Samuel Foster  [Obituary]

Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1887, Vol XIX, pp.43-44.


Rev. W. Harpley

Prepared by Michael Steer

The philanthropist Samuel Foster’s obituary was read at the Association’s July 1887 Plympton meeting. Poverty and philanthropy were essential features of Victorian Britain. For example, philanthropists appear throughout Dickens’ novels, not just as a dramatic device to offer hope (or not) to impoverished characters but also as a subject in their own right. Dickens’ novels capture the contradictions of Victorian philanthropy – the enormous need for generosity in an age where poverty and plenty literally rubbed shoulders, together with the inadequacy of so much of the charity actually provided. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Samuel Foster, formerly of Newton Abbot and Plymouth, resided for many years during the latter portion of his life at Abergeldie, Torquay. He was a man of extremely benevolent and charitable disposition, and ever ready to lend his aid to objects legitimately requiring it. He joined the Association in 1878. In 1881 he became a member of the Torquay Natural History Society, and very regularly attended the lectures there. He died at his residence at Torquay on the 19th December, 1886, aged 70 years. Among his bequests the following were made to charitable institutions: To the Exeter Blind Asylum, £1000; to the Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, £1000; to the Blind Asylum. North Hill, Plymouth, £1000; to the Royal Albert Hospital, Devonport, £1000; to the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society, Plymouth, £500; to the Torbay Infirmary, Torquay, £500; to the United Kingdom Beneficent Association, Berners Street, London, £500; and to the Newton Abbot Cottage Hospital, £300.