Forster, Nathaniel (1718-1757) (DNB00)

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FORSTER, NATHANIEL, D.D. (1718–1757), classical and biblical scholar, was born on 3 Feb. 1717–18 at Stadscombe, in the parish of Plymstock, Devonshire, of which his father, Robert Forster, was then minister. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. John Tindal, vicar of Cornwood in the same county. She was sister of the Rev. Nicholas Tindal, translator of Rapin's ‘History of England,’ and niece of Dr. Matthew Tindal, author of ‘Christianity as Old as the Creation’ (see Tindal pedigree in Nichols, Lit. Anecd. ix. 303). He received the rudiments of education at Plymouth, where his father had removed on being appointed lecturer of St. Andrew's Church. After a course of instruction in the grammar school of that town under the Rev. John Bedford, he was removed in 1731–2 to Eton, being at the same time entered at Pembroke College, Oxford, in order to entitle him to the benefit of an exhibition of 40l. a year. He spent about sixteen months at Eton, and then repaired to his college at Oxford, where he became a pupil of Dr. Radcliff. On 13 June 1733 he was admitted scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He proceeded B.A. in 1735, and M.A. 10 Feb. 1738–9, was elected a fellow of Corpus in 1739, and graduated B.D. in 1746 and D.D. in 1750 (Foster, Alumni Oxon. ii. 479).

In 1749 he was presented by the Lord-chancellor Hardwicke, on the recommendation of Bishop Secker, to the small rectory of Hethe, Oxfordshire. In 1750 he became domestic chaplain to Dr. Butler, on that prelate being translated from Bristol to Durham. The bishop bequeathed to him a legacy of 200l., appointed him executor of his will, and died in his arms at Bath [see Butler, Joseph]. Forster, overwhelmed with grief at the loss of his friend, returned to his college for a short time, and in July 1752 was appointed one of the chaplains to Dr. Herring, archbishop of Canterbury. In the autumn of 1754 the archbishop gave him the valuable vicarage of Rochdale, Lancashire. Although a scholar and a preacher of the highest order, he was little understood and not very popular at Rochdale, where he did not long reside. The many letters addressed to him by Dr. Herring show that the primate's regard for him was most cordial and sincere. The lord chancellor promoted him on 1 Feb. 1754–5 to a prebendal stall in the church of Bristol (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 231).

On 1 May 1755 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society (Thomson, List of the Fellows, p. xlviii), and on 12 May 1756 he was sworn one of the chaplains to George II. In the summer of 1757 he was, through the interest of Lord Royston, appointed by Sir Thomas Clarke to succeed Dr. Terrick as preacher at the Rolls Chapel. In August the same year he married Susan, widow of John Balls of Norwich, a lady possessed of considerable fortune. Forster took a house in Craig's Court, Charing Cross, about two months before his death, which took place on 20 Oct. 1757, in consequence of excessive study. He was buried in St. Martin's Church, Westminster. His widow (who afterwards married Philip Bedingfeld, esq., of Ditchingham, Norfolk) erected a monument to his memory in Bristol Cathedral. It is inscribed with an elegant Latin epitaph, composed by Dr. Hayter, then bishop of Norwich.

Forster, who was an accomplished scholar, and thoroughly conversant with the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew languages, published: 1. ‘Reflections on the Natural Foundation of the high Antiquity of Government, Arts, and Sciences in Egypt,’ Oxford, 1743, 8vo. 2. ‘Platonis Dialogi quinque. Recensuit, notisque illustravit Nathan. Forster,’ Oxford, 1745, 8vo, reprinted 1765. 3. ‘Appendix Liviana; continens, (I.) Selectas codicum MSS. et editionum antiquarum lectiones, præcipuas variorum Emendationes, et supplementa lacunarum in iis T. Livii, qui supersunt libris. (II.) I. Freinshemii supplementorum libros X in locum decadis secundæ Livianæ deperditæ,’ Oxford, 1746. 4. ‘Popery destructive of the Evidence of Christianity,’ a sermon on Mark vii. 13, preached before the university of Oxford on 5 Nov. 1746, Oxford, 8vo; reprinted in ‘The Churchman Armed,’ vol. ii. (1814). 5. ‘A Dissertation upon the Account supposed to have been given of Jesus Christ by Josephus. Being an attempt to show that this celebrated passage, some slight corruptions only excepted, may be esteemed genuine,’ 1749, 8vo. 6. ‘Biblia Hebraica sine punctis,’ Oxford, 1750, 4to. 7. ‘Remarks on the Rev. Dr. Stebbing's “Dissertation on the Power of States to deny Civil Protection to the Marriages of Minors,” &c.,’ London, 1755.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 289; Gent. Mag. lxxxvi. (i.) 537; Darling's Cyclopædia Bibliographica, p. 1166; Cat. of Oxford Graduates, 1851, p. 238; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual (Bohn), p. 821; Bodleian Cat.]

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