Foster, William (DNB00)

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FOSTER, WILLIAM (1591–1643), divine, son of William Foster of London, barber-surgeon, was born in November 1591 (School Register). He entered Merchant Taylors' School in July 1607 (ib.), and two years later (8 Dec. 1609) was admitted of St. John's College, Oxford, whence he graduated. Having taken holy orders he became chaplain (1628) to the Earl of Carnarvon, and soon afterwards rector of Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire. In 1629 he published a little treatise against the use of weapon-salve. The book is entitled ‘Hoplo-Crisma Spongus, or a Sponge to wipe away the Weapon-Salve, wherein is proved that the Cure taken up among us by applying the Salve to the Weapon is magical and unlawful,’ 4to, 1629 and 1641. It attracted some attention through the answer made to it on behalf of the Rosicrucians by Dr. Robert Fludd [q. v.] in 1631. Francis Osborne also attacked it in an essay ‘On such as condemn all they understand not a reason for’ (1659). Wood says that Foster was helped in his work (which displays considerable learning) by Dr. John Roberts, a jesuit, who, ‘because some Protestants practised this and characterical cures (which, notwithstanding, are more frequent among Roman Catholics), he therefore called them Magi, Calvinists, Characterists, &c.’ Sir Kenelm Digby [q. v.] claimed to be the first to introduce the ‘weapon-salve’ into England. Foster was killed in 1643 (Lipscomb), but under what circumstances we know not.

[Robinson's Reg. of Merchant Taylors' School; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 573; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire, iv. 508.]

C. J. R.