Foster, David Blyth

Born into a WM family at Holme-upon-Spalding on 28 June 1858, he became a local preacher at 17. Initially entering the drapery trade as an apprentice in Pudsey, he then became a shop manager in Morley. Then in 1887 he launched his own successful business in Leeds, purchasing a lucrative drapery business in 1897. At this time he was a local preacher in the Leeds WM Mission,, being given a free hand at Bethel, Sweet Street in the Holbeck slums by the Superintendent, Samuel Chadwick.

Because of his own Tolstoyan Christian Socialist beliefs, he gave up his business in 1897, handing it over to his workforce, and became an electrician on a worker's wage. He set up the Tolstoyan Brotherhood movement in Holbeck in 1892, joined the Labour Church in 1895 and then formed his own Christian Socialist Church. Though he appears to have ultimately ceased to be a local preacher, he continued to preach in Methodist and other Leeds churches. In latere life he appears to have associated with the Quakers, probably at the Adel Meeting House.

He held various offices in the socialist community in Leeds. In 1902 he became secretary of the Labour Representative Committee, and was full-time Secretary of the Leeds Independent Labour Party 1912-1916. After many attempts, in 1911 he was elected as a Labour Councillor for West Hunslet, became an Alderman and was Lord Mayor in 1928. Among his publications was Leeds Slumdon (1897) and he edited The Social Crusade, first published in September 1931. He died on 10 July 1948.

  • D.C. Dews, in Yorkshire Wesley Historical Society, No.73, Sept. 1998 pp.5-10
  • D.B. Foster, Life Story' (Leeds. 1921)
  • Tom Woodhouse, Nourishing the Liberty Tree: Liberals and Labour in Leeds, 1880-1914. (Keele. 1996)


See also

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person
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