Dwight Foster (1828–1884)

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Dwight Foster
Dwight Foster (1828–1884).png
Massachusetts Attorney General
In office
Preceded by Stephen Henry Phillips
Succeeded by Chester L. Reed
Associate Justice of the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
Preceded by Charles Augustus Dewey[1]
Succeeded by Seth Ames
Personal details
Born (1828-12-13)December 13, 1828
Worcester, Massachusetts
Died April 18, 1884(1884-04-18) (aged 55)
Boston, Massachusetts
Resting place Rural Cemetery
Worcester, Massachusetts
Spouse(s) Henrietta Perkins Baldwin
Relations Theodore Foster
Dwight Foster
Roger Sherman Baldwin
Children Burnside Foster
Emily B. Foster
Mary Rebecca Foster
Henrietta Baldwin Foster
Roger Sherman Baldwin Foster
Reginald Foster
Elizabeth Skinner Foster
Alma mater Yale
Profession Lawyer

Dwight Foster (December 13, 1828 – April 18, 1884) was an American lawyer and politician from Massachusetts. He served as Massachusetts Attorney General and was an associate justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Early life[edit]

Foster was born in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts[2] and attended the common schools there and completed preparatory studies in Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated from Yale College in 1848,[3] where he was a member of Skull and Bones.[4] He was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts the following year,[5] and attended Harvard Law School in 1851. He began the practice of law in Worcester.[6]


In 1854, he served in the Massachusetts State Militia and was Governor Emory Washburn's aide-de-camp.[6] Foster held various positions in the government in Massachusetts, including probate judge. In 1864, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts and was elected Massachusetts Attorney General, serving from 1861 to 1864.[7] He returned to practicing law until 1866 when he was appointed Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Alexander Bullock. [8] He served as Associate Justice from 1866 to 1869.[9][10]

After leaving office he served as Associate Counsel for the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company.[11]

Foster died on April 18, 1884 in Boston, Massachusetts,[2][12][13] and is interred in the Rural Cemetery in Worcester.

Family life[edit]

Foster was the son of Alfred Dwight Foster (1800–1852) and Lydia Stiles. His father was a representative on the Massachusetts General Court and was involved with various civic organizations including the Worcester town council, Massachusetts Governor's Council, Leicester Academy, Amherst College, the State Lunatic Asylum, and the State Reform School.[14] Foster married Henrietta Perkins Baldwin (1830–1910),[15] the daughter of Connecticut Governor & U.S. Senator Roger Sherman Baldwin.[16] They had eight children: Burnside Foster, Emily B. Foster, Mary Rebecca Foster, Henrietta Baldwin Foster, Roger Sherman Baldwin Foster, Reginald Foster and Elizabeth Skinner Foster.[12] Their son Roger Sherman Baldwin Foster (1857–1924) was a prominent lawyer.

His grandfather, Judge Dwight Foster (1757–1823), was a Representative and a Senator from Massachusetts; born in Brookfield, Worcester County, Mass., December 7, 1757; completed preparatory studies and graduated from Brown University, Providence, R.I., in 1774; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1778 and commenced practice in Providence, R.I.; justice of the peace for Worcester County 1781–1823; special justice of the court of common pleas 1792; sheriff of Worcester County 1792; member, State house of representatives 1791–1792; elected to the Third and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1793, to June 6, 1800, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Claims (Fourth through Sixth Congresses); delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1799; elected to the United States Senate as a Federalist to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Samuel Dexter and served from June 6, 1800, to March 2, 1803, when he resigned; chief justice of the court of common pleas 1801–1811; member, State house of representatives 1808–1809; member of the Governor’s council and held other state and local offices chief justice of Worcester County, Massachusetts, a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, the Massachusetts State Legislature, and the Massachusetts Executive Council, and was a U.S. senator serving as a Federalist from 1800 to 1803.[17]

His great uncle Theodore Foster was a Senator from Rhode Island; born in Brookfield, Worcester County, Mass., April 29, 1752; pursued classical studies and graduated from Rhode Island College (now Brown University), Providence, R.I., in 1770; studied law; admitted to the bar about 1771 and commenced practice in Providence, R.I.; town clerk of Providence 1775–1787; member, State house of representatives 1776–1782; appointed judge of the court of admiralty in May 1785; appointed Naval Officer of Customs for the district of Providence, R.I., 1790; appointed to the United States Senate in 1790; elected in 1791 and again in 1797 as a Federalist and served from June 7, 1790, to March 3, 1803; was not a candidate for reelection in 1802; retired from public life and engaged in writing and historical research; member, State house of representatives 1812–1816; trustee of Brown University 1794–1822.[17]


  1. ^ Hurd, Duane Hamilton (1890), History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: with Biographical Sketches of its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Volume 1, Philadelphia, PA: J.W. Lewis & CO., p. xxx. 
  2. ^ a b Davis, William Thomas (1900), History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts: Including the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies, The Province of Massachusetts Bay, and The Commonwealth, Boston, MA: The Boston Book Company, p. 194. 
  3. ^ Prescott, William (1870). The Prescott memorial: or, A genealogical memoir of the Prescott families in America. In two parts. H. W. Dutton & son. p. 173. 
  4. ^ Millegan, Kris (2003). "The Skeleton Crew". Fleshing Out Skull and Bones: Investigations into America's Most Powerful Secret Society. Walterville, OR: Trine Day. pp. 597–690. ISBN 0-9720207-2-1.  "This list is compiled from material from the Order of Skull and Bones membership books at Sterling Library, Yale University and other public records. The latest books available are the 1971 Living members and the 1973 Deceased Members books. The last year the members were published in the Yale Banner is 1969."
  5. ^ Davis, William (2008). History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts: Including the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies, the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, and the Commonwealth. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. p. 194. 
  6. ^ a b Miller, Richard F. (2013). States at War, Volume 1: A Reference Guide for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont in the Civil War. UPNE. p. 336. 
  7. ^ Chase, Salmon Portland and Niven, John (1993). The Salmon P. Chase Papers. Kent State University Press. p. 648. 
  8. ^ Harrison, Bruce (2005). The Family Forest Descendants of Lady Joan Beaufort. Millisecond Publishing Company, Inc. p. 2566. 
  9. ^ Massachusetts. General Court (1869). A Manual for the Use of the General Court. Massachusetts. General Court. p. 137. 
  10. ^ Chamber of Commerce (1911). The Worcester Magazine: Devoted to Good Citizenship and Municipal Development, Volume 14. Chamber of Commerce. p. 552. 
  11. ^ Bacon, Leonard and Thompson, Joseph Parrish (1908). The Independent Volume 65. S. W. Benecdict. p. 58. 
  12. ^ a b "Dwight Foster". Ancestry.com. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  13. ^ Observer Circulating Company (1916). The Insurance Observer, Volumes 22-23. Observer Circulating Company. p. 364. 
  14. ^ Yale University (1880). Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University ... Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Alumni. p. 196. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  15. ^ Harvard University Press (1972). THE LETTERS OF Henry Wadsworth Longellow. Harvard University Press. p. 520. 
  16. ^ L.R. Hamersly (1909). Men and Women of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries. L.R. Hamersly. p. 704. 
  17. ^ a b Mull, Carol E. (2010). The Underground Railroad in Michigan. McFarland,. p. 66. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
James Colt
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
1866 – 1869
Succeeded by
Seth Ames
Preceded by
Stephen Henry Phillips
Massachusetts Attorney General
1861 – 1864
Succeeded by
Chester L. Reed