Richard Witty Foster

Richard Witty Foster (20 August 1856 – 5 January 1932)[1] was an Australian politician. He began his career in the Parliament of South Australia (1893–1906) and served two terms as Commissioner of Public Works in liberal and conservative governments. He was elected to federal parliament in 1909 as a Liberal, later joining the Nationalists. He was Minister for Works and Railways (1921–1923) under Prime Minister Billy Hughes, eventually losing his seat at the 1928 election.


Richard Foster
Portrait of R. W. Foster (cropped).jpg
Minister for Works and Railways
In office
21 December 1921 – 9 February 1923
Prime MinisterBilly Hughes
Preceded byLittleton Groom
Succeeded byPercy Stewart
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Wakefield
In office
28 August 1909 – 17 November 1928
Preceded byFrederick Holder
Succeeded byMaurice Collins
Personal details
Born(1856-08-20)20 August 1856
Goodmanham, Yorkshire, England
Died5 January 1932(1932-01-05) (aged 75)
St Peters, South Australia
NationalityAustralian
Political partyLiberal (1909–17)
Nationalist (1917–22)
Liberal (1922–25)
Nationalist (1925–28)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Lees
OccupationGrocer

Early lifeEdit

Foster was born in Goodmanham, Pocklington, Yorkshire, England and educated at Prospect House, Tockwith and apprenticed to a draper. He emigrated to South Australia in 1880 and established a business as a grocer and general provider at Quorn. He married Elizabeth Lees in September 1884. He was elected to the Corporate Town of Quorn council in 1887 and was mayor from 1890 to 1892.[2]

South Australian politicsEdit

 
Studio portrait of Foster by W. Hammer & Co., Adelaide

On 19 April 1893, Foster was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly as the member for Newcastle, a seat he held until Newcastle was abolished on 2 May 1902.[1] From 3 May 1902 until 2 November 1906, Foster represented Flinders.[1] He was Commissioner for Public Works from 8 December 1899 to 4 July 1904[1] and Minister for Industry from 1902 to 1904 in the liberal governments of Frederick Holder and John Jenkins. He resigned from the ministry in 1904, but still supported Jenkins until it fell in 1905 and was then Commissioner for Public Works and Minister for Agriculture in the conservative administration of Richard Butler, but lost his seat in 1906.[2]

Federal politicsEdit

Foster won the seat of Wakefield in the House of Representatives at a 1909 by-election, standing for the Liberal Party. In December 1921, he was appointed Minister for Works and Railways in the Hughes ministry, but was dropped from the ministry in February 1923 by Stanley Bruce. He refused to join the South Australian Country Party and was beaten by its candidate, Maurice Collins in the 1928 elections.[2]

Foster died in the Adelaide suburb of St Peters on 5 January 1932, survived by his wife, three daughters and a son.[2]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Richard Witty Foster". Former Member of Parliament Details. Parliament of South Australia.
  2. ^ a b c d McDonald, D. I. (1981). "Foster, Richard Witty (1856 - 1932)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 9 November 2007.
Civic offices
Preceded by
John Lord
Mayor of Quorn
1890–1892
Succeeded by
John Rock
Parliament of South Australia
Preceded by
Joseph Hancock
Member for Newcastle
1883-1892
Served alongside: Thomas Burgoyne
Succeeded by
Electorate abolished
Preceded by
William Tennant Mortlock
Member for Flinders
1902-1906
Served alongside: Thomas Burgoyne
David McKenzie
Succeeded by
John Travers
Political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Handyside
South Australian
Commissioner of Public Works

1899 – 1904
Vacant
Title next held by
Richard Foster
Vacant
Title last held by
Richard Foster
South Australian
Commissioner of Public Works

1905
Succeeded by
Thomas Price
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Frederick Holder
Member for Wakefield
1909 – 1928
Succeeded by
Maurice Collins
Political offices
Preceded by
Littleton Groom
Minister for Works and Railways
1921 – 1923
Succeeded by
Percy Stewart