John Foster, 1st Baron Oriel

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Oriel
PC (Ire)
Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland
In office
30 April 1807 – 1811
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Duke of Portland
Preceded by Sir John Newport, Bt
Succeeded by William Wellesley-Pole
Speaker of the Irish House of Commons
In office
Monarch George III
Preceded by Edmund Pery
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Born 1740
Died 23 August 1828
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Margaretta Amelia Foster
Religion Church of Ireland

John Foster, 1st Baron Oriel (1740 – 23 August 1828) was an Anglo-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

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

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. He ultimately refused to surrender the Speaker's mace, which was kept by his family. Foster was returned to the united parliament as a member for County Louth, and in 1804 became Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer under Pitt. 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.


In 1764 he married Margaretta Amelia Burgh, daughter of Thomas Burgh, MP for Lanesborough, and his wife Anne Downes, daughter of Dive (or Dives) 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; and 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.


  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" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Biography & Letters

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
1768 – 1801
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
1785 – 1801
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Oriel
Succeeded by
Thomas Skeffington