the Thomas born around 1722 who was son of George Forster (or Foster) of Barbados and one of three sons sent to Cambridge. This 1722 Thomas was ordained priest in 1746 and promptly appointed Vicar of Tunstead and, later the same year, Rector of Halesworth.

Thomas held Tunstead for thirty years before turning it over to his son Samuel, and was Rector of Halesworth until he died. I think. One complication is an advertisement in the Ipswich Journal for 10 August 1765 for an auction of “All the entire Houshold Furniture, and other valuable Effects of the Rev. Mr. Forster, at the Rectory in Halesworth…” We shall cheerfully assume he sold off all his belongings, including “a vertical Harpsicord of curious Construction, a reflecting and refracting Telescope, a Wilson microscope” etc. on a whim and press on.

Thomas Forster married Elizabeth Thompson of Southwold and they had at least four children who survived to adulthood. The eldest, Thompson Forster was an “eminent surgeon”. Samuel was the second son and went on to be Headmaster of Norwich Grammar School as well as Rector of Shotley. The third son, John, was also a clergyman. A daughter, Elizabeth, married Edward Berry in 1766 in London. Berry was apparently a merchant who generated a large family and then promptly died leaving a poor widow and numerous progeny. Their son, Edward Berry, joined the Navy and rose to become an admiral, being captain of Nelson’s flagship, the Vanguard, at the Battle of the Nile. Beforehand, he had recently married his cousin Louisa, daughter of Samuel Forster.

Thomas Forster wrote a couple of tracts on religious doctrine and had a collection of sermons published. In 1766, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the citation reading,

Thomas Forster Clerk, Rector of Halesworth in the County of Suffolk, being desirous of the Honor of Election into the Royal Society: We the underwritten recommend him on our personal knowledge, as a Gentleman well versed in several Branches of Literature, likely to be a useful member of the Society, & deserving that Honor,

although he does not appear to have done anything very noteworthy at the Society. In 1767, he was one of the proposers for Joshua Kirby’s election.

Joshua Kirby, F.R.S.

Joshua Kirby was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 26 March 1767. His election card is now, as the Royal Society says on its web page, barely legible, but they do manage a transcription of his citation:

Joshua Kirby of Kew in the County of Surry [sic] Esq. Designer in Perspective to their Majesties, & Author of Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective made easy, &c & of other considerable Improvements in that Science, being very desirous of the honor of Election into the Royal Society; We whose names are underwritten, recommend him on our personal Knowledge, as a Gentleman likely to prove a useful Member

How useful a member he was is unclear, as he seems to have had little to do with the Society, although he did sponsor two Fellows, Andrew Joseph Planta, and John Lodge Cowley. Kirby himself was proposed by:

 

Samuel Pallant

Samuel Pallant was an Ipswich lawyer who subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. As far as I can discover, this was the only book to which he subscribed.

A Samuel Pallant was articled to Robert Hamby in 1738.  Pallant’s name appeared regularly in the Ipswich Journal acting as a letting or sales agent for a variety of (often substantial) farms, pubs, and houses from 1742 onwards for twenty years. Making a few heroic assumptions, he was probably a son of the Samuel Pallant who married Elizabeth Newson in April 1713. Samuel Pallant the father is then most likely the voter from Halesworth in the 1727 poll. In 1743, Samuel Pallant advertises a stand of timber available from his land in Halesworth, then in 1748 he advertises a cattle fair there for the benefit of farmers from Norfolk, where fairs were banned because of ‘distemper’ among the cattle. Finally, in 1749, Rook-Yard farm in Halesworth, “now in the occupation of Samuel Pallant” for an annual rent of £110, was advertised to let. It seems likely that the father farmed the land in Halesworth and the son was an attorney in Ipswich, living on Brook Street.

The younger Samuel Pallant married Elizabeth Starling in 1739 before she died in 1743, possibly in childbirth. He then married Mary Hammond, a widow of Ipswich. A John Pallant, son of Samuel of Ipswich, was apprenticed in 1767, which presumably would make him a child of the second marriage. Of other children I know nothing, although a Samuel Pallant was articled to Samuel in 1756, and a Richard in 1762.

Unqualitied Persons

Since we are on the subject of Alexander Bence, I reproduce below a legal notice from the Ipswich Journal of January 1748 on the protection of game in Suffolk. It well illustrates the interconnections between the gentry and better-off people in the fairly small world of the Suffolk countryside, shows the social gulf between classes, and is the first time I met the term “unqualitied persons”. It is also worth noting that no less than ten of the people named in the notice were Kirby subscribers (I have put their names in bold).

Whereas the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Hereford, Sir Robert Kemp, Bart. Sir John Rous, Bart. Sir Charles Blois, Bart. Alexander Bence, Esq; John Rush, Esq; Charles Scrivener, Esq; Reginald Rabett, Esq; Nicholas Jacob, Esq; Thomas World, Esq; John Damer, Esq; Dudley North, Esq; Charles Long, Esq; Thomas Gooch, Esq; Philip Bewster, Esq; and others, have entered into an Agreement and Subscription for the Preservation of the GAME within the Hundreds of Blything, Wangford, Plomsgate and Hoxne, in the County of Suffolk; and for prosecuting by Action, Information, or otherwise such unquality’d as shall offend against all or any of the Statutes made for Preservation of the Game: And by such their Agreement have appointed Peter Pullyn, of Halesworth in the said County, their Attorney and Sollicitor for the Purposes in the said Agreement aforementioned.

    These are therefore to certify, That if any Person or Persons will inform against any such unquality’d Person or Persons, who shall take, kill, or destroy in the Night-time, or have in their Possessions any Hares, Pheasants, or Partridges, within the said Hundreds, so as such Person or Persons may be convicted thereof, he or they shall receive of the said Peter Pullyn, on the Conviction of such Person or Persons offending, FIVE POUNDS (over and above the Reward allowed by Act of Parliament) and his or their Name or Names shall not be discovered, unless the Offender or Offenders stand a Tryal at Law, or make Defence to any Indictment or Informations, nor until the Time of such Tryal or Conviction of the Offender or Offenders; And that if any Person or Persons unlawfully take, kill, or destroy and Fish, in any several Rivers or Fishery, or out of inclosed Fish-Ponds within the said Hundreds (without leave of the Owner or Owners thereof) he or they who shall make such Discoveries shall be well rewarded for the same.

    N.B. The Subscribers desire all Noblemen and Gentlemen to have their Titles or Names, with the Day of the Month, wrote on the Direction of any Game to be sent by any Stage-Coach, Waggon, Carts, Carriers, or otherwise; they being determined to prosecute the Drivers of such Stage-Coaches, Waggons and Carts, and the Carriers who shall have any Game in their Custodies that have not such Directions upon the Game as aforesaid.