Some Information About John Fuller of Newton

John Fuller Sr. b. abt. 1611[1] in England, UK [-or is it-] bp. 28 Aug 1617[2] in Colchester, Essex, UK. Died 7 February 1697/8 in Newton, Middlesex, MA, bur. East Parish Burying Ground in Newton, Middlesex, MA.[1]

+Elizabeth Cole was Christened January 1, 1622/3 in St Peter and St Paul Parish Church in Lavenham, Suffolk, England, UK. Died 13 April 1700 in Newton, Middlesex, MA.[3] Married bef. 1645.[4]   

Arrival in New England
The first documented record of John and his family in New England is the birth record of their fourth child, son Joseph in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 10 February, 1652/3.[5] We know the family was in New England at least six months prior to that because Walter Cole’s Will, dated 13 Aug. 1652, contains a bequest “and also twenty shillings more unto my daughter Elizabeth, the nowe (sic) wife of John Fuller, in New England.”

This date is much later than the 1644 arrival date recorded in most history of Newton books, and the 1644 date on the “First Settler’s Monument” standing the East Parish Burying Ground.  The monument was erected in 1852 with no explanation of where the 1644 date came from. The first history of Newton book by Francis Jackson[6] was published in 1854 and used the 1644 date. Charles H Pope, in his 1900 publication took it one step further by indicating that John Fuller was a land owner in 1644[7]. We have not found any evidence of that.

We know that John’s wife likely grew up in Lavenham but there is evidence that John also emigrated from that Parish. Colonel Charles Edward Banks searched 41 counties and shires in England from 1194 parishes and found 2885 people who emigrated to New England between 1620 to 1650. We found our John Fuller in his publication, stating that he emigrated from Lavenham Parish to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, he does not include a date.[8] 

John’s occupation was a maltster and we assume he spent the normal apprenticeship of 17th century England of 7 years[9] prior to emigrating to New England. He may have worked as a maltster[10] when he first arrived and perhaps planned to set up his own business as in 1655, he purchased 9 acres of land in Watertown from Nicholas Davison. He subsequently sold that land in 1657 for 46 pounds. In 1658, he purchased the land for the future Fuller Farm on the South side of the Charles River for ninety-two pounds, nineteen schillings & eight pence, down payment on the 750 acres (total purchase cost 160 pounds).   

Fuller Farm 
Francis Jackson[6] was the first of the history books to make reference to the “Fuller Farm” in his 1854 book. The nucleus of the farm was the 750 acres purchase in 1658 and then by subsequent purchases he increased it to upward of 1000 acres. He distributed it among his five sons, through his will dated 1696.  In an agreement dated March 25, 1699/1700, the five sons divided the farm into five parcels of land based on their father’s will. This agreement known as the “First Division”, set up a road system which gave access to their individual farmsteads. A second agreement dated May 13, 1730 between the residence at that time, set out additional roadways through the farm which tied into the roads in West Newton. 

Family – Ancestral Line
We do not have John’s birth information, however, our research has concluded that his most likely ancestral line[11] is through his father, John (bp. 1563 Lavenham Parish) to his grandfather, James Fuller of Lavenham, who died 1622 (buried May 14, 1622, Lavenham). If John had been born in 1617, he would have been named in James Fuller’s last which was written May 21, 1618 (if he had been b. 1611, he would have been included in the will as well).

1675 Petition
On Dec. 3, 1675, John petitioned the governor of Massachusetts, to allow him to keep some of his sons from serving in King Philip’s War as he needed them at home to work on the farm. On Dec. 9, 1675, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered that no more than 2 of his sons were to serve in the army at one time.  

1678 Letter
On Dec 14, 1678 John Fuller of Newton wrote a letter to the Judge of the Probate Court and asked the Judge to please inform the Court that the 22 acres of land in the estate inventory of the late Simon Ong, was in fact his (John’s) land. Two court cases ensued (Fuller vs Ong and Ong vs Fuller) and the outcome was that John lost his appeal. It is likely that John knew Simon as they were both from Lavenham, Suffolk, England, a fact that did not seem to appear in the court transcripts. We also noted that Simon’s father, Edmond, was a witness to James Fuller’s will. More …  

John Was An Elected Town Officer 

1665-75 – Elected Officer in Cambridge[12]

  1. 1665+66, Surveyor of Highways (p158/163).
  2. 1669+1675, Constable (p181) and (p225).
  3. 1673/74, Viewer of Fences for the Common Fields for Cambridge Village (p217).
  4. 1675, Constable (p225).

