William Forster was born on October 16, 1818 in Madras, India, son of Thomas Forster, Army Surgeon in the British Army in India. He accompanied his parents when they were transferred back to Ireland in 1882, and there the young William began his first formal education. In 1829 the family again moved, to New South Wales. William completed his education in this country and showed two distinct leanings - Literature and Politics.

During the period 1834 - 1855 he selected land and farmed it, generally as a cattle grazier, although he spent some of his time in authorship of articles of a political nature to various publications in Sydney.

He also accompanied two expeditions of an exploratory nature seeking to know more of the land he had adopted as his home. The first expedition was to Port Phillip, whilst the second was a survey of the Clarence River area.

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