Notes for Robert Fuller


The first record of Robert Fuller in this country was in Salem, MA in 1639 when he requested 5 acres to plant. He is believed to have arrived on the "Bevis" which left England in May 1638. England. It was in that year that Governor Winslow ceased to record the arrival of ships, there being so many, 20 in that year with over 3000 persons. Perhaps Robert and his brother Thomas of Woburn slipped in among that large group of unrecorded persons. It is known they came from England. Robert Fuller was a bricklayer by trade. In those days the mason gathered, hauled and cleaned his stone for construction. Usually stone was used for the foundation, chimneys, and cellar walls. At some point he moved from Salem to Rehoboth. He owned property there in 1645. His wife, Sarah Bowen had sisters and brothers already living in Rehoboth. Of Robert Fuller family and his early descendants it is said: "The Fuller families were of strong Puritanical character; marked for integrity, industry, a strict regard for truth and justice, accompanied by an affability or manners both pleasing and of controlling influence."


Robert FULLER Of Salem and Rehoboth was born about 1616 in Southampton, Hampshire, England. He died on 10 May 1706 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts. Robert Fuller was born about 1615 perhaps in Suffolk or Norfolk county near the southeastern coast of England. Most everyone with the surname of "Fuller" lived in this region when the name first came into use because it was where the woolen cloth manufacturers were located. The name comes from the trade of "fuller." A fuller's job was important to the refinement of finished cloth. A fuller scoured wool and other cloth after it was woven to make it whiter, tighter, thicker, and more durable. In part of his process, the fuller would sprinkle the woven cloth with a clay called "fuller's earth", then fold and soak the cloth in a tub of water. While in the tub, he would walk on the cloth with his bare feet to even out the fill. In 1638, Robert Fuller is said to have sailed from the port of Southampton to Salem, which was in the English-chartered, Massachusetts Bay Colony. His passage was probably on the ship "Bevis of Hampton." The Bevis made only one voyage to America and Robert's name does not appear in the ship's manifest. However, he may have worked for his passage as an ordinary seaman, in which case, his name would not have appeared among those of the regular passengers. At the time of his arrival, colonial Salem was twelve years old. There were already several other Fullers living in Massachusetts when Robert arrived. Some had sailed with the Puritans from England to Plymouth Rock in 1620 on the Mayflower. It has not been shown using civil records that Robert was in fact related to these other Fullers, but it is remotely possible. If Robert was related to brothers Samuel and Edward Fuller, or Susanna (Fuller) White of the Mayflower, then he was probably a nephew. If so, he would have been the son of Thomas Fuller, who remained in England. Robert may also have had an older brother named Thomas who came to Massachusetts in 1638, but lived first in Woburn and then in Salem. Again, no proof has been found yet of this relationship. Robert married Sarah Bowen at Salem in about 1639. She was born in Wales in about 1616 to Richard and Ann Bowen. The entire Bowen family was living in Salem--already a busy seaport--by the time Robert arrived. In 1645, however, Robert was given land in Rehoboth, which was in an unsettled area to the southwest of Salem about 60 miles away. By 1650, he had moved his family there. Robert and Sarah had six children: Jonathan, Elizabeth, John, Samuel, Abigail, and Benjamin. He and Sarah built a new home at the southwest end of a scenic area called the "Ring of Green" which was on the Seekonk plain. The family lived there for about the next twenty-five years, until serious problems with Indian attacks made life there intolerable. Today this land is part of East Providence, Rhode Island. During his first years in America, Robert made his living as a bricklayer. He is mentioned many times in this regard in the early records of Town meetings of both Salem and Rehoboth. In those days, a bricklayer's job consisted mainly of building fireplaces, bake ovens, chimneys, foundations, and cellar walls. Houses were not generally brick, but were back-plastered with lime on the walls and ceilings for greater warmth. At first, a bricklayer in Massachusetts had his pay set by the Court of Assistants; In 1630, the order had been that carpenters, joiners, sawyers, bricklayers, and thatchers could be paid no more than two shillings a day. This order was repealed, however, because it failed to promote the skilled labor which was vital to the growing colony. Robert did not become a "freeman" until 1655. Unless you were granted the status of freeman, you could not vote or hold public office. In order to be a freeman in the Plymouth Colony, however, you had to be approved by the minister of the congregation--in Massachusetts this meant you had to be a Puritan. Indeed, Robert was a loyal Congregationalist, and received his grant. Later, in 1668, he and his brother-in-law were elected constables for one year. "Att the General Court of Elections held att Plymouth the third Day of June, Anno Dom 1668, Prence Gour, Constables of Rehoboth-- Robert ffuller George Kendricke" Constables kept the peace, made arrests, served warrants, and among other popular activities, collected taxes. In 1675 and 1676, Rehoboth was attacked several times by the Wampanoag Indians in what was called "King Philip's War." Scores of townspeople were ambushed in the fields or killed in surprise attacks by angry natives. King Philip, or "Metacomet" (which was his Indian name), was the son of Massasoit, chief of the Wampanog tribe. Apparently, the Indians had become increasingly angry with the encroachments of the early settlers, and resorted to violence. As a result of these attacks, Robert lost his wife, Sarah, and three of his children, John, Samuel, and Abigail. His daughter Elizabeth lost her husband, Nehemiah Sabin. Shortly after these tragic losses, Robert returned to Salem. Soon he remarried to Margaret Waller, whose husband had also been killed. Margaret and Robert lived in Salem until the late 1690s. Fortunately for them, they were not among the 125 persons accused of witchcraft in 1692. After trial, many witches were hanged. (None was ever burned.) The governor of the Massachusetts colony finally put a stop to the incredible nonsense in 1693. Eventually, Robert went back to Rehoboth to live out his last years with his grown children. Margaret died about 1700 and Robert in 1706. They are both probably buried in the oldest cemetery in Rehoboth.

