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?