Fuller, Thomas (1654-1734) (DNB00)

FULLER, THOMAS, M.D. (1654–1734), physician, was born at Rosehill, a country house in the parish of Brightling, Sussex, 24 June 1654. His family had for some time been seated there, and are believed by the parishioners to have grown rich during the period of iron-smelting in Sussex. A small inn which stands near the remains of the village stocks at the foot of the ascent on the top of which is Rosehill has for its sign the arms which are to be seen in some of the doctor's books (in the possession of C. J. Tatham of Clare College, Cambridge), argent, three bars with a canton in chief gules, and which are supposed to allude to the forging of bars and ploughshares by the ancestors of the family of Rosehill. Fuller was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge. He studied Descartes and Willis, and retained till old age a liking for their methods (Exanthemologia, p. xii). In 1676 he graduated M.B., and in 1681 M.D., and in February 1679 was admitted an extra-licentiate of the College of Physicians of London. He commenced practice at Sevenoaks, Kent, and there continued throughout life, attaining large practice and great popularity, which was increased in his old age by his undertaking at his own charge the proceedings in chancery necessary for a reform of the Senoke charity. He published three collections of prescriptions, ‘Pharmacopœia Extemporanea,’ 1702 (3rd edition, 1705; 4th, 1708; 6th, 1731), ‘Pharmacopœia Bateana,’ 1718 (based on the prescriptions of Dr. Bate [q. v.]), ‘Pharmacopœia Domestica,’ 1723. These were issued in Latin, but an advertisement of a pirated edition in English having appeared in the ‘Postman,’ 18 Sept. 1708, he published a translation of the first in 1710, of which a fifth edition appeared in 1740. In 1730 appeared his ‘Exanthemologia, or an attempt to give a Rational Account of Eruptive Fevers, especially of the Measles and Small-pox,’ the most interesting of his works. It contains many of his own notes of cases of small-pox, of measles, and of other fevers. He is the first English writer who points out clearly how to distinguish the spots produced by flea-bites (p. 145) from the spots seen in the eruptive fevers, and his is the first English book by a physician in which the qualifications necessary in a sick nurse are set forth in detail (p. 208). He narrates his cases with precision, and those illustrating the progress of small-pox after inoculation, of which he approved, are of permanent interest. He suffered from gout, and in 1727 he was threatened with blindness from cataract in both eyes to such a degree that he was unable to read the minute but clear handwriting of his youthful notes. He was, however, able to publish three collections of precepts:—‘Introductio ad Prudentiam, or Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, tending to Prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life,’ 2 vols. 1727 (2nd edition, 1740); ‘Introductio ad Sapientiam, or the Art of Right Thinking,’ 1731; ‘Gnomologia: Adagies, Proverbs, Wise Sentiments, and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British,’ 1732. The first is most original, and includes 3,152 precepts for the guidance through life of his son John, of which some are copied with little alteration from the psalms, proverbs, and gospels, while none of the remainder rise above the level of the advice of Polonius, to which they have a general resemblance. He died 17 Sept. 1734, and is buried in Sevenoaks Church. He married Mary Plumer on 23 Sept. 1703. A portrait is prefixed to the ‘Pharmacopœia Domestica,’ 1739.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 400; Wadd's Nugæ Chirurgicæ, 1824; Works; Index Catalogue of Library of Surgeon-General's Office, Washington; Fuller's copy of Brown's Myographia, 1684.]

N. M.