Thomas Furly Forster

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Thomas Furly Forster (1761–1825), was an English botanist.


Forster was born in Bond Court, Walbrook, 5 September 1761, the eldest son of Edward Forster the Elder and Susanna his wife. His father retired to Walthamstow in 1764, and, being an admirer of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, brought up his son on his principles. From his uncle Benjamin Forster he acquired a taste for antiquities, coins, prints, and plants. He was introduced to the Linnean system of classification by the Rev. John Dixon, and was further encouraged in his studies by Joseph Cockfield of Upton, Michael Tyson, Sir John Cullum, and Richard Warner, author of the Plantæ Woodfordienses (1771).

He was one of the first fellows of the Linnean Society, and he visited Tunbridge Wells annually. From 1796 to 1823 he mainly resided at Clapton, and, as he had grown hardy plants in his home at Walthamstow, then devoted himself to greenhouse exotics, giving assistance to the Messrs. Loddiges in establishing their nursery at Hackney.

In 1823 he moved to Walthamstow on the death of his mother, and died there 28 October 1825. He was a member of many scientific and philanthropic societies, and among his friends were Richard Porson and Richard Gough, as well as botanists: Sir James Edward Smith, Sir Joseph Banks, Jonas Dryander, James Dickson, Robert Brown, and Adam Afzelius.


Between 1775 and 1782 Forster made many drawings of plants, studying exotic species in the garden of Mr. Thomas Sikes at Tryon's Place, Hackney. In 1784 was printed a list of additions to Warner's ‘Plantæ Woodfordienses,’ attributed by Dryander to Thomas Forster.

In conjunction with his brothers he drew up the county lists of plants in Gough's ‘Camden’ (1789), and communicated various plants to the ‘Botanical Magazine’ and to ‘English Botany.’ A list of the rare plants of Tunbridge Wells, pp. 14, belonging probably to 1800, is attributed to him by Dryander; and in 1816 he published a ‘Flora Tonbrigensis,’ pp. 216, dedicated to Sir J. E. Smith, which was reissued by his son in 1842.

His fondness for animals made him refuse to prepare an account of the fauna. He contributed two papers to the Linnean Society's ‘Transactions,’ and left an extensive hortus siccus of algæ, as well as of flowering plants, together with collections of fossils, music, &c., and more than a thousand drawings of churches and other ancient buildings, executed by himself. His natural history journals of weather prognostics, &c., were published by his son in 1827 as ‘The Pocket Encyclopædia of Natural Phenomena,’ pp. xlviii and 440.


In 1788 Forster married Susanna, daughter of Thomas Williams of West Ham, and niece of Mr. Sikes. He left two sons, one being Thomas Ignatius Maria Forster,[1] and three daughters.


  1. ^  "Forster, Thomas Ignatius Maria". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Forster, Thomas Furly". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.