Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Dr. Matthew Fuller

Male Abt 1605 - 1678  (~ 73 years)

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Generation: 1

  1. 1.  Dr. Matthew Fuller was born about 1605 in England (son of Edward Fuller and (Unknown wife of Edward Fuller)); died between 25 Jul 1678 and 22 Aug 1678 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts.

    Other Events:

    • Alternate birth: Bef 1610, England


    Arrived in Plymouth before 26 Oct 1640, when he sold to Andrew Ringe land in Plymouth "lately bought of John Gregory." Removed to Barnstable at an unknown date, but he was lieutenant of the Barnstable militia in October 1652.

    "He was one of the first regular physicians to settle at Barnstable. He 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." [MacGunnigle et al., citation details below.]

    "In the Quaker controversy, he was in favor of religious toleration; in 1658 he was presented for saying; 'The law enacted about ministers' maintenance was a wicked and devilish law, and that the devil sat at the stone when it was enacted'; which he admitted that he uttered, and for which he was fined 50 shillings." [Ancestors and Descendants of Andrew Lee and Clarinda Knapp Allen by Gerald R. Fuller. Esther Fuller Dial, ed. The Andrew Lee Allen Family Organization, 1952.]

    There have been many doubts over the years that Matthew Fuller was a son of Mayflower passenger Edward Fuller. Following research by Francis H. Fuller published in 1901-02 in the NEHGR, the emigrant Matthew was generally agreed to have been the Matthew Fuller baptised 16 Oct 1603 to John and Margaret Fuller at Redenhall, Norfolk, this John Fuller presumed (without positive evidence) to have been a younger brother to the brothers Edward Fuller baptized 4 Sep 1575 at Redenhall and Samuel Fuller baptized in 1580 at the same place, both of them sons of Robert Fuller of Redenhall, a butcher, and both of whom are widely accepted (on not entirely convincing evidence; see our entry for Robert Fuller the butcher) to be the same individuals as the brothers Edward and Samuel Fuller who travelled in 1620 on the Mayflower. For the next 83 years, Matthew Fuller was dropped from lists of Mayflower descendants, and descent from him was no longer accepted as qualification for membership in various lineage societies.

    Then in 1985, Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle and Robert S. Wakefield published a paper co-authored with the late Robert M. Sherman, "Was Matthew Fuller of Plymouth Colony a Son of Pilgrim Edward Fuller?", in The American Genealogist [61:194]. They highlighted two early records linking Dr. Matthew to Edward. The first record shows that in 1652, Matthew and Edward's proven son Samuel jointly purchased land in Barnstable from Thomas Allyn. The second record shows that on 3 Jun 1662, both Samuel2 Fuller and "Lt. Fuller" (i.e., Dr. Matthew Fuller, who was approved as lieutenant in 1652) both received a share of a grant made to 33 Plymouth Colony men "as being the first borne children of this government." This was in keeping with a 1636 law, still in effect in 1662, that stated "It is enacted by the Court that such children as are heer borne and next unto them such as are heer brought up under their parents, and are come to the age of descretion allowed and want [i.e., lack] lands for their accommodations, bee provided for in place convenient before any that either come from England or elsewhere".

    MacGunnigle et al. continue:

    "It is apparent that the children of those who came to Plymouth before 1627 qualified for this grant, yet William Pontus, who seems to have come from Leiden, Holland, in 1629 or 1630, and Samuel Eddy, who came in 1630, apparently from England, also received shares. Two entries give some clue as to who did not qualify: 'Anthony Anible, for his daughter, Hannah Burman' and 'William Nelson, by right of his wife'. Thomas Burman (or Boardman) was from London and was in Plymouth by 1635; William Nelson was in Plymouth by 1636. Yet both had to receive shares by their wives' rights. William Hoskins who was in Plymouth by 1634 (he married first Sarah Cushman) and George Partrich who was in Plymouth by 1635 (he married Sarah Tracy) also received shares, which might be because of their marriages, or perhaps they were in Plymouth earlier than their first appearance in the records. Why would Matthew Fuller, who apparently came to Plymouth about 1640, probably from England, be included in this grant? The only apparent reason would be that he was a son of Edward Fuller."

