Matthew Forster (1796 – 1846) became a Lieutenant in the British Army at the age of 16, and the following year served in the Peninsular War, eventually becoming a Brigade Major.
He married a niece of Colonel Arthur, Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land and sailed in the Mary Ann for Hobart, arriving in 1831. Soon he was appointed Chief Police Magistrate and a little later to the Legislative Council. In 1836 he replaced Chief Justice Pedder in the Executive Council.
He drew up an important report on the police establishment and always insisted on efficiency. He advocated complete freedom of religious teaching in schools and supported government aid for non-conformist churches. After Franklin’s arrival, many changes occurred in the convict system and Forster was given the new post of Controller-General of Convicts with a status equal to that of the Colonial Secretary, Montagu.
Over the next three years the convict system was beset with difficulties and Forster’s health suffered. He asked for two years’ leave but before a reply was received he died suddenly.
A monument to his memory stands in the church yard of St John’s Church, New Town.