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Forster Green

Philanthropist and Business Man, died 1903

Forster Green was best known as a Philanthropist and a Business Man.  He died on 21st October 190 and is buried at Friend’s Burial Ground, Balmoral in Belfast. Forster was married twice - first to Mary Boadle of Whitehaven and later to Jane Houlding of Preston.  He had 8 children, 7 of whom died of Tuberculosis, a common (at the time) and in many cases lethal infectious disease.


He attended Friends School, Lisburn and went to Liverpool for 3 years before returning to set up his company.  He established the firm of Forster Green & Co. tea and coffee merchants, which was extremely successful and had premises all over Belfast. He had also been Life Governor of the Royal Victoria Hospital.


After suffering the distress of seeing seven of his children die as a result of Tuberculosis, he decided to use his considerable fortune to establish a hospital in a forty acre estate on the outskirts of Belfast, built with the purpose of treating those afflicted by the illness. The hospital was established in 1897.


In 1881, the Belfast Women's Temperance Association (BWTA) first began the charitable work of rescuing "young girls from homes made miserable by poverty, unemployment and abuse of alcohol and to prevent the possibility of them becoming prostitutes or involved in other kinds of crime." The BWTA founded 6 homes for these at risk girls, one of which was the Forster Green Home, which was funded by and named after Forster Green and his wife Jane. It is believed that Mr Green had given the BWTA a blank cheque and requested that the charity fill in the amount of the cost of building another home. At the time girls who entered the homes were taught cookery, laundry work and farm work in all its branches, including poultry keeping. Older girls who worked hard and showed special promise were given the opportunity to take a course in Domestic Science at the Belfast Technical College.


In the 1880s Forster gave £400 towards the rebuilding of the Lurgan Quaker Meeting House which at the time was a substantial portion of the rebuilding cost.