Born in Paris the son of a circus performer, de Forest led an adventurous life. He was made a baron by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria Hungary, served in the British Army, broke the world land speed record, sponsored a prize for the first English person to fly the Channel and rode the Cresta Run at St. Moritz. After moving to Britain De Forest became active in the Liberal Party and was elected to the London County Council in 1910. Selected to fight the West Ham North by-election he increased the Liberal majority on a platform which included land nationalisation, female suffrage and Irish Home Rule. In parliament de Forest served on Lloyd George’s Land Enquiry of 1912, penning a dissenting memorandum to the final report advocating land nationalisation. After leaving the House of Commons de Forest moved to Lichtenstein where he became a diplomat and a count.