The Times/1905/Obituary/Joseph Foster
Mr. Joseph Foster
The death took place on Saturday morning, at his residence, 21, Boundary-road, Finchley-road, N.W., of Mr. Joseph Foster, Hon. M.A. Oxon., the antiquary and genealogist.
The family was originally seated at Cold Hesledon and Hawthorne, on the east coast of the Palatinate, but Mr. Foster was born in Sunderland in 1844. He was a nephew of the late Mr. Birket Foster, the artist. Educated in ordinary private schools in the neighbouring towns of North Shields, Sunderland, and Newcastle-on-Tyne, he inherited his genealogical faculty from his grandfather, Myles Birket Foster, and completed, as early as his 18th year, his first genealogical brochure, entitled "The Pedigree of the Fosters of Cold Hesledon in Co. Durham." After editing four volumes of Lancashire and Yorkshire pedigrees, he transcribed the admission registers of the four Inns of Court, a herculean task, extending over several years. The acquisition of the register of our oldest University, coupled with those of the Inns of Court, with which they dovetail, illustrating and annotating each other, materially they strengthened Mr. Foster's position; but still before he could hope to grapple effectually with so arduous a task as the annotation of the earlier "Alumni Oxoniensis" it was necessary that all the Bishops' certificates of institutions to livings (since the Reformation), now deposited at the Public Record Office, should be laid under contribution, with the result that we have these 150,000 institutions, &c. alphabetically arranged as a clergy list, and have Mr. Foster's greatest work comprised in eight volumes. In recognition of this special service the University conferred upon him on 1892 the degree of Master of Arts honoris causa. His best known critical work was undoubtedly "Chaos," under which category he classed for the first time all known "soi-disant baronets." "Chaos" formed a minor portion of the Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage, compiled and edited by Mr. Foster in 1880-84, for the pedigrees of which the records of the Herald's College were unreservedly placed at his service. The prolific writer, besides having the satisfaction of editing Colonel Chester's collection of "marriage licences" for Mr. Quaritch, also issued at his own expense the majority of the Herald's Visitations of the North, whilst from his study emanated such useful works as "Men at the Bar," "Scottish Members of Parliament, 1357-1882," "Gray's Inn Admission Register, 1521-1889," "Our Noble and Gentle Families of Royal Descent," and several minor family histories. Within recent years have been published "Some Feudal Coats of Arms," "Some Feudal Lords and Their Seats," and "Banners, Standards, and Badges," the last three of which Mr. Foster edited for the de Walden Library.