How It All Began

Introduction

Shortly after my father died in 1973, my mother was going through the contents of a cupboard and she opened a box which contained a letter written on the 22nd. March 1921 by Frederick Jacob Fuller (1861-1943) to my grandfather, about 6 months after the birth of my father.

There are inaccuracies in the letter compared with a family bible written some years earlier.

 

Transcription of the letter

Dear Nephew,

We have your letter and the photo of the big baby very plump and he looks all right. He seems to me to be like one of your little brothers, we hope he is keeping quite well also yourselves.

We are going along just about the same but glad that the warmer weather is here as it suits us much better. I spend most of my time in the garden and I have built myself a glass house to go in when it rains if I'm out in the garden. It gets very warm there when the sun shines and the place is shut up. Yesterday while I went out I shut it up and it registered 100 degrees inside. I am varnishing a fiddle so the place is just right for drying the varnish. Oil varnish and a beautiful golden brown. I think it will be very fine when finished and I hope the tone of the instrument will be good. Do you play much now. I don't for I get tired making a noise all to myself.

I enclose the coat of arms. You see it is a grand one. Whether you have a right to it I cannot say, but I think it is similar to the Fullers' coat of arms in Buxhall Church near Stowmarket. Perhaps later on I may verity it. The Fullers' part is the "red stripes".

As far as I can go at present Aidan Lester Frederick can take the following as correct:

  1. ( Jane Fuller (formerly Barnard) married
    ( Jacob Fuller (four or five in family). Buried at Northfleet Church, Kent.
  2. ( Jacob Fuller son of the above registered in Stowmarket Church in 1800
    ( Amy Fuller (formerly Mills) married at Fawkham Church, Kent
    (                   (six or seven in family) Buried at Northfleet Church, Kent.
  3. ( Jacob Fuller son of the above
    ( Sarah Fuller (formerly Jeffrey) married at Rosherville Church, Kent
    (                   (three in family). Buried at Northfleet Church, Kent.
  4. ( Arthur William Fuller son of the above
    ( Harriet Fuller (formerly ) married at
  5. ( Arthur Jacob Fuller son of the above
    ( L. Fuller (formerly ) married at
  6. Aidan Lester Frederick Fuller son of the above.

Now you would like to know something about the Buxhall Stowmarket affair.

You may conclude that there is nothing to be secured now.

Jacob Fuller No. 1 was a queer chap. He certainly had to run away from Stowmarket I believe for shooting someone. How or why I don't know. He got to Northfleet and lived and died there or rather at the village near named Perry Street.

About 1850 some people called on Jacob Fuller No. 2 and told him his uncle was dead and there was certain property he was entitled to. He said he didn't want it and soon after that he died.

About 1890 or before I went to Buxhall with my father, also by myself. There certainly was something wrong for I caused considerable excitement and some properties were put up for sale title going back to a few years after the date the people had called on my grandfather. I had no time or money to spend on following up the matter. I saw the registers it Buxhall Church, but the pages were missing at those dates which would have mentioned my great grandfather Jacob No. 1. I was told that the Fullers owned at one time the whole place, but all died and disappeared property was seized by people having no legal right to it, some by the chief people in the place hence the damaged registers and the sale or pretended sale of a small farm or two when I turned up there. Some day I may investigate further but as one gets old interest gets less.

There are rows of Fullers buried at Buxhall Church going back a long way. The stones too old to read. I think I read one dated 1600 odd and slabs in the Church as I believe the coat of arms in red is just on the right hand side after you go in the Church by the front porch. There is a lot I could tell you of what happened when I went and what people said.

For instance the Hall, we were speaking to a man asking who lived there and he followed up by saying, 'They do say as they don't know who that place belongs to'. When I went to Stowmarket I put up at a public house quite by chance. The landlady turned out to be the niece of the nephew of my great grandmother. I found out the old chap I don't know how now he was over 80 and just about dying so he could not say very much, but he said Jacob Fuller who married his Aunt Jane was a "tiger of a fellow but he had to run away" but who Jacob Fuller was he did not know and those who did know would not say because they had got some of the property. They were then all o1d men and they all died very soon after I went down there. The parson of Buxhall Church married Hill, another man who kept the Fox Hotel (I think that was the name), Clover and Pilgrim are other names I remember. One old farmer I saw in Buxhall Church and spoke to about the Fullers started talking, but he had not said much before he said, 'But you look like a Fuller so you know more about them than I do and I've been telling you all this. Are you going to turn us out of our farms?' All this sort of indefinite talk took place. He asked me if I came from the old Anthony Fuller's side. I think I answered I suppose so. If Anthony Fuller's side was the missing one then I reckon I was right.

We did nothing more. All my papers and certificates were lost in the bother I had about that time but now you know enough to interest you and you can pass it on when the youngster is old enough. I'm going to finish on the back of this sheet. We hope you are both quite well and with love to both of you from us

Your affectionate Uncle

Fredk J. Fuller.

 

The original of the letter

The letter is written on 7 pages:

  1. Page 1
  2. Page 2
  3. Page 3
  4. Page 4
  5. Page 5
  6. Page 6
  7. Page 7

 

The Coats of Arms

There are two:

 

The Family Bible

Family Bible Page 1

Family Bible Page 2

 

The 1889 sale of Buxhall properties

Sale Details 1

Sale Details 2

Sale Details 3

 

A near miss

Bearing in mind the alleged shooting incident, I was extremely interested to find the following article in the Ipswich Journal Saturday 11th. September 1813:

On Saturday last [4th. September 1813] a melancholy accident happened at Hitcham, in this county: As Mr. Robert Snelling, farmer of the above place, and an intimate friend were shooting, the gun of the latter accidentally went off, and shot Mr. Snelling in the leg, which was so much shattered that amputation was immediately required, but he died within an hour after the operation. The deceased was about 35 years of age, was greatly respected and has left a wife and four children to lament his loss. By an inquisition taken before J. Wayman, Gentleman on Monday last it appeared that Mr. Snelling's friend was walking behind him, having his gun under his arm with the mouth downwards when Mr. Snelling suddenly turned round, his leg touched the gun which went off and the above consequences ensued.
Verdict: Accidental death.

Ipswich [?] Coroner's Report by J. Wayman on Monday 6th. September 1813 on R. Snelling.

 

The reality

The coats of arms

The two coats of arms passed down in my family belong to the Fuller-Elliot-Drake and Fuller-Acland-Hood families and it is extremely unlikely that I am related to either. The Drake family are descendants of a sibling of Sir Francis Drake and the Elliot family are descendants of Sir George Elliot who defended Gibraltar during the Napoleonic Wars. The Hood family are descendants of Sir Samuel Hood, a renowned admiral who defeated the French in 1783. The coat of arms also shows the Acland, Bateman, Palmer and Periam families. The two Fuller families both trace back, according to Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, to the De ffulwer family of Sussex.

The coat of arms described in Frederick Jacob Fuller's letter is/was the Hill coat of arms which is very similar (30 years later) to the Fuller coat of arms and it is still there in Buxhall church.

The 80 year old inhabitant of Combs

Based on entries in the National Burial Index and the 1881 census, I think that this person was James Barnard, 1809-1897, who married Mary Bird.

The mysterious uncle

Jacob Fuller was buried on the 1st. September 1862 and the family bible states 'In 1861 or thereabouts a short time before my grandfather died ...'. John Fuller of Isleham, then Buxhall, then Combs and lastly Ipswich died in June 1862 without an heir and was the last known male descendant of the entailed properties bequeathed in Robert Fuller's 1813 PCC will. It's a strange coincidence.

The parents of Jacob Fuller (c.1775-1826)

And this is still, after 115 years, the 6 million dollar question.