Wednesday, December 24, 2003


17 April 1834, page 3

The Late John Fuller, Esq.

We regret to announce the death, on Friday last, at his
residence in London, after a tedious illness, of John Fuller,
Esq., of Rose Hill, in this county, aged 78 years. This
gentleman, better known by the name of "Honest Jack
Fuller," represented the county of Sussex during several
successive Parliaments, for a period of more than twenty
years, and was made celebrated by a well-known scene in the
House of Commons, -- when he called the Speaker " a little
insignificant fellow in a wig," -- for which he was committed
to the custody of the Sergeant-at-arms. He was distin-
guished throughout life by much eccentricity, mingled with
a kind heart that displayed itself in actions of princely
munificence: of this his splendid benefactions to the Royal
Institution are only one example.
Mr Fuller died extremely rich. The bulk of his fortune,
consisting of estates in Sussex and the island of Jamaica,
are left to Augustus Elliot Fuller, Esq., brother of Captain
Fuller, R. N.
, and a nephew of the deceased, as also of Lord
. The estates in London are left to Sir Peregrine
, another nephew. Besides which there are very
numerous legacies.
The following anecdote, which may be relied on, of Mr
Fuller, is not generally known. During Mr Pitt's adminis
tration a messenger arrived at Rose Hill with the offer of a
Peerage, on the condition that Mr Fuller should vote in a
particular manner on some question of the day. Mr Fuller,
who at the moment had a large party of friends assembled
at his dinner table, directed the messenger to be ushered
into the dining room to receive his answer. In his presence
and that of his guests, Mr Fuller threw the letter into the
fire telling the messenger at the same time to acquaint the
Minister with the manner in which his offer had been re-
ceived, and adding -- "I was born Jack Fuller, and Jack
Fuller I will die."
The tenants are to meet the funeral at Robertsbridge on
Saturday, and accompany it to the mausoleum built by Mr
Fuller at Brightling, where his remains will be interred.
Mr Fuller stood successfully a severely contested election
with Colonel Sergisson, which lasted sixteen days, and cost
the former 20,000l., in addition to a subscription purse of
30,000l., made by the county. The expences incurred by
Mr Sergisson were, we believe, equally heavy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Extract from "Sussex" by S.P.B. Mains

Pages 172-173. First Printed 1929. The Richard Press Ltd.

We turn south here, leaving the Tunbridge Wells-Hastings railway on the east of us, and cross or wander along the valley of the Dudwell, a tributary of the Rother, in order to visit Brightling Beacon (646 feet) and Dallington. The Early English church of Brightling contains a bust of John Fuller, the patron of J.M.W. Turner. There is a fifteenth-century brass and fourteenth century stained glass. On the Beacon Fuller built an obelisk, called the Needle, and an observatory. When he was offered a peerage, Fuller said, "I was born Jack Fuller and Jack Fuller I'll die." He founded the Fullerian professorship and bought Bodiam Castle when it stood in some danger of being destroyed. He had a reputation for swearing in Parliament and once referred to the Speaker as "the insignificant little fellow in a wig." He armed his coachmen and footmen with swords and pistols whenever he drove to London.
Dallington has a stone spire set on its solid church tower, which bears the emblem of the Pelham buckle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Extract from "Highways & Byways in Sussex" by E.V. Lucas

