Foster Pamphlet Collection

Scope and Content

Collection of 18th century pamphlets, magazines and reports etc compiled by John Foster, Baron Oriel (1740-1828), last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. An important and unique assemblage of materials, the collection was compiled by Foster during his years of high political office in both the Irish and British Houses of Parliaments. The main focus of the collection concerns the major political pre-occupations of the day, including Parliamentary Reform, Catholic Relief, trade and manufacture, the Act of Union and the state of the Irish nation. Economic affairs is, however, a particular strength of the collection reflecting Foster's own political priorities and interests (he saw economic prosperity as a cure for Irish discontent) with material on the relief of the poor, banking and coinage, agriculture and industry, taxation and tithes all well represented. In addition to political affairs in Ireland, commentary is also provided on the debates concerning the progress of the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and British politics in general. Social matters are also touched on with examples of 18th century poetry, satire and drama to be found throughout the collection. Primarily published in English and from printing houses across the British Isles, the pamphlets are bound into volumes and classified under such general headings as 'Politics,' 'Agriculture,' 'American States,' 'Sermons' 'Tythes and Popery,' 'Regency 1789' etc, as originally arranged by Foster during his lifetime.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Foster, b. Collon, Co. Louth, 1740. Irish Politician. Entered the Irish House of Commons in 1761 as member for Dunleer, Co. Louth. Succeeded to family seat for Co. Louth in 1768, which he represented continuously until his elevation to the UK peerage in 1821 as Baron Oriel. Served in a number of key offices including Chairman of the Committee of Supply and Ways and Means, 1777-84, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, 1784-5, 1804-6 and 1807-11, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, 1785-1800. Opposed Catholic Emancipation and was an influential opponent of the Act of Union. d. Collon, Co. Louth, 1828.Sources: Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography, John S. Crone (Dublin, 1928);

Access Information

Open to consultation. Material available in English, with some French.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by QUB in 1942.


Descrition prepared by Clare McVeigh (RASCAL Project), entered by Deirdre Wildy, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Details of the Foster Collection can be found on the QUB on-line catalogue (QCAT)

Appraisal Information

The Foster Pamphlet Collection is important as it provides a comprehensive representation of the pamphleteering activity prevalent during the 18th century and for its reflection of the major political and economic preoccupations of the day at both local (Irish) and national (Westminster) parliamentary levels. Particular subject strengths include economic development, Irish and British politics, the American War of Independence, Catholic Relief and the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland.

Custodial History

The Foster Pamphlet Collection was compiled by John Foster, Baron Oriel (1740-1828), passing to his descendents on his death in 1828. The collection was purchased by Queen's University from the family in 1942 per Viscount Massareene of Antrim.



Related Material

Foster/Massereene Papers (Public Record Office Northern Ireland)