Friday, November 18, 2011

He Was a Passenger on the Mayflower in 1620.

Edward Fuller (1575-1620/21)
I trace my ancestry to Edward Fuller through the line of
my grandmother, Annetta May Jones,
wife of Charlie Burton Thornburg.

Edward Fuller came to Plymouth in the Mayflower, 1620, with his wife, a son, and his brother Samuel. Edward was the 21st signer of the Mayflower Compact which was signed in the Cabin of the Mayflower, Nov. 11th, Old Style, Nov. 21st, New Style, 1620. The document shows the location as “Cap-Codd.”

Why was there a need for a legal document? Northern Virginia, the intended destination, was governed by the English. But the crew of the Mayflower  sighted land off of Cape Cod on November 19 and chose to set anchor there. This was well to the North of their intended destination and not covered by the patent granting permission to settle. The Pilgrims realized that if they settled in this location, there would be no government in place. The passengers therefore entered into the Mayflower Compact.

The day following the business of the Mayflower Compact was the Sabbath, and the Pilgrims spent that day on board the ship, giving thanks for their safe and successful journey to the New World. Over the next weeks, they explored more along the coastline, and on December 31, they anchored at a harbor now known as Plymouth Harbor. They explored the harbor for three days, eventually deciding on the location of Plymouth as the best suited.

Edward and Samuel were sons of Robert Fuller, a butcher of Redenhall, Norfolk, England.    It is recorded that in 1588, Robert Fuller made a contribution towards the purchase of the sixth of the famous chimes of eight bells in St. Mary's Church at Redenhall. Edward was baptized there on 4 September 1575.  Robert’s first wife Sara Dunkhorn who died in 1584was the mother of Edward and Samuel. Named in Robert’s will was a second wife, Frances.

St. Mary's Church, Redenhall
Fuller Family Records are located here.

Redenhall was about 25 miles from the English home of John Robinson, prominent elder and pastor of the Pilgrims. It is likely that the Fuller family had heard and been influenced by Robinson’s preaching, probably accounting for their joining the pilgrimage to a new land for the sake of religious liberty.

Initially, the plan for the pilgrimage voyage to America was to travel in two ships. Speedwell was to bring some passengers from Holland to England, then on to America where it would be kept for a fishing business, with a crew hired for support services during the first year. A second larger ship, Mayflower, was leased for transport and exploration services. In July 1620, Speedwell departed Delfshaven with the Leiden colonists. Reaching Southampton, Hampshire, they met with Mayflower and the additional colonists hired by the investors.

With final arrangements made, the two vessels set out on August 5 (Old Style)/August 15 (New Style). Soon after, the Speedwell crew reported that their ship was taking in water, so both were diverted to Dartmouth, Devon. There it was inspected for leaks and sealed, but a second attempt to depart also failed, bringing them only so far as Plymouth, Devon. It was decided that Speedwell was untrustworthy, and it was sold. The ship's master and some of the crew transferred to Mayflower for the trip, with supplies consolidated.  Of the 121 combined passengers, 102 were chosen to travel on Mayflower, departing September 6 (Old Style)/September 16 (New Style).

Mayflower II, a replica

Less than half of the 102 passengers came to the New World for religious reasons. These were the Separatists, many being followers of Robert Browne, a famous dissenter from the Church of England. The initial Leiden group had gone to Holland in 1608 from the general region of England where Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire meet (from towns like Scrooby and Austerfield.) Over time, additional members arrived and had joined the church in Leiden, especially from Separatist groups from Canterbury and Sandwich, Kent; Norwich and Yarmouth, Norfolk; Colchester, Essex; and London. As passengers in the Mayflower, the Leiden group are usually referred to as “saints.”

The rest of the Mayflower complement was made up of “strangers,” mostly members of the Church of England who came from London and southeast England, hired by the Merchant Adventurers, sponsors of the voyage, to settle in the colony.  This second group, the London Group, were associated with the investors who were putting their money into the joint-stock company the Pilgrims were using to fund their voyage. Some had Puritan sentiments. Some were relatives of the Leiden group, but who had not made the migration to Holland. Some simply wanted to start a new life with new opportunities.  Also aboard the ship were servants and hired hands.