PAGE 158
[71]   1665. At a publ: meeting of the Inhabitants for choyce of Constables & select men &c there were elected for the yeare ensuing

Records of the Town of Cambridge MA 1630-1703, Page 158

Constables: Andrew Belcher, John Watson, & Thomas Parkes. (Thomas fox chosen in lew of Andrew Belcher)
Townsmen: Capt. Daniel Gookin. Thomas Danforth. Jno Cooper, John fisenden, Thomas fox & mr Edward Jackson.

Surveyors of High wayes: Isacke Sternes, Wm Dixon, Robert Browne, __ Ri, Dana ___,  John Fuller.

 PAGE 163
[73]    At a meeting of the Inhabitants the 12th of november, 1666.

mr William Manning, mr Samuel Andrew, & James Trowbridge, were chosen

Records of the Town of Cambridge MA 1630-1703, Page 163

Constables for the yeare ensueing.

Capt Gookin, Thomas Danforth, Edw: Oakes, Jno fissenden, Jno Cooper, & Thomas Fox, were chosen Select men, for the yeare ensueing.

Gilbert Crackbone, Zach Hicks, Jno fuller, Richard Woods, & Isacke Sterns were chosen surveyors of highways.

PAGE 181
[81]    November th 8 1669 at A Generall towne meeting for the Choyse of Cunstabls select men and

Records of the Town of Cambridge MA 1630-1703, Page 181

for Cunstabls: walter haftins, Richard Ecels, John fuller
for select men: Captaine Gookin, mr thomas danforth, mr John stedman, william Maning, thomas fox, John Cooper
surveyors of highways: Samuell Gofe, John Addams, daniell bacon, David fiske”


PAGE 217
[94]    March th 9 1673/74 -At a metting of the select men

to looke after swine that they bee yooked and Ringed we are appointed for the towne: danill Cheaver and Common

Records of the Town of Cambridge MA 1630-1703, Page 217

for menotime Row: Jeames hubbard
for the farmes towards Concord: John Coller and thomas Cutter
for the vilage on the south side of the River: Job hide and thomas hammond Jur and neere the towne Richard dana
for vewers of fences of Common fields:
for the necke fence: John goue and John stedman Junr
for menotime field: John swane and Nathaniell pattin
for the west field: Richard Robbins, Amos woodward and John watson
for the vilage:  John fuller and John spring
and for the south side of the River: Nathaniell sparhauke and samuell Champne

PAGE 225
[97]  November th 8 1675

At a publicke meeting of the Inhabitance towne for the Choise of towne officers

Records of the Town of Cambridge MA 1630-1703, Page 225

for Counslables: william Maning, mathew bregd, John Jackson, John fuller

for felect men: mr John stedman, mr Edward Oakes, thomas fox, walter hastins, francis More,  John Cooper

surveyors of high ways: for the towne: thomas longhorne; over the River: steven francis; for the vilage: Jonathn hide; for the farmes neere Concord: samuell stone.



1686-1698Elected Officer in Newton-formerly: Cambridge Village, New Cambridge

  1. 1686-91 – Selectman[13]
  2. 1686-87 – Townsman[14]
  3. 1687 – Surveyor of highways[14]
  4. 1690 – Tithingman[14]
  5. 1690, Mar 26 – Freeman[15]
  6. 1693-94 – Selectman[14] 
  7. 1694 – Fence Viewer[14]

