Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Dr. Matthew Fuller

Male Abt 1605 - 1678  (~ 73 years)

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  • Name Matthew Fuller 
    Prefix Dr. 
    Birth Abt 1605  England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3, 4
    Gender Male 
    Alternate birth Bef 1610  England Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Death Between 25 Jul 1678 and 22 Aug 1678  Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6
    Person ID I8981  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TNH
    Last Modified 2 Oct 2022 

    Father (Unknown First Husband Of Edward Fuller's Unknown Wife) 
    Mother (Unknown wife of Edward Fuller)   d. Aft 11 Jan 1621, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F22669  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Frances Hunsden   d. Aft 30 Oct 1678, Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Marriage 22 Jul 1633  St. Magdalene, Pulham Market, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [7, 8
    • Donald G. Blauvelt (citation details below) notes that the parish of Pulham Market, where this marriage took place, is a mere three parishes distant from Redenhall, thus implicitly lending support to the Redenhall model of the origins of the Edward1 and Samuel1 Fuller.
    +1. Elizabeth Fuller   d. Aft 7 Mar 1715, Colchester, New London, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID F120  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 2 Oct 2022 

  • Notes 
    • 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, 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.

      Update, 2 Oct 2022:

      It would appear that Blauvelt, along with all the other genealogists who doubted that Dr. Matthew Fuller was a son of the Mayflower passenger Edward Fuller, was correct. The lead article in the Summer 2022 issue of Mayflower Descendant (Pamela Paschke and Raymond T. Wing, "The Fuller Family of Redenhall, Norfolk, England: Initial Report on the Fuller Big Y DNA Project", MD 70:101) summarizes and explains the results of DNA tests done on documented direct-male-line descendants of Dr. Matthew Fuller; of Samuel2 Fuller, the proven son of Edward Fuller the Mayflower passenger; of Robert Fuller of Salem and Rehoboth, who arrived in 1638 or 1639 and died in 1706; of John Fuller, likely son of Samuel2, and of Dr. Samuel1 Fuller, brother of Edward and also a Mayflower passenger himself. To quote the article directly, "The NGSY-DNA results demonstrate that Matthew cannot be Edward's son or descendant, and, that the immigrant Robert Fuller is more closely related to Matthew than Matthew is to Edward. In sum, all three men are kinsmen, but no father-son relationship occurs among them."

      In the same issue of Mayflower Descendant, Blauvelt himself contributes an article, "Matthew Fuller of Barnstable in the Plymouth Colony: Was He a Mayflower Descendant?" (citation details below). In it he proposes a resolution to the twin facts that (1) John Fuller, son of Dr. Matthew, called Samuel2 Fuller, son of Mayflower passenger Edward1 Fuller, his "vnkell", and yet (2) DNA results strongly indicate that Dr. Matthew cannot have been a son of Mayflower passenger Edward. The proposition, for which Blauvelt says he will provide further proof in an article to come, is that Dr. Matthew Fuller was a son of the unknown wife of Mayflower passenger Edward1 Fuller and thus a stepson of Edward1. This would make Dr. Matthew Fuller and Samuel2 Fuller maternal step-brothers and make Samuel2 Fuller indeed "vnkell", specifically a half-uncle, to Dr. Matthew Fuller's son John. In anticipation of further proof to this effect, we have revised our database to reflect this model while keeping in mind that it is, so far, a provisional solution. Obviously, if true, it would mean that the descendants of Dr. Matthew Fuller could continue to claim Mayflower ancestry, a desiderata of vast worth to some.

  • Sources 
    1. [S101] The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3 and The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volumes 1-7, by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1996-2011.

    2. [S1647] The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony 1620-1633, by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New York Historic Genealogical Society, 2004.

    3. [S4249] The Mayflower Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth, 1620 by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2020.

    4. [S6732] Pamela Paschke and Raymond T. Wing, "The Fuller Family of Redenhall, Norfolk, England: Initial Report on the Fuller Big Y DNA Project." Mayflower Descendant 70:101, Summer 2022.

    5. [S1508] Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle, Robert M. Sherman, and Robert S. Wakefield, "Was Matthew Fuller of Plymouth Colony a Son of Pilgrim Edward Fuller?" The American Genealogist 61:194, 1985.

    6. [S634] Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Volume 4, Third Edition, Family of Edward Fuller by Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle. Plymouth, Massachusetts: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2006.

    7. [S6730] Donald G. Blauvelt, "Ralph Jones of Barnstable, Massachusetts, and His Probable Two Wives." The Mayflower Descendant 68:148, 2020.

    8. [S6731] Donald G. Blauvelt, "Matthew Fuller of Barnstable in the Plymouth Colony: Was He a Mayflower Descendant?" The Mayflower Descendant 70:121, Summer 2022.