At a time when the Conservative government are attempting a major reform of the nations education system, it's worth sparing a thought for a politician who really changed the education of this country for the better – William Edward Forster MP. He died on this day in 1886, having passed the 1870 Education Act which introduced elementary education for all children.
9. William Edward Forster (1818-1886)
Victoria Embankment, Temple Section, WC2
Sculptor H. R. Pinker, Bronze, 1890
William Edward Forster was a Victorian philanthropist, reformer
and politician. Forster received a Quaker education and as a young
man was an anti-slavery campaigner while training to be a lawyer.
Forster took to business rather than law and made his fortune in
the Bradford wool trade. He was expelled from the Quaker church
when he married outside the religion in 1850 and then devoted
much of his energy to the local Liberal Party. He became MP for
Bradford in 1861 and was soon appointed to Gladstone’s cabinet,
doing much to carry the 1870 Education Act which ensured universal
elementary education. Forster had a great interest in Irish politics and
was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1880. He was a fierce
supporter of the union and there were several assassination plots
against him. When Gladstone changed his mind on home rule Forster
resigned from office and became one of his most determined critics.
This monument commemorates his role as educational reformer.
This monument is one of over 200 featured in the latest edition of London's Monuments.