- FORSTER, Sir Henry William, Baron Forster (1866-1936)
- governor-general of Australiason of Major John Forster, was born on 21 January 1866. He was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, played cricket for Oxford, Kent and Hampshire, and twice represented the gentlemen against the players. He gave up first-class cricket at an early age though he always kept his interest in the game. In 1890 he married Rachel Cecily, daughter of the first Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and in 1892 was elected a conservative member for Sevenoaks in the house of commons, holding this seat until 1918 when he became member for Bromley. Forster was a lord of the treasury from 1902 to 1905 and showed ability and wisdom in the difficult position of financial secretary to the war office from 1915 to 1919. He was raised to the peerage, as Baron Forster of Lepe in December 1919, and in June 1920 was appointed governor-general of Australia. He arrived at Melbourne and was sworn in on 6 October 1920, and his popularity and that of his wife was soon unbounded. He disliked snobbery and pretence and appreciated the directness of the Australians. The countryside appealed to him very much and he was much interested in the bird life. He did not care much for racing but cricket still retained its interest, and he was able to find time for some golf and yachting. The period of post-war reconstruction was a somewhat difficult one, but no important constitutional question arose during Forster's governorship, and he was more than equal to the usual calls made upon him. He had lost his two sons in the war, one was killed in action in the first year and the other died of wounds some months after the war's conclusion, and he gave much attention to returned Australian wounded in hospitals. He did a great deal of travelling throughout Australia, visited the mandated territory of German New Guinea, and after his return to England in 1925 kept his interest in the dominion. Though in reality of a somewhat diffident nature he was a good debater and generally his public speaking was excellent. He was elected president of the M.C.C. in 1918, was made a member of the privy council in June 1917 and G.C.M.G. in 1920. He died at London on 15 January 1936 and was survived by Lady Forster and two daughters.The Times, 16 January 1936; The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 1936; The Argus, Melbourne, 17 January, 1936; Burke's Peerage, etc., 1935.
Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. Angus and Robertson. 1949.
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