Fuller, William (1580?-1659) (DNB00)


FULLER, WILLIAM (1580?–1659), dean of Durham, born in or about 1580, was the son of Andrew Fuller of Hadleigh, Suffolk. He was a fellow of St. Catharine Hall, Cambridge, where he took the degree of D.D. in 1625, and is said to have been a good linguist and an excellent preacher. These gifts recommended him to James I, who made him one of his chaplains. By Sir Gervase Clifton he was presented to the rectory of Weston, Nottinghamshire. In the next reign he was continued in his chaplaincy, and on 3 July 1628 he received a dispensation to hold the vicarage of St. Giles-without-Cripplegate, London, in addition to the rectory of Weston (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1628-9, p. 190). On the death of Henry Caesar, 27 June 1636, he was promoted to the deanery of Ely (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 348). In October 1641 some of the parishioners of St. Giles's petitioned parliament for his removal, complaining that, though the parish was very populous and the living worth 700l. a year, Fuller had 'pluralities of livings, and thereby was a non-resident,' and a 'popish innovator besides.' Altogether eight articles were exhibited against him. They alleged further that Fuller's curate, Timothy Hutton, 'repaired from his pulpit to the taverne on the Lords day, and there drinking uncivilly, danced and sung most profaine, & ungodly songs & dances, to the shame and disgrace of religion' (The Petition and Articles exhibited in Parliament against Dr. Fuller, &c., 4to, London, 1641). The commons evidently thought it more dignified to summon him as a 'delinquent,' 'for divers dangerous and scandalous matters delivered by him in several sermons.' For refusing to attend he was ordered into the custody of the serjeant-at-arms, but upon giving substantial bail he was released on 11 Nov. 1641, and nothing apparently came of the matter (Commons' Journals, ii. 299, 307, 309, 311). In July 1642 Fuller and his curate, Hutton, were sent for as 'delinquents' on a charge of having read the king's last declaration in church. Fuller denied having given orders for it to be read; he had in fact enjoined Hutton not to read it 'till he had received farther direction.' He was thereupon forthwith discharged 'from any farther restraint without paying fees;' but the unfortunate curate, who confessed to having read it at the afternoon service, was committed a prisoner to the king's bench, where he remained for nearly a month (ib. ii. 650, 669, 703). Fuller's money was ordered to be confiscated 'for the service of the commonwealth,' 18 Feb. 1642-3 (ib. ii. 970). By warrant of the Earl of Essex, he asserts, 500l. was unjustly taken from him (Will). In 1645 he was in attendance upon the king at Oxford, and was incorporated in his doctor's degree on 12 Aug. of that year. Charles, who greatly admired his preaching, made him dean of Durham, in which he was installed on 6 March 1645-6 (Le Neve, iii. 300). Ultimately he retired to London, and died in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, on 13 May 1659, aged 79 (Smyth, Obituary, Camden Soc. p. 50; Probate Act Book, P. C. C. 1659, f. 245 b). The authorities having refused his relatives' request that he might be buried in the church of St. Giles, he was interred at the upper end of the south aisle of St. Vedast, Foster Lane. By his wife Katherine, who survived him, Fuller left issue three sons, William, Robert, and Gervase, and two daughters, Jane, married to Brian Walton, D.D., afterwards bishop of Chester, and Mary. Mrs. Walton, soon after the Restoration, erected a 'comely monument' over her father's grave. In his will, dated 14 Dec. 1658, and proved on 30 May 1659, Fuller requests that his 'written bookes and papers shall not be scene or disposed of without the privity and consent' of his son-in-law Brian Walton (registered in P. C. C. 273, Pell). He published: 1. 'A Sermon [on Ephes. iv. 7] preached before his Maiestie at Dover Castle,' 4to, London, 1625. 2. 'The Movrning of Mount Libanon ... A Sermon [on Zech. xi. 2] preached . . . 1627. In commemoration of the Lady Frances Clifton,' &c., 4to, London, 1628. From the dedication to Sir Gervase Clifton we learn that Fuller had preached the funeral sermon of the first Lady Clifton, which, however, 'went out in written copies.'

[Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 79-80, 82; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 357; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638-9, p. 298, 1640-1, pp. 213, 401, 1660-1, p. 232.]

G. G.