Pages 380-381, Macmillan and Co, Limited 1912

Four miles west of Robertsbridge, up hill and down, is Brightling, whose Needle, standing on Brightling Down, 646 feet high, is visible from most of the eminences in this part of Sussex.
The obelisk, together with the neighbouring observatory, was built on the site of an old beacon by the famous Jack Fuller - famous no longer, but in his day (he died in 1834 aged seventy-seven) a character both in London and in Sussex. He was big and bluff and wealthy and the squire of Rose Hill. He sat for Sussex from 1801 to 1812, and was once carried from the house by the Sergeant at Arms and his minions, for refusing to give way in a debate and calling the Speaker "the insignificant little fellow in a wig." His election cost him £10,000 plus £30,000 subscribed by the county. When Pitt offered him a peerage he said no: "I was born Jack Fuller and Jack Fuller I'll die." When he travelled from Rose Hill to London Mr. Fuller's progress was almost regal. The coach was provisioned as if for arctic exploration and coachman and footmen alike were armed with swords and pistols. ("Honest Jack," as Mr Lower remarks, put a small value upon the honesty of others.) Mr. Fuller had two hobbies, music and science. He founded the Fullerian professorships (which he called his two children), and contributed liberally to the Royal Institution; and his musical parties in London were famous. But whether it is true that when the Brightling choir dissatisfied him he presented the church with nine bassoons, I cannot say.
John Fuller has a better claim to be remembered in Sussex by his purchase of Bodiam Castle, when its demolition was threatened, and by his commission to Turner to make pictures in the Rape of Hastings, five of which were engraved and published in folio form in 1819, under the title Views in Sussex. One of these represents the Brightling Observatory as seen from Rosehill Park. As a matter of fact, the observatory, being of no interest, is almost invisible, although Mr. Reinagle, A.R.A., who supplies the words to the pictures, calls it the "most important point in the scene". Furthermore, he says that the artist has expressed a shower proceeding "from the left corner". Another picture is the Vale of Ashburnham, with the house in the middle distance, Beachy Head beyond, and in the foreground woodcutters carrying wood in an ox waggon. "The whole," says Mr. Reinagle, A.R.A., "is happily composed, if I may use the term." He then adds: "The eye of the spectator, on looking at this beautifully painted scene, roves with an eager delight from one hill to another, and seems to play on the dappled woods till arrested by the seat of Lord Ashburnham." Other picutes in the folio are "Pevensey Bay from Crowhurst Park," a very beautiful scene, "Battle Abbey," and " The Vale of Heathfield," painted from above the road, with Heathfield House on the left, the tower on the right, the church in the centre in the middle distance, and the sea on the horizon: an impressive but not strictly veracious landscape.
In Brightling church is a bust to John Fuller, with the motto: "Utile nihil quod non
honestum." A rector in Fuller's early days was William Hayley, who died in 1789, a zealous antiquary. His papers relating to the history of Sussex, are now, like those of Sir William Burrell, in the British Museum.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Jack Fuller Founds Yeomanry Cavalry Troop, Claims Expenses From the Earl of Egremont

The threat of a French invasion by Napoleon led to the establishment by Jack Fuller of a Yeomanry Cavalry troop in Sussex:

[To the Earl of Egremont]
Captain of Yeomanry Cavalry
36 Devonshire Place 30 Nov 1799
I have enclosed voucher specified in the last letter I had the honour of receiving from you and if you wish either send me a draft or give an order for the payment of same at Messrs Coxes and Greenwood. I shall be much obliged to you.
I have the honour to remain very sincerely faithfully etc

[memo to himself]
received of the Earl of Egremont a draft upon Messrs Coxes and Greenwood for the equipment of my troop consisting of 40 men at 3£ per man making one hundred and twenty pounds.

The Threat from Napoleon and the Fear of Invasion

God Save the King

Let us, who are Englishmen protect and defend our good King and country against the attempts of all republicans and levellers, and against the designs of our natural enemies, who intend in this year to invade Old ENGLAND, our happy country, to murder our gracious king as they have done their own, to make WHORES of our wives and daughters; to rob us of our property, and teach us nothing but the damn'd art of murdering one another.


If you love your Country, and your liberty
Now is the time to shew your love


All who have good hearts, who love their king
their country, their religion, who hate the FRENCH and damn the pope


Lieut. W. J. Stephens
at His rendezvous SHOREHAM

where they will be allowed to Enter for any Ship of WAR, and the following BOUNTIES will be given by his majesty in Addition to two Months Advance

To Able Seamen Five pounds
To Ordinary Seamen Two pounds Ten Shillings
To Landmen Thirty Shillings

Conduct - money paid to go by land, and their chests and bedding sent carriage free.
Those men who have served as petty-officers and those who are otherwise qualified will be recommended accordingly.

[William 1747-1830 and Arthur 1759-1824 Lee at 64 High Street]

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Fact Finding Mission

Since my arrival in England on July 3, 2003 I have gathered much data and many resources to further my research. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and encouragement of many people who have gone out of their way to help. I would particularly like to thank David Gasson and Henry Grissell of Brightling for their time and willingness to lend resources.

My husband and I have just returned to Lewes from a 17 day tour of the West Country (counties of Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall). Among the fascinating places we visited are Buckland Abbey, former home of the Fuller Eliott Drakes and Killerton, former home of the Aclands. I have been taking digital pictures and have gathered enough information to keep me busy updating the main website and genealogy site for months to come.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

The Sussex Spaniel

Many sources credit Augustus Elliot Fuller, MP (1777 - 1857) a keen huntsman and sportsman, with originating the Sussex Spaniel breed. They say he kept the breed for 50 years. Other sources say a," Mr Fuller of Rose hill" started the breed in 1795. This is confusing because A. E. Fuller inherited Rosehill, Brightling upon the death of John "Mad Jack" Fuller in 1834. Perhaps A. E. Fuller kept Sussex Spaniels before he inherited Rosehill. I have no evidence that Jack Fuller kept Sussex Spaniels.

A. E. Fuller was the son of John Trayton Fuller (c. 1743 - 1811) and Anne Elliot (1754 - 1835) of Ashdown House, Forest Row (now a school). John Trayton Fuller's father Thomas Fuller (1715 - 1780) and John "Mad Jack" Fuller's father Henry Fuller (1713 - 1761) were brothers.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Windmills in Sussex

The Round House at Lewes

This smock mill, built in 1801, is thought to be the only one in Sussex to have been funded by public subscription. The name "John Fuller MP" appears on the list of some 65 subscribers as contributing £10.

Rodmell Post Mill

Guy Blythman of the Sussex Industrial Archaeological Society writes this about the Rodmell Post Mill on the The Lost Windmills of Sussex page:

On 16th June 1810, the owner John Fuller, sold the mill for £700 to John Glazebrook. During a violent storm late in 1825, the crowntree was struck by lightning, which then passed down the main post to the ground, but the mill was not seriously damaged. A year later, in December 1826, John Glazebrook died and was succeeded by his son William who remained at the mill for some 50 years.

Inquiries as to whether this John Fuller is Mad Jack Fuller have, as yet, remained unanswered.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

The Gutenberg Bible Mystery

We are currently trying to unravel a mystery that surrounds Jack Fuller's bequest of a copy of the Gutenberg Bible to his old school, Eton College. This two-volume Bible is described as a "perfect paper copy... with contemporary pigskin over wooden boards. Blind-stamped by Johann Fogel of Erfurt...the only copy in a binding by Fogel which bears his name stamped in blind on the covers. John Fuller of Rosehill, Sussex presented this copy to Eton in 1841."
John Fuller died on 11 Apr 1834. It seems odd that this gift, bequeathed by Fuller in his will took 7 years to makes its way to Eton College's Library. I contacted Eton College and received this reply from Penny Hatfield:

As far as we are aware the College's copy of the Bible was a bequest from the Fuller who dies(sic) in 1834 and came to the College in that year. Records of gifts at that period are almost non-existent so I suppose it is possible that it did not actually arrive in the Library until some time later, but certainly we have always viewed it as acquired in 1834.

Douglas Clausen of Clausen Books of Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, editor of the Gutenberg Bible Census page, writes:

I have double-checked my sources, and all indicate that 1841 was the date that the copy was donated to John Fuller of Rose Hill, Sussex.

It is entirely possible that an early researcher got his facts wrong and the error was perpetuated by all the other scholars, or perhaps Mad Jack's family didn't hand over the bible until 1841.

We may never resolve this discrepancy. Can anyone shed any light on the subject?

Sunday, February 02, 2003


John "Mad Jack" Fuller is now featured in this electronic encyclopedia. The entry takes the form of a timeline and links back to the Mad Jack Fuller homepage.

Monday, January 27, 2003

East or West

I came across this quote from David Blayney Brown:

"Probably in the same year [1809] Turner visited Sussex landowner, Jack Fuller at Rosehill Park, Brightling to begin work on a picture of the estate.
It was possibly Fuller who commissioned the series of watercolours of West Sussex which were later engraved as Views in Sussex."

The question is surely Brown means East Sussex - as the pictures show Brightling Park, the Vale of Heathfield, the Vale of Ashburnham, Pevensey Bay and Battle Abbey - all firmly in East Sussex.

"The Art of JMW Turner", David Blayney Brown, Knickerbocker Pr; ISBN: 1577150309

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Where is the Portrait of George Augustus Elliot, Lord Heathfield, Governor of Gibraltar?

Michel-Edouard Nigaglioni, Conservator of Historic and Artistic Patrimony of Bastia, Corsica, is researching the work of 18th Century Corsican painter Anthony de Poggi. Of particular interest is a painting called "George Augustus Elliot, Lord Heathfield, Governor of Gibraltar", 10 Sep 1788. An engraving of this work by Francesco Bartolozzi is owned by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London. Nigaglioni would like to know the whereabouts of the original painting.

Anthony de Poggi lived in London where he was a publisher and print seller. He exhibited his works at the Royal Academy from 1776 to 1781. Many portraits were done of George Augustus Eliott in 1787, the year he was raised to the peerage of Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar.

Lord Heathfield appears in John "Mad Jack" Fuller's family tree. George Augustus Eliott's daughter, Anne Eliott married Fuller's first cousin John Trayton Fuller on 21 May 1777. Their son Augustus Elliot Fuller inherited Rose Hill from Mad Jack. Augustus Elliot Fuller was MP for Sussex from 1841 until his death in 1857.