John Foster, 1st Baron Oriel

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The Lord Oriel

The Right Honorable John Foster by Gilbert Stuart, c. 1790-1791 - Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - DSC09033.JPG
Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland
In office
30 April 1807 – 1811
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Duke of Portland
Preceded bySir John Newport, Bt
Succeeded byWilliam Wellesley-Pole
Speaker of the Irish House of Commons
In office
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byEdmund Pery
Succeeded byOffice abolished
(Cathal Brugha as Ceann Comhairle)
Personal details
Died23 August 1828 (aged 87–88)
Spouse(s)Margaretta Amelia Foster

John Foster, 1st Baron Oriel (1740 – 23 August 1828) was an Irish peer and politician, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland and as the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

Early life[edit]

He was the son of Anthony Foster of Dunleer, Louth, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer (and son of John Foster, MP for Dunleer) by his first wife Elizabeth Burgh. Foster lived in Merville, now part of the University College Dublin Campus in Clonskeagh, which came into his ownership in 1778, he also inherited Collon House in County Louth from his father, and made extensive improvements to the house and grounds; Collon was famous for its variety of trees and shrubs.[1]

Collon House, ancestral seat of the Foster family.

Political career[edit]

He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) to the Irish House of Commons for Dunleer in 1761, a seat he held until 1769, he made his mark in financial and commercial questions, being appointed Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1784. His law giving bounties on the exportation of corn and imposing heavy taxes on its importation is noted by William Lecky as being largely responsible for making Ireland an arable instead of a pasture country. In 1785 he became the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

In 1768, Foster was elected for Navan and in 1783 for Sligo Borough. Both times he had also stood for Louth, which constituency he then chose to represent, he held this seat until the Act of Union in 1801, which he opposed. From 1785 to 1800 he was Speaker of the Irish Parliament, it was said by his critics that his opposition to the Union was less political than personal: summoned to London for consultations, he found himself treated with contempt by the English officials he dealt with, who mocked his broad Irish accent and called him "Mister Spaker". On returning to Ireland he launched a campaign of opposition to the Union, he ultimately refused to surrender the Speaker's mace, which was kept by his family and is now on display in the old Parliament House, now the Bank of Ireland.

He served as Custos Rotulorum of Louth from 1798-1801 and Governor of Louth from 1798 to his death.

Foster was returned in 1801 to the new United Kingdom parliament as a member for County Louth, and from 1804 to 1806 was Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer under Pitt. From 1807 to 1813 he was second Commissioner in the Irish Treasury and from 1807 to 1812 one of the Lord Commissioners of the UK Treasury.

In 1821 he was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Oriel, of Ferrard, in the County of Louth, and died on 23 August 1828.


Foster Place, Dublin, street sign, named after John Foster

In 1764 he married Margaretta Amelia Burgh, daughter of Thomas Burgh) , MP for Lanesborough, and his wife Anne Downes, daughter of Dive Downes, Bishop of Cork and Ross. John and Margaretta had two sons and a daughter.

His elder son, John Foster, was MP for Dunleer 1790–92 and died without issue before 18 April 1792;[2] that John should not be confused with his cousin John William Foster, MP for Dunleer 1783-90.[3]

His wife (d. 1824) had in 1790 been created an Irish peeress, as Baroness Oriel, and in 1797 Viscountess Ferrard. Their younger son, Thomas Henry (1772–1843), who married Harriet Skeffington, Viscountess Massereene in her own right, and took the name of Skeffington, inherited all these titles; the later Viscounts Massereene being their descendants.

John and Margaretta also had a daughter, Anne, who married James Blackwood, 2nd Baron Dufferin, but had no children.

One of his first cousins married Elizabeth Hervey, aka Lady Bess Foster, aka Elizabeth, Duchess of Devonshire, his younger brother was Lord Bishop Foster.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Burke's Peerage 1970
  3. ^ [1] says "John William Foster,. M.P., for Dunleer, who married 1788,. Rebecca, only child of Hamilton McClure,. Esq., of Dublin, and died 1809, having had .."
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Oriel, John Foster, Baron". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]

Biography and letters[edit]

APW Malcomson: "John Foster: The politics of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy" ISBN 0-19-920087-4, 504 pages, 1978 Oxford: Oxford University Press APW Malcomson: *An Anglo-Irish Dialogue: A Calendar of the Correspondence between John Foster and Lord Sheffield 1774-1821" ISBN 0-905691-00-8, 102 pages, 1975 Belfast: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Anthony Foster
Thomas Tennison
Member of Parliament for Dunleer
With: Thomas Tennison 1761–1762
Dixie Coddington 1762–1769
Succeeded by
Robert Sibthorpe
Dixie Coddington
Preceded by
John Preston
Joseph Preston
Member of Parliament for Navan
With: Joseph Preston
Succeeded by
John Preston
Joseph Preston
Preceded by
Stephen Sibthorpe
James Fortescue
Member of Parliament for Louth
With: James Fortescue 1768–1782
Thomas James Fortescue 1782–1796
William Charles Fortescue 1796–1801
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Richard Hely-Hutchinson
Owen Wynne
Member of Parliament for Sligo Borough
With: Owen Wynne
Succeeded by
Owen Wynne
Thomas Dawson
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Louth
With: William Charles Fortescue to 1806
Viscount Jocelyn 1806–1807
John Jocelyn 1807–1810
Viscount Jocelyn 1810–1820
John Jocelyn from August 1810
Succeeded by
Thomas Skeffington and
John Jocelyn
Political offices
Preceded by
Edmund Sexton Pery
Speaker of the Irish House of Commons
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Oriel
Succeeded by
Thomas Skeffington