Mayflower II, a replica

Historians have attempted to list the names of the Mayflower passengers in categories based on research. One of my lists shows as “strangers” the names (1)Edward Fuller, (2)Ann Fuller, his wife, (3)Samuel Fuller, their son. Among the “saints” in that listing, is Samuel Fuller, physician. A more recent list, made up of names only of the men, was compiled for viewing at; it moves Edward Fuller over from the London Group into the Leiden Group, next to his brother Samuel. [In Volume Four, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle explains, “ It has recently been discovered that Edward and his unnamed wife were among the English Separatists living in Leiden, Holland.” Edward is mentioned in Leiden Judicial Archives 79, L, Folio 172 verso.]

Edward and his wife (name not known) had two sons—Matthew and Samuel. [James Savage calls Edward’s wife Ann, but there is no known evidence that this was her name.]  My descent is from the older brother Matthew who was born in England, probably in about 1603. He did not embark in the Mayflower with his parents and brother, but came with a later group of emigrants to the new colony, appearing on record there in 1640, as head of a family. His marriage to Frances ___, had occurred in England before 1630.

The following appears in Bradford’s History of Plimouth Plantation in the  section titled Passengers of the Mayflower (1651)--  “Edward Fuller, and his wife, and Samuell, their sonne.” Also recorded by Bradford was a listing for Edward’s brother Samuel. Bradford further states: “Edward ffuller, and his wife dyed soon after they came ashore; but their sonne Samuel is living, and married, and hath 4 children or more.” Edward died soon after 11 January 1620/1. This date is confusing, but one must remember that before 1752, the year began on March 25th; dates between  Jaunary 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year, not the beginning.   

Edward’s brother, the  renowned doctor Samuel Fuller, was able to render valuable service to both Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony in their fights against epidemics and heavy mortality due to the privations of early colonial life. Edward’s orphaned son Samuel was brought up by this uncle, Dr. Samuel Fuller, who died at Plymouth between  9 August 1633 and 26 September 1633. The next year, young Samuel was made freeman of the Colony, and about that time removed to Scituate, where he was married, 8 April 1635, "ye 4th day of the weeke," by Captain Myles Standish, of Plymouth, to Jane, daughter of the Reverend Mr. John Lothrop, who was then in charge of the church at Scituate. In 1644, Samuel was admitted an inhabitant of Barnstable, where he lived until his death, which occurred 31 October 1683.

My ancestor, Matthew Fuller, was Edward’s older son. He came to America several years after the Mayflower  voyage, probably bringing with him his wife and several children. He arrived in Plymouth before 26 October 1640 at which time he sold land lately purchased of John Gregory. Matthew was propounded a freeman in 1642, served as a juryman, and was assigned ten acres of land. In 1643, he was chosen sergeant in the newly established “military discipline.” He was termed “of Plymouth” in a quitclaim from Samuel Fuller on 16 March 1648.  Matthew  lived in Plymouth for about ten years, then moved to Barnstable where by this time his brother Samuel was living. Records in 1650 show Matthew residing in Barnstable,  following  the profession of physician, the first on record in that locality.

Colonial Settlements in Massachusetts

In Barnstable, Matthew Fuller took a noble stand in favor of religious toleration. He lived near neighbors to some of the most prominent of the Quakers, and was connected by marriage alliances with some who felt the severity of the laws passed against the sect. He went so far as to censure this law in strong terms in public. For this he was fined by the magistrates. Though indiscreet in speech, the Court continued to confer offices of trust and honor upon him--a most unusual course which shows that his honor and bravery were never doubted. In his public and private life he was a man of sound judgment, of good understanding, faithful in performance of duty, liberal in politics, tolerant in religion.
In October 1652, the Court approved Matthew Fuller’s election as lieutenant of the Barnstable militia. In published Plymouth Colony Land Records in 1667, he was called Captain. On 17 December 1673, he was appointed  Surgeon General of the Colony troops. He served as captain of the Plymouth Colony forces during King Philip’s War.

Matthew Fuller lived in the northwest corner of Barnstable at Scorton Neck and owned land in Falmouth and Middleboro which had been granted to him by the Colony for distinguished service. He died a wealthy man, for the times, leaving a lengthy will, dated 25 July 1678. His inventory was dated 22 August, 1678. Transcripts of both are recorded in the Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories, Volume III, Part II, Pages 127-129.

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The Pilgrims' story of seeking religious freedom has become a central theme of the history and culture of the United States. Researching the FULLER FAMILY has given me the opportunity to personalize this part of my heritage and its associated history.

genieBev (genealogy Beverly)
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