John Foster (1767 - 1831) MP

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Death: Died
Occupation: magistrate in both England and Jamaica
Managed by: Margaret, (C)
Last Updated:

About John Foster

John Foster (1767 - 1831), of the Bogue Estates, Jamaica and of Brikhill House, Bedford. He was a magistrate in both England and Jamaica.

1st m. Margaret, daughter of Thomas Place Esq. Recorder of York. Their four children were William, Thomas, Edward Plaice and Margaret.

2nd m. his cousin Flora Foster b. 1774 Elim, daughter of Samuel Foster b. 1725 Elim. No issue.

3rd m Amelia Morgan b. 1782 daughter of John Morgan, Recorder of Maidstone, and had 2 daughters and 3 sons. The sons of John Foster's 1st marriage were displaced by the sons of his 3rd marriage to Amelia Morgan. Edward was recorded as 'died young', William as d. unm.

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It all starts in the early 1600s in the Caribbean when the growing naval power of Great Britain, France and Holland began to challenge the Spanish hold over their Caribbean territories. Oliver Cromwell had built up both the English army and navy and by the mid 1650s was very much in need of finance and hit upon the idea of taking Santo Domingo on the large island of Hispaniola and using this as a base for striking all Spanish possessions in the area. In 1654 Admiral Penn and General Robert Venables sailed with 8000 men to the coast of Hispaniola. One of those on the expeditions was Col. John Foster of Egham, Surrey. The mission to Santo Domingo failed completely due to the defences of the Spanish. They had built the city 37 miles from the coast and the British never reached the city walls. Afraid of returning empty handed Penn accepted Venables suggestion to take the much smaller and less well defended island of Jamaica. They landed on 10 May 1655 and marched easily into Spanish Town without the loss of any men. The Spanish were then allowed to leave the island. Cromwell was not amused with this outcome and Venables and Penn spent six weeks in the Tower of London.

Meanwhile the establishment of a colony in Jamaica proceeded and John Foster, along with other officers of the mission, received grants of extensive estates, his in the parish of St Elizabeth on the south west of the island. The Fosters flourished and in a couple of generations had used the wealth gained in Jamaica to purchase extensive properties in England. We have good records of these members but there is considerable uncertainty about whether some were born in Jamaica or England, and this is where the will of Mary Place is so valuable.

As the colony progressed some of the plantation owners lived on their English estates as absentee landlords, with very large incomes from growing sugar. John Foster, the husband of Margaret Place was born in 1767 but I am not sure where. Certainly his wife Margaret was born in York and they married in Bedford in 1871. As mentioned in the will, Margaret had children and died before the writing of the will in 1802. This would mean that when she died the eldest of her children would have not been more than ten and I think we can presume that all were born in England. The children were William. Thomas, Edward Plaice (my great great-grandfather) and Margaret. All very much in line with naming practice at that time, with the first son taking the name of John Foster's father, William, the second son the name of Margaret's father, Thomas, and the third son another of Margaret's family names, Edward, which was the name of Margaret's brother, together with Plaice or Place, her maiden name.

After Margaret's death John Foster married a cousin, Flora Foster, who died not long after . Again there is conjecture about where Flora was born, but shortly after her death John Foster married Amelia Morgan, the daughter of another Recorder but this time of Maidstone. This was clearly a much more society marriage and John and his family were living in Brickhill House in Bedford when their first child Flora was born in 1806, followed by another daughter and three sons. The older of these sons to his third wife was to inherit the estate of John Foster, and his will described his daughter Margaret as the sole surviving child of his marriage to his late wife Margaret.

I wonder what Mary Place would have thought of her grandsons being treated in this way by her son-in-law John Foster. Edward Plaice Foster was sent to Jamaica in 1817, when he was 19, and his brother William seems to have stayed in England. We are talking about what today would be called 'high worth' people as fortunes were made through the labour of slaves on the sugar plantations of Jamaica. In his will, written in 1831, John Foster counts among his assets "all the negroes upon or belonging to the said plantations lands and estates and their issue and offspring of their families of such negroes." This was within a few years of the emancipation of the Jamaican slaves in 1834, much resisted by the plantation owners.

Edward Plaice Foster married a young woman of mixed race, had eight children, the eldest of whom was my great grandfather William Foster, who emigrated to New Zealand in the 1850s or 60s and died in 1908. William Foster and his wife had 16 children, 15 of whom survived to adulthood, so there are many Foster descendants in N.Z. I was born in Upper Hutt, near Wellington, in 1937 and emigrated to Melbourne in 1964.

What a cousin in Wellington and I have discovered is that even if some family history material seems peripheral it is often very worthwhile following it up to gain an impression of the times concerned. And that is certainly what the will of Mary Place has done for us.

Regards,

John (Foster)

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John Foster's Timeline

1767
1767
1798
1798
Age 31
1804
1804
Age 37
Bedfordshire England
1806
April 22, 1806
Age 39
Brickhill Bedfordshire England
1811
1811
Age 44
1813
1813
Age 46
1813
Age 46
1831
1831
Age 64
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