Who is James Fuller         And

Is He The Most Likely Ancestral Line of John of Newton

John’s wife, Elizabeth Cole was baptized 1 January 1622/3 at the church in Lavenham, England, UK1. We do not have the same birth/baptism documentation for John Fuller of Newton, MA, USA, however we have evidence that links John of Newton to a known Fuller family in Lavenham.

James Fuller lived in Lavenham and the Lavenham Parish records show that he had two children who lived past childhood; son John5 bp. 1562 and daughter Marie6, bp. 1569.  James Fuller, who was born about 1542, wrote a Will4 in 1618 and died and was buried7 in Lavenham in 1622. 

John Fuller of Newton immigrated to New England and settled in Newton (Cambridge Village at the time), Middlesex, MA about 1644. In 1658 he purchased a farm of 750 acers and over time added more land as he had five sons and planned to set up each son with his own farm before he died2.  

In 1678 John wrote a letter to the Probate Court of Middlesex regarding the estate of Simon Onge3, wherein he described the arrangement he had with Simon Onge to allow Simon to live on his land for Simon’s lifetime and then the land would revert back to John of Newton. John must have known Simon Onge very well and may have been a family friend from Lavenham, UK, as Simon was born and raised in Lavenham. John would not have made this arrangement with a stranger and even though the small farm had only 20 acers, this was at a time when he was accumulating land for his own family. 

The content of this letter along with the fact that Simon’s father (Edmond) signed as a witness4 to the James Fuller Will4 in Lavenham in 1618, connects John Fuller of Newton directly to James Fuller and the town of Lavenham.

We now need to examine the James Fuller family to see if John of Newton might fit into that family. First let’s examine the 6 people named in the 1618 James Fuller Will4 (probate date 1622). The following extracts name the six people namely; his son and daughter and four grandchildren: (direct quotes)4

  1. “Item I give and bequeath to my sonne [son] John Fuller…..”.
  2. “Item I give and bequeath to Marie smythe my daughter the now weif [wife] of Rob[er]te Smythe…”
  3. “Item I give and bequeath to John Mascall my grandchild….”
  4. “Item I give and bequeath to John Fuller [the elder] of coulchester7 my grandchild…..”
  5. [within the same Item 4] …pay out of the same to his brother John[Fuller the younger][grandchild].. 
  6. [within the same Item 4] ….and to his Syster Suzan [Fuller] [grandchild]….

Combining this with information from the Lavenham Parish Records, we see James’ two children in 1618:

  1. John bap5 Lavenham 4 Jan, 1562/3, married Anne Gates bap5 5 April 1573, married 15 Sept, 1594 and had a son, Edward,5 bap 19 Oct, 1595 in Lavenham, who may have died prior to 1618 as he is not named in James’ Will. After their marriage in 1594, John and Anne Gates likely moved to another Parish (perhaps Colchester8, Essex, England). The reason that Edward shows up in the Lavenham Parish Records is that it was common at the time for the wife to return ‘home’ to have her first child.
  2. Marie bap6 Lavenham 21 Dec, 1569 “Marie dawtr of James Fuller”– we know from James’ Will that Marie was married to Robert Smyth in 1618, but she may have had a son “John Mascall” from a previous marriage because in 1618, James left property to his grandson John Mascall (when he turns 23).

Now based on the information only from the 1618 Will, we can construct a possible family for John Fuller and Anne Gates: (It was not uncommon for families to give two sons the same given name.)

  1. John4 [the elder], who was named as executor, ‘my grandson John Fuller of Colchester’, in James’ Will. This John must have been 21 in 1618 to have been named Executor.
  2. John4 [the younger], who is to be paid by his brother (John of Colchester) 20 pounds out of his inheritance. This John is most likely John Fuller of Newton b. 1611
  3. Suzan4 — who is to receive 10 pounds according to James’ Will.

We do not have documentation to prove this ancestral line; however until we find that documentation, the factors above lead us to believe that the:

Most Probable Ancestral Line for John Fuller of Newton is back to James Fuller of Lavenham and that he is in fact John Fuller the younger.


W. L. Fuller. Feb, 2018



  1. Church of England Parish Records for Lavenham Parish Baptisms; 1 January 1622[/3] Elizabeth the daughter of Walter Cole.
  2. Francis Jackson, A History of the Early Settlement of Newton, County of Middlesex, Massachusetts: From 1639 to 1800 – with a Genealogical Register of its Inhabitants prior to 1800. By Francis Jackson (of Boston) a Native of Newton. Boston: Printed by Stacy and Richardson, 1854, page 278
  3. Great Migration Begins-Immigrants to New England 1620-1633; NEHGS; page 1360. Symon Onge was born in Lavenham, Suffolk County, England and bp. 11 April 1619 and traveled with his mother, Frances and family on the Lyon arriving 5 Feb 1630/1 and were among the first residence of Watertown, MA. His mother died in 1638 when he was 19 and if it were not for the Probate Court Records of Middlesex showing John Fuller’s intervention and the following court cases, Symon’s existence would not have been known to the Fuller family researchers.
  4. Suffolk County Archives, Bury St. Edmonds, England, UK; Will written 21 May 1618; Probate 24 May 1622 at Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, England, UK; Wills; Catalogue reference: SRO IC500/1/78/15.
  5. Church of England Parish Records for Lavenham Parish Baptisms; 21 December 1569, Marie dawtr of James Fuller.
  6. Church of England Parish Records for Lavenham Parish; Baptisms: 1562 January the 4th day John sonne of James Fuller; 1573 April 5 Anne d. of Edward Gates; Marriages: 1594 September 15th John Fuller and Anne Gates; Baptisms: 1595 October the 19th day, Edw[a]rd sonne of John Fuller.
  7. Church of England Parish Records for Lavenham Parish Burials; 14 May 1622 James Fuller
  8. We suggest Colchester because John the elder named in the James Fuller Will was from Colchester and we know that two of Elizabeth Cole’s sisters married and lived in Colchester. We have searched the various Colchester Parishes Records and did not find a match for the family of John Fuller and Anne Gates. We did uncover a James Fuller who was baptised 9 April 1542 son of John Fuller, in the records of the Parish of St. Leonard. In the same Parish we discovered the marriage between John Fuller and F[G]race Kebbell on 1 July 1586 and it is possible that the John Fuller bp 1562/3 in Lavenham could have married in Colchester in 1586 at the age of 24 and had a family and after his wife died, married Anne Gates in 1594 in Lavenham at the age of 32, which is rather late for a first marriage. This could account for the fact that there were two Johns in the family (one in each marriage) and would mean that John the elder would have been of age when named executor of James’ Will. It could also account for the grandson John Mascall, who could have been the son of a daughter from a first marriage. Having said that, first marriage or not, John Fuller the younger still is the most probable candidate for being John Fuller of Newton.