User:Charles Matthews/Thomas Fuller

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FULLER, THOMAS (1608-1661), divine, born June 1608, was the son of Thomas Fuller, rector of St. Peter's, Aldwincle, Northamptonshire. Thomas Fuller the elder was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. 1587-8, and M.A. 1591. He became rector of St. Peter's in September 1602. About 1607 he married Judith, daughter of John Davenant, a London citizen, sister of John Davenant, afterwards bishop of Salisbury [q. v.], and widow of Stephen Payne, by whom he had Thomas and six younger children. He appears to have been a steady clergyman of moderate principles. Thomas Fuller the younger was for four years at a school kept by Arthur Smith, in his native village, where he learnt little. He was afterwards taught more successfully by his father. Aubrey (Letters, 1803, vol. ii. pt. ii. 355) says that he was a boy of 'pregnant wit,' and often joined in the talk of his father and his uncle Davenant. When just thirteen years old he was entered at Queens' College, Cambridge (29 June 1621). His uncle, who was at this time president of Queens' College and Lady Margaret professor of divinity, had also just been nominated to the bishopric of Salisbury. The tutors of the college were Edward Davenant, the bishop's nephew, and John Thorpe, whom Fuller calls his 'ever honoured tutor.' He graduated B.A. 1624-1625, M.A. 1628.

Bishop Davenant was a model uncle. He had appointed the elder Fuller to a prebendal stall at Salisbury in 1622, and had obtained the election of a nephew (Robert Townson) to a fellowship at Queens'. He wrote several letters in 1626 and 1627 to the master of Sidney Sussex (printed in Bailey's Life from Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian) endeavouring to obtain a fellowship at that college for Fuller. Fuller, in spite of applications from the bishop, had been passed over at Queens'. According to his anonymous biographer, he had resigned his claim in favour of a more needy candidate from Northamptonshire, because two men from one county could not hold fellowships at the same time. He entered Sidney Sussex afterwards as a fellow-commoner, but he never obtained a fellowship. In 1630 he was appointed by Corpus Christi College to the perpetual curacy of St. Benet's, Cambridge, taking orders at the same time. Here he buried the carrier Hobson, who died of the plague in the winter of 1630-1. He contributed to a collection of Cambridge verses on the birth of the Princess Mary (4 Nov. 1631); and in the same year published his first book, 'David's Hainous Sinne, Heartie Repentance, Heavie Punishment,' in which his characteristic conceits supply the place of poetry. It was dedicated to the three sons of Edward, first Lord Montagu, at Boughton, in the neighbourhood of Aldwincle, with whose family he had many friendly relations. Edward, the eldest son, was at Sidney Sussex, of which his uncle, James Montagu, had been the first master. On 18 June 1631 Fuller was appointed by his uncle to the prebend of Netherbury in Ecclesia in Salisbury (Appeal, i. 286). He calls it 'one of the best prebends in England.' His father died intestate about this time, administration of his effects being granted to the son 10 April 1632. On 5 July 1633 Fuller resigned his Cambridge curacy, and in 1634 was presented by his uncle to the rectory of Broadwindsor, Dorsetshire, then in the diocese of Bristol. In 1635 he took the B.D. degree (11 June), when four of his chief parishioners showed their respect by accompanying him to Cambridge (Life, p. 10). His hospitality on the occasion cost him 1401. He twice speaks of having resided seventeen years in Cambridge, which would imply some stay there until 1638 (Church History, ed. Brewer, lxiv. 43; Appeal, pt. i. 28). Before January 1638 he was married to a lady whose Christian name was Ellen. Her surname is unknown. In the spring of 1639 he published the first of his historical writings, the 'History of the Holy Warre,' that is of the crusades. It shows much reading, and more wit, and was very popular until the Restoration.

In the spring of 1640 Fuller was elected to the convocation as proctor for the diocese of Bristol. He gave an account of the proceedings in his 'Church History' and his 'Appeal.' Fuller's sympathies were always in favour of moderation. He objected to the severity of a proposed 'Canon for the restraint of Sectaries.' After the dissolution of parliament, the convocation was continued as a synod. Fuller says that it was only by an oversight that he and others did not formally protest against the prolongation of their sittings. The minority, however, submitted; a benevolence was voted, and canons were passed. Heylyn states that 'one of the clerks for the diocese of Bristol ' (Life of Laud, pp. 405-6; see Bailey, p. 191), probably meaning Fuller, proposed in committee a canon upon enforcing uniformity in ritual drawn up in 'such a commanding and imperious style' that every one disliked it except himself. The statement was made after Fuller's death. Fuller felt bound to subscribe the canons, in spite of his disapproval of some parts of them, and they received the royal assent.

Fuller was probably not in