Fuller Surname Genealogy

The name Fuller comes from the wool trade. The raw cloth had to
be “fulled” – i.e. scoured and thickened by being in water – a process
known as walking because it was originally done by men trampling in a
Both Walker and Fuller appeared as surnames, Walker in
Yorkshire and the northeast and Fuller in the southeast. The
greater importance of the wool trade in the northeast has meant that
Walker is now the much more common surname.

Select Fuller Resources on

Select Fuller Ancestry

England. The Fuller
surname first appeared in Kent and is mainly to be found in East
Sussex, Kent,
and East Anglia
. Fuller emerged as a surname in the
1500’s in the wool trade around Tenterden in Kent and in the wool towns
of south Suffolk.

East Sussex. A
Fuller family can be traced back to the early 1500’s in East
This Fuller family found another and more lucrative occupation than
wool-making. The rich woodlands of
the Weald provided a valuable if wasteful resource for

From the 1690’s, John Fuller was the iron master at
Heathfield where cannon was made for the Royal Navy. The family
invested their profits in sugar plantations in Jamaica. However,
are probably best remembered for “Mad Jack” Fuller who blew most
of his
inheritance away in the early 1800’s by a series of follies that he
built in Sussex around Brightling.

Elsewhere. The
Fullers also produced Catholic-leaning clergymen. John Fuller
was merciless in hounding out heretics in Norfolk during the bloody
reign of Queen
Mary. William Fuller, the Dean of Ely, and Thomas Fuller, the
church historian, trod a more dangerous line during Civil War
times. However, we find another Fuller on the other side.
Nicholas Fuller was a redical Puritan lawyer of the early 1600’s who
fought against the entrenched powers of the church courts in his

A Fuller family from Wiltshire invested in a new brewery venture in
London in 1829. That brewery was and is still Fuller’s brewery,
makers of London’s Pride.
The family home remains at Neston Park near Corsham where they recently
opened an organic food shop. The estate itself has period charm
and has been used in many TV productions.

America. Fullers came
early to America.

New England Samuel Fuller
from Redenhall
near Harleston in
Norfolk was in
fact on board the Mayflower.
His descendants seem noted through their many branches for their
longevity and their large familiies (they included Melville Fuller who
rose to become Chief Justice of the United States in 1888). Other
early Fuller immigrants were:

  • his brother Edward (also on the Mayflower)
  • John and Elizabeth Fuller (on
    the Abigail)
  • Robert Fuller who
    settled in Salem,
  • and Thomas Fuller who arrived in 1638 and settled in Woburn.

The Rev. Timothy Fuller, born in 1707, was ordained as the first
minister of Princeton, Massachusetts, but was later dismissed because
of his anti-slavery views (although he was said to have owned slaves at
one time). He and his wife had ten children.

They included
Elizabeth Fuller, whose diary of rural life in Massachusetts at that
time has been handed down, and Timothy Fuller who became a US
Congressman in the early 1800’s. Timothy’s daughter Margaret was,
in the 19th century, an early advocate of women’s rights.
Also in this family line were that American genius, Buckminster Fuller,
and the founder of the Seattle Art Museum, Richard Fuller.

Not all of these Fullers stayed in Massachusetts. Ferdinand
Fuller from Worcester had led a pioneer group of abolitionists to
Kansas in 1854 to try and keep this new state a free state. He
was an architect and designed the first buildings for the University of
Kansas. Another early settler was Perry Fuller, an Indian
contractor who set up a profitable trading post at Quenemo.

Fullers in the South
The first appears to be
Ezekiel Fuller
who was born in the Virginia tidewater region in
1675 (a book by Grady P. Fuller, Ezekiel
Fuller and Some of His Descendants

written in 1987, narrated the history of this line). Two
brothers, Henry and Nehemiah Fuller, left Maryland for North Carolina
in the 1740’s. Their descendants are to be found in North
Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

One unusual Fuller ancestry was that of Solomon Fuller. His
grandfather John Lewis Fuller, born a slave in Virginia, had been able
to buy his freedom and move his family to Liberia. Solomon
returned in 1895 for his medical studies. He was a professor at
the Boston University School of Medicine for many years and became the
first practicing African American psychiatrist.

Today, American Fullers
outnumber English Fullers by some margin. They are probably
augmented by Fullers from Germany and
French Fourniers anglicized to Fuller.

Canada. A Fuller family
in Nova Scotia dates back to the 1760’s and a merchant,
William Fuller. One of his descendants was Alfred Fuller, the
founder of the Fuller Brush Company. Thomas Fuller came to
Toronto in the 1850’s and became the town’s leading architect.
His family-run business still thrives.

South Africa. Henry and
Susannah Fuller from London were among the first band of English
settlers to the Cape Colony in 1820. They were British loyalists
during the Boer War. Kathleen Bell (nee Fuller), who lived to see
a hundred, recorded her reminiscences of early Johannesburg at the turn
of the century. However, eighty years later when Alexandria Fuller
was writing, southern Africa was very different.

New Zealand. John Fuller
had arrived in Auckland from Kent in the 1850’s. A little later,
Frederick Fuller, who had left his native Suffolk for Australia in
1849, reached Christchurch. There he discovered his true metier,
taxidermy. As a taxidermist he delighted in all the new specimens
that New Zealand had to offer.

The Fuller theatrical family moved from
London to New Zealand in the 1890’s. Their eldest son Benjamin
developed the Fuller theater circuit which, expanding as New Zealand’s
cities grew, eventually spread to Australia.

Select Fuller

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Fuller

John Fuller
was the ironmaster at Heathfield in Sussex.
Thomas Fuller, the worthy
master Fuller, was a high-regarded church historian of the 17th
Alfred Fuller
from Nova Scotia
started the Fuller Brush Company in the early 1900’s.
Alvan Fuller, born in Boston,
was an automobile pioneer who later became Governor of Massachusetts.
Buckminster Fuller was an
American visionary, designer, architect, poet, author, and inventor.
Dr. Ray Fuller from
Illinois was the co-discoverer of the drug Prozac in the 1970’s.
Simon Fuller, born in Sussex,
was the creator of the Pop Idol
and American Idol television

Select Fullers Today

  • 28,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Norfolk)
  • 41,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas).
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)





Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply