Saturday, December 21, 2002

Stolen Turners Recovered After Eight Years

Among the many scientists, musicians and artists that John "Mad Jack" Fuller supported and patronized was acclaimed painter JMW Turner. On 20/12/2002 Britain's Daily Telegraph reported:

Two Turner paintings stolen from the Tate's collection eight years ago and insured for £24 million have been recovered. The two Biblical works by the master Romantic landscape artist were taken while on display in Frankfurt, Germany. The 19th century works, described as two of Turner's most significant paintings, were found intact but without their original frames. One is titled Shade And Darkness: The Evening Of The Deluge, the other Light And Colour (Goethe's Theory): The Morning after the Deluge. They are now back in Britain and will go on display at Tate Britain from January 8. Tate chiefs were reluctant to talk about the recovery today as it could hamper the chances of finding a third artwork, from a German collection, stolen at the same time. Shade and Darkness was actually recovered in July 2000, but the discovery was kept secret while investigations continued. Light and Colour was recovered on Monday and both paintings were brought back to the UK on Wednesday.Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said: "These two paintings are amongst Turner's most important works and, in their references to Goethe's colour theories, show him to be at the forefront of European intellectual inquiry."

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2002

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Michael Faraday and John Fuller

"Up to 1833 Faraday was bringing the forces of nature in subjection to man on a salary of only £100 per annum, with house, coals, and candles, as the funds of the Institution would not at that time afford more; but among the sedate habitues of the place was a tall, jovial gentleman, who lounged to the lectures in his old fashioned blue coat and brass buttons, gray smalls, and white stockings, who was a munificent friend in need. This was John Fuller, a member of Parliament. He founded a Professorship of Chemistry, with an endowment that brings in nearly £100 a year, and gave the first appointment to Faraday for life. When the Institution became richer, his income was increased; and when, on account of the infirmities of age, he could no longer investigate, lecture, or keep accounts, the managers insisted on his still retaining in name his official connection with the place, with his salary and his residence there. Nor, indeed, could they well have acted otherwise; for, though the Royal Institution afforded in the first instance a congenial soil for the budding powers of Faraday, his growth soon became its strength, and eventually the blooming of his genius, and the fruit it bore, were the ornament and glory of the Institution."

Extracted from: MICHAEL FARADAY by J. H. GLADSTONE, PH.D., F.R.S.
More here.

Friday, October 11, 2002

A Peerage Scorned

"There is a popular story that at some time during his political career, Fuller was offered a peerage by William Pitt [the Younger], presumably either to encourage his support or to get rid of him. Fuller is said to have declined the offer adding: 'I was born Jack Fuller and Jack Fuller I'll die.' Perhaps it was around this time [1783] the offer was made, although the two men were to meet up again in Parliament in later years."

Source: Hutchinson, Geoff, Fuller of Sussex: A Georgian squire (Hastings, Sussex: M & W Morgan, 1993, revised 1997) ISBN 0-9519936-6-6, Page 38

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Eastbourne Lifeboat: What Was Her Name?

The search continues for the name of the first Eastbourne Lifeboat, a gift to the town from Mad Jack Fuller in 1822. It is difficult to imagine that a boat of this importance was not formally named and launched. Attempts to learn the boat's name from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution Museum have failed.

In response to a posting on the Sussexpast Yahoo group site, Ros Chislett provided several leads which are being followed up. Lifeboat - In Danger's Hour by Patrick Howarth (Hamlyn, 1981) ISBN 0-600-34959-4, considered to be a "lavishly illustrated authoritative history of the RNLI" is one of the sources recommend. A reading list compiled by the RNLI can be viewed at

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Fuller Parliamentary Tradition

John Fuller (1680-1745) was MP for the county of Sussex in 1715. He was a Tory and by 1734 considered one of the three main leaders of the opposition in the county to the dominant Whig The Duke of Newcastle.
The other opponents were Sir Cecil Bishop and Thomas Sergison (John 'Mad Jack' Fuller would later face Colonel Warden Sergison as opponent in the 1807 election). Fuller and Bishop teamed up to contest the election of June 1734 hoping to win the two Sussex county seats - they were unsuccessful.
The result:
Henry Pelham 2271 votes
James Butler 2053
Sir Cecil Bishop 1704
John Fuller 1581
They were facing powerful opponents; they were heavily outspent; and the Whigs also had a concerted registration drive with a "prodigious number of false" votes according to Fuller.
The Honourable Henry Pelham (1695-1754) went on to become Prime Minister 1743-54. He was the brother of Thomas Pelham-Holles, first Duke of Newcastle, (1693-1768). His brother's interest had already provided him a seat in Parliament, first for the small borough of Seaford in 1717, then for the county of Sussex in 1722.
Newcastle succeeded his brother Henry Pelham as Prime Minister on the latter's death in 1754. He was Prime Minister 1754-6 and 1757-62. During his second term in office, he headed a coalition with William Pitt the Elder, until Pitt's resignation in 1761.

Crossley, D.W., & Saville, R.V., The Fuller Letters: Guns, Slaves and Finance 1728-1755 (S.R.S.
[Sussex Record Society] 1991) ISBN 0-85445-037-8

The West India lobby

John Fuller married Elizabeth Rose in July 1703 - she was the daughter of Dr Fulke Rose. She had inherited plantations in Jamaica. Here started the Fuller Jamaica connection - sugar, rum, slavery and all.
After the death of John Fuller in 1745, his son John (1706-1755) took a more pragmatic approach to the Whig administration - after all the Fuller family fortune depended on a strong navy to control the routes to the West Indies and orders for cannon for that navy.
When his brother Rose Fuller returned from Jamaica in 1755 he became MP for Rye and later was a key figure in the West India lobby in Parliament. This grouping, also known as the Jamaica interest, consisted of sixty or seventy members who protected the slave trade and profited from the sugar business.
But who were these people? To be continued....

Monday, September 02, 2002

Votes for Sale

William Cobbett stood for Parliament in Honiton in 1806 - his autobiography gives an explicit description of the corruption in parliamentary elections in the early 1800s:

Now, as to the state of this borough, who shall describe it?
Who shall describe the gulph wherein have been swallowed the fortunes
of so many ancient and respectable families? There was, the electors
would tell you, no bribery. They took a certain sum of money each,
according to their consequence; 'but this', they said, 'came in the
shape of a reward after the election and, therefore, the oath might be
safely taken'. Considered as a question of morality, how contemptible
this subterfuge was need hardly be noticed; but, to say the truth, they
did not deceive themselves, and I must do them the justice to say, that
they were not very anxious to deceive anybody else. They told you,
flatly and plainly, that the money which they obtained for their votes,
was absolutely necessary to enable them to live; that, without it, they
could not pay their rents; and that, from election to election, poor
men ran up scores at the shops, and were trusted by the shopkeepers,
expressly upon the credit of the ensuing election; and that, thus, the
whole of the inhabitants of the borough, the whole of the persons who
returned two of the members to every parliament, were bound together in
an indissoluble chain of venality.
The poorest of the people made a sort of pun upon my name as
descriptive of my non-bribing principles, and moulded their sentiments
into a cry of: 'Bread and Cheese, and no empty Cupboard'; and some of
them in a very serious and mild manner, remonstrated with me upon my
endeavour to deprive them of the profits of their vote, or, in their
own phrase, ' to take the bread out of poor people's mouths'.

Monday, August 19, 2002

No Popery Favours

In response to this inquiry posted to the Sussex Past web group:

In his book "Georgian Lewes", Colin Brent writes that John Fuller spent a lot of money during his 1807 election campaign on "No Popery Favours" and meals at local inns. Can anyone shed any light as to what these favours might have been?

This response was recieved:

Colin Brent says these were ribbons, with "No popery" on them, to be worn by his supporters, as more conventionally party colours would be worn as ribbons during election campaigns.
Esme Evans (Hon. Librarian).
Sussex Archaeological Society Library

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Camera Obscura

Recently Alan Jackson of Leeds replied to a request for information about the camera obscura at Brightling Observatory that I had left in a guestbook. He wrote:

"I do know that the camera obscura at Brightling Observatory was still there before and during the first part of WWII when my parents lived there. No special knowledge was required for use. It must have been removed sometime later - it was not there when Mother revisited the 'obse' in the seventies."

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Fuller Gunfounding

"In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the government relied almost exclusively on Wealden production for its requirements of cast iron ordnance. Guns made by the Fullers at Heathfield were put to service in many parts of the world."

Teesdale, E. B., Gunfounding in the Weald in the Sixteenth Century
(London: Royal Armouries, 1991) ISBN 0-948092-17-3

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The Fullers' Progress: A Study of a Remarkable Sussex Family, 16th-19th Centuries

By Alec Parks with illustrations by Rosemary Brown

This engaging booklet, originally published in 1987 and reprinted in 1991, follows the fortunes of the Fuller family from their arrival at Waldron through three Centuries. Parks makes it clear that he finds the, "general preoccupation with the last John Fuller's eccentricities rather irritating. " He highlights the family's shrewd business acumen, foresight and achievements through several generations. Interesting ink drawings by Rosemary Brown and a photograph of a painting of John Fuller & Elizabeth Rose's family add to the readers enjoyment. (many thanks to Alice Tibballs)

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Saving Lives: Eastbourne Lifeboat

Jack Fuller was a man ahead of his time. He often got in on the ground floor when innovations were being made. For example, he provided a lifeboat for a new station at Eastbourne in 1822, two years before the Royal National Lifeboat Institution was founded by Sir William Hillary. The boat was 25 ft long, was 8 ft 6 in across the beam and had ten pulling oars. She was built by a Mr. Simpson of Eastbourne.

The name of this ship has not yet been discovered by the writer. However, she is credited in saving 35 lives during 7 services. Many medals and honours were bestowed upon her officers and crew.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Georgian Lewes By Colin Brent

[extracted from Georgian Lewes, 1714-1830, The Heyday of a County Town by Colin Brent]
"Less edifying was the contest at Lewes in 1807. Between Tuesday 12 May and Thursday 28 May 5019 freeholders cast 4333 votes for the Westerner Charles Wyndham, 2530 for John Fuller of Brightling, and 2473 for Colonel Sergison of Cuckfield. The Easterners clashed over Emancipation for Roman Catholics and West Indian slaves. The High-Tory Folly-building Fuller opposed both. The moment the polling ended, the Mobility tore apart the hustings by the Sessions House and carried the fragments away, claiming "immemorial" custom. It greeted the result - Sergison being the "popular" candidate, by tossing rotten eggs into the balconied Great Room at the White Hart, Fuller's campaign headquarters. Sergison then spoke from a window of the Star, assuring his partisans that a Sheriff's scrutiny of the poll would overturn Fuller's trivial majority. So they dragged the Colonel and his carriage in triumph up the High Street, to rendezvous at the barracks with Whig confederates marching in from Brighton. Though the Sheriff refused a scrutiny, Fuller's victory had proved expensive. As well as the No Popery favours, he paid for almost 2000 dinners at the White Hart, and as many at the Dorset Arms, "an East Country House" popular with freeholders from Hastings Rape."

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Jack Fuller's Pub

On Saturday, 5/11/02 Richard from Tunbridge Wells wrote this entry in the Jack Fuller guestbook:
"Hi, I thought I would write to confirm that Jack Fullers has indeed re-opened as a pub and it is well worth a visit. It's at Oxley's Green which is just outside Brightling village on the road to Robertsbridge. The new owners have clearly put a lot of effort into the place, and when I stopped there for lunch last Wednesday I was highly impressed and will definitely be returning soon. The food is excellent and very good value for money, and the whole place has a wonderful atmosphere to it. John Fuller would certainly give it his approval! So if you're passing the area, or want to try somewhere that's off the beaten track I would definitely recommend this pub. The phone number is 01424 838212. "

Unfortunately he did not leave an email address so I can not thank him personally. So I will do so publicly...Thanks for your comments Richard. My understanding is that the Jack Fuller pub is a "free house" and so not affiliated with any brewery. I would welcome the opportunity to either create a page for the pub or provide a link from my site to theirs.

In the meantime....raise a glass of cheer to Squire John Fuller, long may he be remembered! Cheers!

NB: Correct address and phone number for pub is:

Jack Fullers,Brightling Road, Oxley Green, Brightling, East Sussex TN32 5HD

01424 838212

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Jack Fullers - Brightling

News that the former Jack Fuller's restaurant has reopened in spring 2002 as a pub. The new public house returns the premises to it's former use with bars, restaurant, accommodation and a function room. The pub dates back to circa 1830 and offers a range of handpumped beers including Harvey's excellent Sussex bitter. Telephone 01424 383212.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

Mad Jack and Bodiam Castle

"Bodiam Castle played a part in the life of John Fuller and it would be quite reasonable to state that but for the action of the colourful squire in 1828 there would be no castle to view at all.
For in 1828 Bodiam castle was nothing more than a decaying neglected shambles of a building. The damage inflicted during the Civil war in 1645 had been allowed to deteriorate to such a state that the castle was in danger of having to be totally demolished. A firm of Hastings builders stood ready to carry out the task.
However a last ditch attempt to find a purchaser was made and posters were displayed which declared 'the ancient castle of Bodiham and 25 acres of land' were to be sold by auction under the hammer of Mr George Robins of Covent Garden, London - by direction of a man of rank. The auction would take place 'at the Auction Mart, opposite the Bank of England, on Thursday 18th September 1828, at Twelve o'clock.
The man of rank - and owner of the castle at that time - was Baronet Sir Godfrey Webster, of the well known Sussex family, who were also owners of the nearby Battle Abbey estate.
..........Such was the sorry condition of the abbey estate in 1742 that the architect Sir Horace Walpole was prompted to note that 'the grounds and what has been the park, lie in a vile condition'. It would appear that Bodiam Castle had declined to the same level in 1828. Thankfully this time there was to be a saviour.

Source: "Fuller of Sussex, A Georgian Squire" - Geoff Hutchinson

"In 1829 Bodiam Castle was almost a wreck. A local man wanted to buy it in order to use it's stones in his buildings. Lord Curzon tells of its purchase by Fuller to save it from absolute destruction.
When the third Sir Godfrey Webster was hard-up he sold, for £3000, the castle and lands, amounting to 24 acres, 3 roods and 8 perches, to 'Honest Jack' who restored the southern Postern Tower and fitted folding oak gates in the main entrance. When Fuller died his cousin Augustus Elliot Fuller, inherited the castle as tenant for life. He was followed by his only son, Owen John Augustus Fuller, who married Clara Meyrick and assumed the additional name Meyrick.
He sold the castle and manor in 1864, to George Cubitt, MP (later the first Lord Ashcombe) for something over £5000.
Lord Curzon bought the castle from Ashcombe, restored it thoroughly and then gave it to the nation.
We have to thank 'Honest Jack' for saving, for us all, one of the finest castles in the south. The museum by the castle contains a picture of him in memory of his public spirited action."

Source: "John Fuller Esquire of Rose-Hill" - James Lawrie

Mad Jack in Love

In this case it was unrequited love. Jack Fuller made a proposal of marriage to Susannah Arabella Thrale in 1790, when he was 33, and was rebuffed. He never married.
Jack took it hard and tried to torment Susannah, then 20, for her refusal. In 1790 a Mrs Henrietta Henckell Hare wrote to a friend that:
'Our neighbour at Rose-Hill has been lately refused by Miss Susan Thrale. He is so angry with her that he has brought down a woman of the town to Tunbridge Wells on purpose to distress her by following her about everywhere. If this is the fact I think him a great fool.'
In 1781 Fuller had been a favourite of Susannah's elder sister Hester (Queenie) but mother did not approve.
Mad Jack had much to commend him as a young man - he was very wealthy and not unpleasing to look at - in 1779 Fanny Burney described him thus: "He is a Young man of a very large Fortune, remarkably handsome, and very gay, sensible, unaffected and agreeable."
He was not without suitors. Fanny Burney tells us "Peggy Pitches, who is the greatest little Coquet in sussex, fixed her Eyes, and aimed her dart, at Captain Fuller, - she smiled, tittered, lisped, languished, and played pretty all the Evening, - but the Captain was totally insensible, -he has, indeed, so little passion for flirtation...."
Surely John Fuller would have been aware that he was something of a catch and that he would attract attention for all the wrong motives.

"John Fuller Esquire of Rose-Hill" - James Lawrie
"Journals and Letters" - Frances Burney
"Fuller of Sussex, A Georgian Squire" - Geoff Hutchinson

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Mad Jack in Parliament

1780 (January) bye-election
John Fuller, elected Member of Parliament, for Southampton Borough at age 22.
His opponent was Cranley Kerby, the majority 124.
1780 General Election
John Fuller re-elected - the result:
Fuller 264
Sloane 249
Fleming 237
The first two candidates were elected to Parliament i.e. Fuller and Sloane.
1784 General Election: John Fuller did not stand for re-election.
1801 John Fuller elected Member of Parliament for Sussex - need election result
1802 John Fuller re-elected - need election result
1806 John Fuller re-elected - need election result
1807 General Election
Hon Charles W Wyndham - 4,333 (elected - the only candidate for the Western Division)
John Fuller - 2,530 (elected for the Eastern Division)
Colonel Warden Sergison - 2,478
The 'Slavery versus Popery' election. John Fuller might have faced George Shiffner
at the election, who was proposed and supported by the same interest as Sergison,
in favour of Catholic emancipation, but he withdrew. Fuller and Shiffner were distantly
related and Shiffner had originally invited Mad Jack to stand in 1801.
After one of the most scurrilous campaigns and a close result accusations flew about
vote rigging. Sergison petitioned the High Sherrif for redress and subsequently
petitioned Parliament. Both were refused.
1810 February 27 - A (drunken) incident with the Speaker in Parliament
leads to him being seized by the Serjeant at Arms and to public disgrace.
1812 General Election: John Fuller did not stand for re-election.

"Fuller of Sussex, A Georgian Squire" - Geoff Hutchinson
East Sussex Record Office
"John Fuller Esquire of Rose-Hill" - James Lawrie

Sunday, April 07, 2002

Jack Fuller in Brighton

The diaries of Frances "Fanny" Burney d'Arblay make mention of Jack Fuller in Brighthelmstone (now Brighton). "Captain Fuller's apartments are on the Steyn, and he has his men all drawn out before the House, and under arms, against we came."
This was in May 1779 - does anybody know which house this was?