    15. Freeman, Fuller, John Senr., 1690

    14. Fleishman 1679-1779, p33

    13. Jackson, p216










  1. The birth date of 1611, has been used in the history of Newton books with a note that the date was calculated from information on his grave stone. This is confirmed by his death record in the “Massachusetts Vital Records 1620-1850” [hereinafter MA VR,] for Newton Deaths, p448: “Fuller, John Sr., Feb. 7, 1698. [1697-8. a. 87, G.R.1.]”. GR1 is the East Burying Ground in Newton, Massachusetts. However, the actual wording on the gravestone may have stated “Aged about 87 Years”. See page 2 in the link in Note 2 below.  
  2. This research indicates that John Fuller of Newton was baptized 28 Aug 1617 in St Peter’s Church in Colchester, Essex, UK. More……   
  3. MA VR, Newton Deaths, p 448. “Fuller, Elizabeth [dup. Elizebeth], Apr. 13, 1700.”
  4. Likely married in England about 1645 based on the birth dates of the children. Children …  
  5. MA VR, Cambridge Births, p 276; “Fuller, Joseph, s. of Jno and Elizabeth, Feb. 10, 1652.” It was not easy the historians of the 17th Century, to navigate the life of John Fuller of Newton as there were three John Fullers who immigrated to New England between 1620 and 1650 and each one married an “Elizabeth”. 
  6. Jackson, Francis, 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 [hereinafter Jackson, Francis]. By Francis Jackson (of Boston) a Native of Newton. Boston: Printed by Stacy and Richardson, 1854, pages 278/9, “He was born in 1611, and settled in Cambridge Village about 1644. In Dec. 1658, he purchased of Joseph Cook, of Camb., seven hundred and fifty acres of land, for £160, bound N, and W. by Charles river, the windy part of the river W.; E. by land of Thomas Park, and S. by Samuel Shepard’s farm, being a straight line between.” “By subsequent purchase, he increased his tract to upwards of one thousand acres. Cheese-cake brook ran through it. This tract was long known as the “Fuller farm”.”  
  7. Pope, Charles Henry, The Pioneers of Massachusetts”, Boston, Mass., published by C. H, Pope, 1900, p 178; “Fuller, John, farmer, maltster, Cambridge, propr. 1644. …”. We understand this to mean that he was a landowner in 1644. If he had meant to say that John was a land owner and he arrived in 1644, he would have had a comma after ‘prop.’.
  8. Banks, Charles Edward, Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England 1620-1650, (Originally published, Philadelphia, 1937), Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, (fifth printing) 1976, page 157; “(Name of Emigrant) – John Fuller; (English Parish, Emigrated From) = Lavenham, Suffolk; (New England Town Immigrated to) = Cambridge, Massachusetts; (Various/Reference) NEHGR 49/491.”
  9. The Statute of Artificers 1562 or the Artificers and Apprentices Act 1562, was an Act of Parliament of England, under Queen Elizabeth I which in part controlled entry into the class of skilled workmen by providing a compulsory seven years’ apprenticeship.
  10. McWilliams, James E., Brewing Beer in Massachusetts Bay, 1640-1690; (source: New England Quarterly, Vol 71 No. 4, pp. 543-569; accessed 2014; p 543 “When the Talbot arrived in 1628 carrying water, bread, beef, peas, and candles to the region that would become Essex County, it also offloaded 45 tuns of beer; in 1630, the Arbella transported no less than 10,000 gallons of English beer to the colonial shores.” This was not a long-term solution. “Because the beverage was relatively simple to produce, however, and given the demand owing to the Great Migration of the 1630s, colonists wasted little time launching a domestic enterprise.”
  11. Our research recognizes James Fuller of Lavenham, UK as the most likely grandfather of John of Newton and James’ son John Fuller, who married Ann Gates in 1594, as his most likely father.        
  12. Town Records, The Records of the Town of Cambridge (Formerly Newtowne) Massachusetts 1630-1703. The Records of the Town Meetings, and of the Selectmen, comprising all of the First Volume of Records, and being Volume II, of the Printed Records of the Town. Printed by Order of the City Council Under the Direction of the City Clerk Cambridge, 1901, University Press, John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.
  13. Jackson, Francis, page 216, “John Fuller, [was a selectman for] 5 years from 1686.”
  14. Ritter and Fleishman, Newton, Massachusetts 1679-1779 a Biographical Directory. Boston, 1982, The New England Historical Genealogical Society, Page 33. “A ‘tithe’ was a levy of 10% of earnings to the church. A Tithingman was an elected person whose task it was to ensure that people paid their fair share and enforce the attendance and observance of the Sabbath. Also, to preserve order during service.”
  15. Non. H F Andrews, List of Freemen Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1630 to 1691, Exira Printing Company, Exira, IO, 1906, “FULLER, John Senr., Mar 26 1690 New Camb..”