    A final piece of evidence concerns the settlement of a property dispute between, on the one hand, our Matthew Fuller and Samuel2 Fuller — yes, them again — and Steven Skiff and John Blacke, alias Blackwell, of Sandwich. MacGunnigle et al.: "On 30 June 1680 'Samuel Fuller, Senir of Barnstable [son of Edward]' quitclaimed to 'Steuen Skiffe of Sandwich...and the towne of Sandwich' his rights to certain lands at Scorton in Sandwich, over which there had been 'much contest heertofore,' with Skiff agreeing that Fuller have certain rights in land at Scorton. Following this agreement is the statement by John Fuller (son of Dr. Matthew Fuller) that he 'doth aquiessey in this agreement of his vnkells and Steuen Skiffes….' and that he had received 'full satisfaction respecting the lands… [of] the Fullers and Sandwich mens.' The clear implication of this statement is that John was the nephew of Samuel, son of Edward; hence that Dr. Matthew is Samuel's brother, and so also Edward's son."

    This last seems to us like powerful evidence. It is true that many terms of genealogical relationship were used in the 17th century in slippery and variable ways, leading later researchers to tear their hair trying to parse exactly what was meant by "kinsman" or "cozzin". But John Fuller, son of Matthew, is here clearly calling Samuel2 Fuller, son of Mayflower passenger Edward1 Fuller, his "vnkell". There does not seem to be a lot of room for ambiguity here.

    Robert Charles Anderson certainly seems to accept it in the Fuller chapters of The Great Migration Begins and The Pilgrim Migration. On the other hand, recently Don Blauvelt, in the course of what appears to be a carefully-researched article ("Edward Fuller of the Mayflower and His Unnamed Wife: Corrections and Observations," The Mayflower Quarterly Magazine vol. 86, no. 1, p. 32) correcting a number of persistent errors about Edward Fuller, is dismissive, describing the 1985 article by MacGunnigle et. al. as "purporting" to prove that Matthew was a son of Edward. Blauvelt does not offer any argument against theirs; his purpose in this portion of his article is to show that the Mayflower passenger never lived in Leiden (a case he argues very convincingly) and that, to the contrary, in the second decade of the 1600s he probably lived in England, in supporting evidence of which he quotes a large portion of the 1614 will of Robert Fuller the Redenhall butcher, which Blauvelt complains that MacGunnigle et al. summarized imperfectly.

    Like MacGunnigle et. al, Blauvelt makes well-researched and hard-to-refute claims backed with strong primary documentation. Aside from his aforementioned original work on the question of whether Edward Fuller ever lived in Leiden, Blauvelt also presents a strong case for how James Savage, in his 1860-64 Genealogical Dictionary of New England, managed to accidently assign the known name of Edward Tilley's wife, Ann, to the wife of Edward Fuller, leading to decades of copycat errors. But Blauvelt is clearly committed to the idea that the Mayflower Fuller brothers were sons of the Redenhall butcher; indeed, he has gone to the trouble of obtaining, with the permission of modern Redenhall parish authorities, his own copy of the microfilmed parish records, records which have yet to be filmed by the LDS. Using this he has been able to show that the date given for over a century for the Redenhall baptism of Samuel Fuller, son of Robert, 20 Jan 1580/1, is wrong, and that the records actually say 20 Feb 1580/1. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Blauvelt is anything but correct on this point, but it speaks not at all to the question of whether Samuel (and Edward) of Redenhall were in fact the Mayflower brothers. And this level of investment in the Redenhall model of their origins can, one supposes, account for Blauvelt's irritability over MacGunnigle et. al's 1985 article, which, in passing on its way to its primary argument, was the first modern piece to point out the weakness of the overall case for that model.

    Matthew married Frances before 1630 in England. Frances died after 30 Oct 1678 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts. [Group Sheet] [Family Chart]

    1. Elizabeth Fuller was born after 1630 in England; died after 7 Mar 1715 in Colchester, New London, Connecticut.

Generation: 2

  1. 2.  Edward Fuller was born before 4 Sep 1575 (son of Robert Fuller and Sara Dunkhorn); died after 11 Jan 1621 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

    Other Events:

    • Baptised: 4 Sep 1575, Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England


    Emigrated 1620 to Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the Mayflower. A signer of the Mayflower Compact, he died in the first winter.

