Joseph Foster (genealogist)

Last updated

Joseph Foster (9 March 1844 29 July 1905) was an English antiquarian and genealogist whose transcriptions of records held by the Inns of Court and the University of Oxford are still important historical resources.


Life and career

While his family was originally seated at Cold Hesledon and Hawthorne on the east coast of County Durham, Joseph Foster was born in Sunniside, Sunderland, and developed an interest in genealogy at an early age. Educated in private schools in the neighbouring towns of North Shields, Sunderland, and Newcastle-on-Tyne, Foster inherited his genealogical faculty from his grandfather, Myles Birket Foster (1785-1861), and published his first genealogical work in 1862, entitled "The Pedigree of the Fosters of Cold Hesledon in Co. Durham," at the age of 18. He was a nephew of the artist Myles Birket Foster. [1]

Working initially as a printer in London, Foster continued to undertake genealogical research and became a prolific writer and publisher in the field. He undertook research into the histories of various families from the north of England, later publishing four volumes of Lancashire and Yorkshire pedigrees. He became friends with several Kings of Arms and heralds of arms during his lifetime, and the records of the College of Arms were often unreservedly placed at his service. [2]

His major works, still used by historians, were transcriptions of the admission registers of the Inns of Court (published in 1885 as Men at the Bar ) and of the matriculation registers of the University of Oxford for the period 1500 to 1886 (published as Alumni Oxonienses ). This latter work was marked by the award of an honorary MA degree by the university in 1892. It has been said of Foster that he was "no scholarly antiquary, but his energy as a transcriber and collector of genealogical and heraldic data has few parallels, and many of his publications remained classic resources, several of permanent value." [1]

Foster died in London aged 61, at his home in St John's Wood, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. [1]


Foster's publications include the following: [1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heraldic visitation</span> Tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms

Heraldic visitations were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms throughout England, Wales and Ireland. Their purpose was to register and regulate the coats of arms of nobility, gentry and boroughs, and to record pedigrees. They took place from 1530 to 1688, and their records provide important source material for historians and genealogists.

Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford is a biographical reference work by Joseph Foster (1844–1905), published by Oxford University Press, listing the alumni of the University of Oxford. Foster's work was compiled principally from the colleges' matriculation registers and the university archives, but it also relies on numerous printed and other sources.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sprignell baronets</span> Extinct baronetcy in the Baronetage of England

The Sprignell Baronetcy, of Coppenthorp, now called Copmanthorpe, in the historic county of Yorkshire, was a title in the Baronetage of England. It was created on 14 August 1641 for Richard Sprignell. The title became extinct on the death of the third Baronet in 1691.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Floyer (Dorset MP)</span> English cricketer and politician

John Floyer was an English cricketer with amateur status who was active from 1832 to 1833. He was later a Conservative Party politician who sat in the House of Commons in two periods between 1846 and 1885.

Thomas Henry Stokoe DD, known as T. H. Stokoe, was an English clergyman, schoolmaster, author and headmaster.

Francis Fetherston or Fetherstonhaugh was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1621 to 1624.

John Whitlock Nicholl Carne (1817–1887) FSA, JP, DCL, was a Welsh landowner, magistrate, and barrister. His seat was Dimlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dodshon Foster</span>

Dodshon Foster was a merchant who profited from the slave trade. He was involved in the shipping of over 700 slaves during his career. His commercial success was assisted by his connection through marriage to the Birket family of merchants; he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Myles Birket.

Thomas Hanway Bigge was an English banker in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Bigge family were gentry based at Longbenton in the later 18th century, and are well documented; but Thomas Hanway Bigge has been confused with another member of the family, Thomas Bigge (1766–1851), who had moved to the London area by about 1810.

John Arthur Fyler was an English politician, Conservative Member of Parliament 1903–04 for the English constituency of Chertsey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Jope Rogers</span>

John Jope Rogers was the owner of Penrose, a house and estate near the Cornish town of Helston. The estate included Loe Pool, the largest lake in Cornwall, now owned by the National Trust. He was also an author and Conservative MP for Helston, Cornwall from 1859 to 1865.

Sir Robert Buckley Comyn was a British judge who served as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court from 1835 to 1842.

Charles Joseph Parke was a High Sheriff of Dorset in 1869 and a Lord of the Manor of Sturminster Marshall. He was born at Ham Common in Surrey and was the son of Charles Parke and Letitia Parke nee Alcock whose brother was Thomas Alcock (MP). In 1847 he married Ellen Mary Ethelston, daughter of the Rev Charles Wicksted Ethelston of Upplyme. Parke lived at Henbury, Dorset.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Shafto (MP)</span>

John Shafto, of Whitworth Hall, County Durham, was a British lawyer and Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1730 to 1742.

Arthur John Edward Irvin was an English first-class cricketer and clergyman.

John Maurice Edward Lloyd was a Welsh first-class cricketer and barrister.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Traill (cricketer)</span> English cricketer, barrister (1826–1899)

James Christie Traill was an English first-class cricketer and barrister.

George Rye was an English Anglican priest in the 18th century.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Foster, Joseph (18441905)" . Obituary . The Times. 1905. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  2. Humphery-Smith, Cecil R. (2004). "Foster, Joseph (18441905)" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press . Retrieved 25 February 2008.