Richard Forster 1651-1729

From Book Owners Online

Richard FORSTER ca.1650-1729

Contemporary portrait of Richard Forster
Courtesy of The Godmersham Park Heritage Centre

Biographical Note

Son of Clement Forster of Chester, born in Neston, Cheshire. His date of birth is given generally as 1651 but may have been 1650 or even 1649. He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford (1666; B.A. 1669; M.A. 1673). He was usher at the free school in Tonbridge and then in 1681 headmaster of Sutton Valence school in Kent. He was ordained in 1682 and became rector of Beckley, Sussex, from 1682 to 1699; from 1698 he was rector of Crundale in Kent and vicar of Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey. He died in Crundale in 1729.


Forster collected books from his student days in Oxford and continued to build up a significant collection which he made available to fellow local clergymen and friends. He left the collection in his will for the benefit of his successors as rectors of Crundale, believing that it would be of use to them as the income from the living was so small. The library survives more or less intact. It is currently housed on deposit at the Cathedral Library in Canterbury and is catalogued on the library catalogue of the University of Kent as part of the Cathedral's collections. There are over 900 volumes, consisting of approximately 2,300 individual titles. Forster had a significant collection of bound pamphlets on political and ecclesiastical controversies.

Characteristic Markings

He frequently signed his books 'Ri. Forster', often giving a date, place and price of purchase and binding.


  • Nigel Yates, 'The parochial Library of All Saints, Maidstone, and other Kentish parochial Libraries', Archaeologia Cantiana, 99, 1983, pp.159–173: 162–163.
  • Sarah Gray and Chris Baggs, 'The English Parish Library: A Celebration of Diversity', Libraries & Culture, 35(3), 2000, pp. 414–433: 423–424.
  • Michael Perkin, A Directory of the Parochial Libraries of the Church of England and the Church in Wales. London: The Bibliographical Society, 2004, 490 p., 185–186.
  • David Shaw, ‘Parochial libraries in Kent’, Library & Information History, 27, no. 4 (December 2011) 239–45.
  • Helen Jarvis, 'Richard Forster, Rector of Crundale', Canterbury Cathedral Archives & Library Newsletter, 58, Winter 2018, pp. 6–8.