J S Forsaith

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A Brief History of the Forsaith Family

There were two 'J S Forsaiths'.

John Smyth Forsaith (1804-1883, my g/g/gfthr) was the founder of the printing firm in the 1840s, I think; his first son was John Stokes Forsaith (1839-1902), his second son (my g/gfthr) William Valentine Forsaith (1847-1889). They were all involved in the family business at Bethnal Green Road. My father's cousin, John W Forsaith sold it c. the 1950s. I have a copy of the printed history of the firm. The firm also printed a Forsaith family tree during the war when there was not much to keep the presses rolling.

I have two family portraits, of John Smyth Forsaith and William Valentine Forsaith which date from around 1880. They are in fact photographs painted over in oils but are still rather fine in their way. My cousin 'Living' Forsaith (he has a son John - the 6th John, it gets very confusing) has a gold sealing ring which is pictured on JS's watch chain.  The family came to London in the late 18th century, although the first Forsaith we can trace, Samuel, died in Lincolnshire in 1751 leaving property in Hampton upon Thames. His son Samuel appears in a trade directory c1770s as a jeweller in Birmingham, but his son (another Samuel) had a haberdasher's shop in the Shoreditch from the start of the 19th century. I have a pair of silver tablespoons hallmarked London,1800 monogrammed 'SEF' -Samuel Forsaith married Elizabeth Smyth in 1800 and I wonder if they were a wedding present from his father. The family grave is in the Bunhill Fields, City Road, the capital of Dissenting graveyards. 

So you can see that we have quite a lot of East London roots. Maybe over Christmas I can disentangle some of these for you and present you with a coherent account. I wonder if the EoLFHS has a copy of the history of 'J S Forsaith & Sons'? I would be happy to photocopy it.

Finally, John Smyth Forsaith's half brother was Rev Thomas Spencer Forsaith who emigrated to New Zealand, became a leading Congregational minister and was also a leader of one of the early NZ governments, though before the term 'prime minister' is really correct. Go to http://www.archives.presbyterian.org.nz/Page162.htm

Holding Page - more information to come.


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