Samuel Fuller (Pilgrim)
Samuel Fuller (born c.1580/1 – died in Plymouth between August 9 and September 26, 1633) He was a passenger on the historic 1620 voyage of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower and became a respected church deacon and the physician for Plymouth Colony.
He was baptized on January 20, 1580 at Redenhall, co. Norfolk, England. Samuel was a son of Robert Fuller, a butcher, and his first wife Sarah Dunthorne. She was buried there on July 1, 1584. In 1614 Samuel is mentioned in the will of his father Robert, but was bequeathed a small amount of inheritance money, less even than his sisters, which may indicate his father’s unhappiness with him.
Life in Holland
His first mention in records of the time was of his move to Leiden by 1610 where he was a witness to his sister Ann’s betrothal. And in 1611 he witnessed the betrothal of future Mayflower passenger Degory Priest to Sarah Allerton, sister of another Mayflower passenger, Isaac Allerton.
On January 27, 1612 he witnessed the betrothal of his sister Ann to a William White, apparently not the Mayflower passenger of the same name. This one record entry has gone on to cause much confusion in more recent genealogy with apparent Mayflower passenger William White descendants mistakenly claiming that Ann Fuller married the Mayflower passenger William White in Leiden and assigning the Mayflower passenger William Whites wife Susannah the maiden name (which the Mayflower Society states is unknown) of “Fuller”. Additionally, the Society states that there is no proof that the Mayflower White family were ever in Leiden and in fact joined the company in England as non-religious members.
Samuel Fuller was betrothed to Agnes Carpenter, daughter of Alexander Carpenter, on March 15, 1613 in Leiden. They married on April 24, 1613. The marriage record notes a prior marriage to Alice Glasscock, who was deceased, but no record have been found of this marriage in Leiden or England.
On May 7, 1613, Samuel Fuller witnessed the betrothal of Alice Carpenter, sister to his wife Agnes, to Edward Southworth. Alice would later be widowed and in 1623 would marry Plymouth Governor William Bradford.
In mid-1615 Samuel’s wife Agnes gave birth to a boy who died soon after and was buried on June 29, 1615 at St. Peter’s in Leiden. Agnes died a few days later and was buried on July 3, 1615.[self-published source]
In October 1615 records note that Samuel was living in the Groene Poort (Green Alley) neighborhood of Leiden “over against the clock tower”.
On May 27, 1617 Samuel Fuller remarried to Bridget Lee.
His name appears in Leiden records as a witness to betrothals in his English religious community for several years more.
Organizing of the voyage
Samuel Fuller was involved in the church’s decision to move to Northern Virginia per agreement with the Virginia Company and would later be a deacon of the Plymouth church. Fuller, along with key congregation members Edward Winslow, William Bradford and Isaac Allerton, sent a letter on June 10, 1620 to their agents in England (John Carver and Robert Cushman) who were organizing the Mayflower voyage. The letter expressed the frustration that they were having with changes being made to the terms and conditions of the contract covering the voyage as being re-written by Merchant Adventurers agent Thomas Weston who turned out to be quite disreputable in his dealing with the Mayflower company and also later in Plymouth. The complaints of unreasonable conditions expressed the June 1620 letter included – London merchants would keep half the housing and lands when the company was liquidated – they thought the lands and houses belonged to the settlers; they complained that a change in terms allowed only one day a week off from labor instead of the previously agreed two days, of which one day was to be for personal benefit and one day was for the Sabbath. When the Mayflower departed England, none of the complaints had been resolved and the agreement had not been finalized. This problem persisted for more than a year and was partially resolved upon agent Robert Cushman's arrival on the Fortune in November 1621.
Samuel Fuller boarded the Mayflower with only his servant William Butten, leaving his wife Bridget and his young daughter Bridget behind in Leiden, awaiting until the colony conditions would better suit families. His brother, Edward Fuller was also a passenger and traveled with his wife and a son, also named Samuel.
The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England on September 6/16, 1620. The small, 100-foot ship carried 102 passengers and a crew of about 30-40 in extremely cramped conditions. By the second month out, the ship was being buffeted by strong westerly gales, causing the ship‘s timbers to be badly shaken with caulking failing to keep out sea water, and with passengers, even in their berths, lying wet and ill. This, combined with a lack of proper rations and unsanitary conditions for several months, attributed to what would be fatal for many, especially the majority of women and children. On the way there were two deaths, a crew member and a passenger, but the worst was yet to come after arriving at their destination when, in the space of several months, almost half the passengers perished during the cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.
