The Life and Times Robert Fuller 1615 - 1706

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HIST 150|
The Life and Times Robert Fuller 1615 – 1706|
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11/30/2010|

The historical account of Robert Fuller, farmer, bricklayer, seaman and Constable, will cover many fascinating events that occurred during his lifetime, including migration from England and a pioneering life in the New World. is seven generations removed from Robert Fuller.|

The Life and Times Robert Fuller
1615 – 1706

Robert Fuller was born in 1615, the oldest son of Thomas Fuller and Audrey Gylman Fuller (Farabee, 1997). The Fullers lived in Southampton, Hampshire, England, and the family name was derived from their primary occupation of “fulling”. Hampshire, England was well known for its many woolen cloth manufacturers.

The occupation of fulling was part of the cloth making process that was important to the refinement of finished cloth. The job consisted of compacting woollen fibers to make the cloth whiter, tighter and more durable. Wool has tiny scales all along the fibers, and when the woven wool is 'worked' by being scoured and beaten, the fibers ratchet together and the cloth becomes more compact and solid. If continued for a long time, the end result is felt for heavy clothing or hats. Woven cloth off the loom, say four to five inches wide, is washed and while still wet, is passed through an 'eye' at the top of the fulling machine. It is then sewn into a loop that may be 30' long. Rollers pull the cloth through the eye and it is 'thumped' by heavy wooden hammers tripped by a rotating drum with pegs on it. The cloth is kept moist and soapy, and is repeatedly passed around this circuit, becoming more compact and narrower in width.

The process, which could take as long as 26 hours, was carefully monitored until the desired degree of compaction was obtained. The cloth was then washed and cleaned with ‘fuller's earth’ (diatomaceous earth) and finally dried while being stretched back to its original width on a big frame with hooks all round, set out on big frames in a field. In the early days, the thumping was achieved by men trampling the cloth in a half-barrel. The process and chemicals was not good for the feet. With the mechanized use of water power, fulling mills were developed in the 1700s, and productivity and cloth quality rose sharply. Fulling was just part of the cloth making process. In 1906, a distant relative started the still existing Fuller Brush Company.

Although Robert learned the family occupation as a child, he was also a good farmer and became a bricklayer, or mason, by trade. In those days, the mason gathered, hauled and cleaned his stone for construction. He also mined the lime used as mortar. Usually, stone was used for building or home foundations, fireplaces, chimney stacks, bake ovens and cellar walls. The houses were generally not brick, but were back-plastered with lime.

In his early twenties, Robert became restless and dreamt of following relatives to the New World, the North American colonies. As a small boy, he had heard stories about two uncles (Samuel and Edward) and their families who crossed the Atlantic to establish a new colony, in the face of religious persecution from King James I. Stories were told of Samuel, a physician, who had met up with a Puritan minister, John Robinson. Robinson had left his position at Cambridge to become pastor of St. Andrew’s Church in Norwich. In 1609, Uncle Samuel soon followed Robinson and the Separatist congregation to Scrooby in the Netherlands, and then made their way to the city of Leiden, Holland. Samuel became a deacon of the new church. Along with the elders of the congregation, he entered into negotiations with some speculators to travel to North America to set up a colony where they could practice their religion in peace.

In 1620, a ship named the Speedwell departed Holland with a small number of Separatist colonists, Samuel Fuller among them. They docked at Southampton, Hampshire,...
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