[Much of the above was based on information provided by Clarence C. Fuller in his book "Robert Fuller of Salem"] He was married to Sarah BOWEN in 1639 in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony.


Arrived in colonies aboard the "Bevis" which left England in May 1638. First record in this country is in Salem, MA where on 18 Nov. 1639 he requested 5 acres of land on which to garden Robert was a bricklayer, or mason, and had many opportunites to ply his trade as the town of Salem was growing rapidly. Foundations and basements were usually constructed of field stone which was gathered, cleaned and hauled by the mason. The mason also mined or dug and hauled the lime used as mortar. No record of his marriage is found, although Newton Fuller in his Fuller Memorial lists the names of Robert's wife and children. According to the records Robert owned land in Rehoboth in 1645 where is wife, Sarah Bowen had sisters and brothers already living. He worked in both communities and were living in Rehoboth by 1652. Her father, Richard Bowen, b. abt 1590 and his second wife were among the first settlers there having emigrated from Kittle Hill, Glamorganshire, Wales, England via Weymouth, MA. before moving on to Rehoboth. So far as we know Robert was a loyal Congregationalist, and may have felt that his allegiance to his church precluded his declaring his allegiance to the state. He twice proposed taking up his freedom, but delayed taking the oath of fidelity for six years. Along with hihs brother-in-law, George Kendrick, Robert was elected a constable in 1668. Their duties included keeping the pace, making arrests, serving warrants, and the collection of taxes. Since there was very little cash in those days they were reuired to accept payment in produce at rates set by the town council. The handling of such produdce made the collection of taxes an arduous task. The King Phillips war began in Swansea, MA 23 June1675, when a merchant had his son shoot a pilfering Indian. Next day a band of Phillips Indians attacked killing the merchant and his son as well as other inhabitants. Massasoit, the chief who had befriended the settlerswas sachem of the Warpanoag Tribe had died in 1662. His eldest son, Wamsutta became sachem in his stead but died a year later. Metacomet (Phillip) another son they reigned as sachem. The Indians resented the efforts to convert them to the English religeon and to force them to live by English law, so Phillip formed an alliance with other tribes and determined to drive the English out of the country. To finance the war the colonists were asked to contribute money. People of Rehoboth contributed 570 pounds. Robert Fuller contributed 4 pounds-10 shillins-3 pence. In addition to financia costs were the cost of lives.Robert lost his wife, two sons, and a son-in-law. His daughter Abigail was also thought to have been killed by the Indians.

Source of Notes: "Chumbley / Crook Ancestors" (Contact: Glenna Chumbley; Updated: 2004-06-11 02:17:02 UTC (Fri))

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