Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fuller, Nicholas

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FULLER, NICHOLAS (1557?–1626), hebraist and philologist, the son of Robert Fuller by his wife Catharine Cresset, was a native of Hampshire, and was born about 1557. He was sent successively to two schools at Southampton, kept by John Horlock and Dr. Adrian Saravia respectively. He entered, in the capacity of secretary, the household of Horne, bishop of Winchester, who, by discussing points of theology at meal times, inspired him with an earnest desire for study. On Horne's death Fuller, through the influence of Dr. William Barlow, the late bishop's brother-in-law, was allowed to fill the same office to Bishop Watson. His work was now less to his taste, and, on Watson's death in 1584, he determined to have no more to do with civil affairs, of which, as he afterwards said, he was thoroughly wearied, and to live a scholar's life. His means were insufficient for his purpose, but he obtained an appointment as tutor to William and Oliver Wallop, and, accompanying them to Oxford, instructed them by day, while he pursued his own studies at night. He was a member of Hart Hall, and graduated B.A. 30 Jan. 1586, and M.A. 30 March 1590. He found a warm friend and adviser in Robert Abbot [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Salisbury. He took orders, and was presented to the living of Allington, Wiltshire, the income of which was very inadequate, 'ecclesiola' rather than 'ecclesia' he called it. The duties, however, were light, and Fuller applied himself to the study of languages, especially in their bearing on theology. He corresponded with foreign scholars, and in 1612 he published at Heidelberg, at Sir Henry Wallop's expense, 'Miscellaneorum Theologicorum, quibus non modo scripturæ divinæ sed et aliorum classicorum auctorum plurima monumenta explicantur atque illustrantur, libri tres.' Fuller was disgusted with the number of printer's errors which disfigured his work in this edition, and in 1616 printed another at Oxford under his own supervision. To this he added a fourth book and a preface, partly autobiographical. He had in the meantime, 14 Oct. 1612, become a prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral. Bishop Cotton, it was said, had heard of his learning, and visited Fuller with the object of testing it; he was so satisfied with the proofs he received that he at once offered him the prebend's stall. A third edition of the 'Miscellaneorum' was published at Leyden in 1622, with the addition of an 'Apologia,' a good-humoured reply to Drusius, the Belgian critic, who had virulently attacked him in his 'Notes on the Pentateuch.' Another edition issued in 1650, after Fuller's death, contained two more books. The work was also reprinted in Pearson's 'Critici Sacri.' Fuller left several manuscripts, some of which are preserved at Oxford; his 'Dissertatio de nomine יהוה' was published in Reland's 'Decas exercitationum philologicarum' (1707). He also compiled a lexicon, which may not have been completed, and was not published. He died in 1626. His learning was remarkable even among his fellow-students, and he is spoken of in high terms of admiration by Buxtorf (Dissertatio de Nominibus Hebrais) and by Pocock (Nota Miscellanea in Portam Mosis). The famous Thomas Fuller [q. v.] describes him as 'happy in pitching on (not difficult trifles, but) useful difficulties tending to the understanding of scripture,' and adds that 'he was most eminent for humility' (Worthies, Hants, p. 12, ed. 1662). Fuller was married, and had a son and daughter named Michael and Catharine.

[Preface to 2nd ed. of Miscellaneorum; Fuller's Worthies of England, loc. cit.; "Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed Bliss, i. 236, 257; Leigh's Treatise of Religion and Learning, pp. 201-2.]

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