Thanks to Dr. Billy Glen Foster we can now trace our family tree back beyond the ancestral immigrant into England and back even further to the Normon invasion. We are indebted to him for supplying almost all of the information on this page.
We Fosters descended from Sir Richard Forester, who was the brother-in-law of William the Conqueror. This page will start with him and work up, generation by generation, to
Richard Foster, our ancestral immigrant.
But before I begin this part of the history, I want to set the record straight about one thing. Family legends abound about our ancestors. Some are true and others are not. Our Forster ancestors were not Celtic and they were not Saxon. They were Norman. One of the legends claims that our ancestors were Scottish and that a later branch of the family settled in Northern Ireland during the time of King James I. This is not true. Although many Forsters did migrate from Scotland to Northern Ireland, our line did not. Our line of the Foster family came to America from England. Although I personally would have no objection to being Scotch-Irish, our ancestors simply were not part of that migration to Northern Ireland. However, it is only fair to point out that they were Anglo-Scottish. They were "Borderers," one of the many clans who lived on the Anglo-Scottish border. Their primary loyalty was to the Forster clan. They were loyal to the crown of Scotland when it was convenient and to the crown of England when it was necessary.
Sir Richard Forester (b. 1050) was the son of Count Baldwin V of Flanders. His sister Matilda was married to William, Duke of Normandy. He accompanied William in the Norman invasion and was knighted by William after the Battle of Hastings. William gave him land on the Anglo-Scottish border in Nothumberland and Berwick Counties. It is with this person that the name Forester first comes into use as a surname.
Sir Hugo Forester (d. 1121). Some sources identify this man and Sir Richard as the same person. He fought against Magnus, King of Norway in 1101 and helped King Richard I fight against Robert in 1106. He had two sons, Hugo and Reginald.
Sir Reginald Forester (d. 1156), like his father and grandfather, was the governor of Etherstone. He was knighted on August 22, 1138 by King Stephen.
William Forester was also Governor of Etherstone. He was the General in command against the Welsh rebellion in 1163 and 1165. He fought against Louis VII of France 1168-1169, and died at Etherstone in 1176.
Sir John Forester (d. 1220) accompanied King Richard I to the Holy Land in the Crusades and was the hero of the Battle of Acre. For his bravery he was knighted by Richard the Lion Hearted in the Holy Land and was made Governor of Bamborough. He is also known to be one of the nobles who compelled King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
Sir Randolph Forster was a general under Henry III and fought against France in 1225. He also was a surety in the signing of the Magna Carta. He was the Governor of Bamborough and died in 1256.
Sir Alfred Forster was called "The Generous." He was knighted on the battlefield of Eversham August 4, 1265 and died in 1284. Some sources add another generation at this point, also named Alfred and also knighted at Eversham.
Reginald Forster fought at Banockburn on the side of King Edward II. After the battle he married and had a son named Richard. He died in 1328.
Sir Richard Forster (d. 1371) fought in the One Hundred Years War with France. He accompanied King Edward III in the invasion of France and was knighted after the battle of Crecy on August 26, 1346. He is also known to have fought at Bordeaux.
Sir William Forster was also a general and was knighted by Henry V.
Sir Thomas Forster was born at Etherstone Castle in 1397. He married Joan de Elmerden, co-heiress of the earldom of Angus. He had three sons: Robert, Rowland, and Thomas.
Sir Thomas Forster married Elizabeth, the daughter of Featherstonhaugh and settled in Hunsden. They had nineteen sons, including Thomas, Roger, and Nicholas. Reginald Foster of Massachusetts, whom we have seen referenced in many sources, descended from Thomas. Our line however, descended from Roger.
Sir Roger Forster married Joan Hussey. She was the daughter of Hussey of Sussex, who was beheaded for treason in 1537 by Henry VIII. The Hussey family descended from Hubert Hussey, a Norman nobleman who was married to Helen, the daughter of Richard V, Duke of Normandy.
The story of Roger Forster is very interesting. Our primary source for this story is a letter written by Sir John Forster in the 16th century to his cousin Thomas. John was a great-great grandson of Thomas Forster, Roger's brother. John's cousin Thomas, the recipient of the letter, was a grandson of Roger. In the letter, John describes an incident which occurred in the life of Roger Forster.
Roger and three of his brothers were out hunting and came to a town called Newham. Thomas was twenty years old at the time. Roger was seventeen, and Nicholas was fourteen. They encountered some men of the Karr clan and a fight broke out after one of the Karr's dogs bit one of the Forsters. Only one of the Karrs and his dog were left alive after the fight. This man, seeking revenge, later laid an ambush for the Forster brothers at a place called Branton. Karr was accompanied by individuals (probably dogs) named Too and King. Too was killed and Karr fled. Thomas Forster, then fearful of further reprisals, fled to Ridsdale for safety. Roger, for the same reason, fled to London.
This story is important to us because it helps us to see where our ancestral immigrant came from. He did not come from Scotland, or Northern Ireland, or even the Anglo-Scottish border. He came from London.
Thomas Forster was the son of Roger Forster. He married Margaret Browning, who was the daughter of Browning of Chelmsford, in 1545.
Robert Forster of Salop. Of this person we know almost nothing.
Sir Robert Forster (b. 1587) married a Miss Isham.
Richard Foster (b. 1619) immigrated to America. On August 10, 1635 he boarded the Safety in London and arrived soon thereafter in Virginia. He married (1) a woman named Ann and (2) Susannah Garnett. She was born 1620 in Virginia. Richard and Susannah had four sons: William. Robert, Richard, and John.