    In 2020 Don Blauvelt (citation details below) published evidence that, contrary to many authorities, including the eminent Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, Edward Fuller and his (name unknown) wife were never among the separatists living at Leiden from 1611 to 1620, and that the documentary evidence that had previously been taken to point to Edward Fuller of Redenhall actually referred to an Eduwaert Fauwler of the Hague, spelled in English Edward Fowler, who in 1612 owed Leiden stonemason Pieter Biijs (i.e. Buys) for stone that Biijs had delivered to Fauwler. Edward Fowler also appears in records of the Hague in 1613 and 1622, and his signature on the 1622 record is identical to that on the record of 1613.

    It has been noted that the evidence that Edward Fuller and his brother Samuel were actually the Edward and Samuel Fuller baptized in Redenhall is, as Robert Charles Anderson put it, "not so strong as might be desired." For more on this see our entry on Robert Fuller, butcher of Redenhall.

    Edward married (Unknown wife of Edward Fuller) before 1605. (Unknown died after 11 Jan 1621 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts. [Group Sheet] [Family Chart]

  2. 3.  (Unknown wife of Edward Fuller) died after 11 Jan 1621 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts.


    Emigrated 1620 to Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the Mayflower. Died in the first winter. Savage calls her Ann, but there appears to be no actual evidence of her given name.

    1. 1. Dr. Matthew Fuller was born about 1605 in England; died between 25 Jul 1678 and 22 Aug 1678 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts.
    2. Samuel Fuller was born about 1608 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England; died on 31 Oct 1683 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Generation: 3

  1. 4.  Robert Fuller died between 19 May 1613 and 31 May 1614 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England.


    He was a butcher.

    Robert Fuller and his wife Sarah Dunkhorn are generally accepted as the parents of Mayflower passengers Edward and Dr. Samuel Fuller, who were definitely brothers, but the case for this parentage is not overwhelmingly strong.

    From "Was Matthew Fuller of Plymouth Colony a Son of Pilgrim Edward Fuller?" by Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle, Robert M. Sherman, and Robert S. Wakefield, The American Genealogist 61:194, 1985:

    Pilgrims Edward and Samuel Fuller came to Plymouth MA in 1620 on the Mayflower and have been accepted as sons of Robert Fuller of Redenhall, co. Norfolk, England (NEHGR 55:410-416). The two major pieces of evidence leading to this conclusion are the baptisms of Edward and Samuel to Robert Fuller, butcher, at Redenhall in 1575 and 1580, and the will of Robert Fuller, of the parish of Redenhall, yeoman, dated and proved in 1614. In his will Robert named wife Frances, son-in-law John Spaulding, and son Thomas; he gave son Edward a "tenement" and £20, son Samuel £15, daughter Ann Fuller £20, daughter Elizabeth Fuller £40, daughter Mary Fuller £40, and "grandson John Fuller, son of my son John Fuller" £5 for his apprenticeship (NEHGR 55:415-416).

    Is this sufficient to prove that the Mayflower Fullers were from Redenhall? The names Edward and Samuel were not uncommon and there was no known child named Robert in the early generations of descendants of those two Pilgrims. Their presumed father, Robert of Redenhall, was called butcher in the parish registers. Thomas Morton, writing in New English Canaan (Amsterdam 1637), said Samuel Fuller was brought up a butcher, and was a native of Wrington in Somerset; but when Samuel married Agnes Carpenter at Leiden, Holland, in 1613 they were recorded as "sayworker from London" and "spinster from Wrington" (MD 8:129-130). Robert Fuller, living in a small Norfolk town, gave no indication in his will that son Samuel was in Holland; Samuel of Plymouth Colony was a physician of sorts, an elder of the church, and seems to have been an educated man.

    Robert married Sara Dunkhorn on 29 Jan 1573 in Starston, Norfolk, England. Sara died before 1 Jul 1584 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England; was buried on 1 Jul 1584 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England. [Group Sheet] [Family Chart]

  2. 5.  Sara Dunkhorn died before 1 Jul 1584 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England; was buried on 1 Jul 1584 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England.
    1. 2. Edward Fuller was born before 4 Sep 1575; died after 11 Jan 1621 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts.
    2. Dr. Samuel Fuller was born before 20 Feb 1581; died between 30 Jul 1633 and 28 Oct 1633 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts.