Much of the confusion surrounding the life of John of Newton stems from the fact that there were Three John Fullers, who emigrated from England to New England prior to 1650 and each John had a wife named ‘Elizabeth’ and each named their first son ‘John’. However, with the publications by Pope (1900) and William H. Fuller (1914), we know that it was John of Ipswich who was the 15 year old who came with his brother ‘William’ on the Abigail in 1635. The facts surrounding John and the Abigail have been applied to all three Johns at various times in various history books and websites. It is possible that Jackson’s book of 1854 did not receive much circulation, but his version of the events on the life of John of Newton after 1645 is the one that researchers rely on today. One history book suggests that John of Newton was the son of Dr. Samuel of Plymouth of the Mayflower, but today DNA shows that these two people were not related.
Some examples of the other misinformation that was been applied to John of Newton are:
- Bond, (1855) on page 227 of Vol. I stated: “ John Fuller settled in Newton (then a part of Camb.), about 1650. He purchased 800 acres of land on the south side of Charles River, a little distance above Angier’s Corner…… On Page 766 of Vol. II he corrected and updated much of the Fuller family of Newton and stated: “William Fuller, aged 25, and John Fuller, aged 15, embarked in the Abigail, in May, 1635, for New England. This age of John does not correspond with the age of the first John Fuller, of Newton, who d. Feb. 7, 1698-9, aged 87. Perhaps there is an error in one of these dates.”
- Savage, on page 216 of Vol. II in 1860 uses the confusing term ‘may seem’ when he talks about John of Cambridge, but then adds that it may be the John of Lynn: “John, Cambridge, in that part now Newton, may seem the youth wh. came with John Winthrop, jr. in his sec. voyage in the Abigail 1635, call 15 yrs. old, but that Jackson, wh. perhaps quotes the gr.st says he d. 7 Feb. 1699, in 87th yr. and he was freem. 1690, tho. his first four s. were together made freem. ten yrs. earlier.” On the same page 216 he says: “One John, aged 15, came 1635, in the Abigail, and he may be the man of Lynn, or of Cambridge.”
- Samuel C. Clarke, in his book, Descendants of John Fuller Newton, 1644-98, (Boston, David Clapp and son, 1869) confused everyone be stating: “John Fuller, supposed to have come with J. Winthrop, Jr. in the Abigail, Hackwell, master, in 1635, was born in England in 1620. He settled in Cambridge village (now Newton), in 1644. In Dec., 1658, he purchased of Joseph Cooke, of Cambridge, 750 acres of land in the Northwest part of Newton for 160 pounds sterling……”
The availability of information today may make it easier to gather and compare data than it would have been in the 19th century. Also, some researchers today may not know of all the available resources and may rely on information written by some of the renowned historians, such as Savage and Bond, and it may be hard to accept that some of their detail may be incorrect.