On November 9/19, 1620, after about 3 months at sea, including a month of delays in England, they spotted land, which was the Cape Cod Hook, now called Provincetown Harbor. And after several days of trying to get south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, strong winter seas forced them to return to the harbor at Cape Cod hook, where they anchored on November 11/21. Samuel Fuller and others signed the Mayflower Compact that day.
Life in Plymouth Colony
In the winter of 1620-1621, almost half of the Pilgrims died of starvation. Samuel lost his brother, Edward and sister-in-law. Samuel became the guardian of his nephew by the same name of Samuel. In 1623, Samuel’s wife Bridget arrived on the ship Anne. Also in 1623, as part of the Division of Land, Samuel received two acres of land and his wife Bridget received her share “in with a corner by the pond.”
In 1626, Samuel Fuller, along with other senior company members Bradford, Brewster, Winslow, Standish, Allerton, and others was one of the Purchasers involved with the joint-stock company.
In the 1627 Division of Cattle, which noted settler animal distribution, Samuel and his wife Bridget are named as heading the eighth company and receiving several animals.
In 1629, a group of settlers led by John Endicott, the founder of Salem, arrived in need of medical care and advice on church organization. Plymouth sent Samuel Fuller to assist, and Endicott later warmly expressed his appreciation in a letter to William Bradford dated May 11, 1629. A similar situation occurred in 1630 when Fuller aided colonists at Charlestown by letting blood (a common medical practice at the time) for some twenty persons. Letters from William Bradford detail the situation at "Mattapan" and note that there were many sick and dead at his location.
In 1637, a Plymouth resident named Thomas Morton wrote a scathing analysis of Samuel Fuller’s medical abilities in his book "New English Canaan." A quite strong paragraph in his analysis is quoted here: “But in mine opinion, he deserves to be set upon a palfrey (horse), and led up and down in triumph through New Canaan, with a collar of Jurdans about his neck, as was one of like desert in Richard the Second’s time through the streets of London, that men might know where to find a quacksalver (quack).”.
The Plymouth public in general seemed to appreciate his medical and religious abilities.
In the summer of 1633, Samuel Fuller fell ill with a sickness (“infectious fever”) that had spread through Plymouth by autumn. Nathaniel Morton wrote about Samuel Fuller’s demise in his 1669 New England’s Memorial: “.. among the rest, Mr. Samuel Fuller then died, after he had much helped others, and was a comfort to them; he was their surgeon and physician, and did much good in his place, being not only useful in his faculty, but otherwise, as he was a godly man, and served Christ in his office of a deacon in the church for many years, and forward to do good in his place, and was much missed after God removed him out of this world.”
Samuel Fuller married three times:
His first wife was Alice Glasscock, he possibly married her in England, she died by 1613. Then, he wed Agnes Carpenter, when she was around about 24 years old, they married in Leiden April 23, 1613. Banks states they were married March 15, 1613. She was one of five daughters of Alexander and Priscilla Carpenter of Wrington, co. Somerset, near Bristol and all were later residents of Leiden by about 1600. Witnesses at her wedding were her father Alexander, sister Alice and Edward Southworth, who would become Alice’s husband a month after Agnes’ wedding. In 1615, Agnes gave birth to an unnamed child who died at birth and was buried in Leiden on June 29. Agnes herself died soon after, possibly from complications, the exact date of her death being unknown. She was buried at St. Pieterskerk (St. Peter’s Church) in Leiden on July 3, 1615.
His third marriage was with Bridget Lee in Leiden on May 27, 1617. She died May 2, 1667. It is unclear how many children they had. Banks states she was the daughter of Joyce Lee and sister of Samuel Lee and that she married Samuel Fuller on May 12, 1617.
Child of Samuel Fuller and wife Agnes:
- In 1615 Agnes gave birth to an unnamed child which died soon after and was buried at St. Peter’s Church in Leiden on June 29, 1615.
Children of Samuel Fuller and wife Bridget:
- A child born in Leiden (1622 - died 1623 at Plymouth, Massachusetts.) Bradford’s list of passengers stated “His wife was left behind, and a child which came afterwards.” If so, a child was not mentioned in Samuel’s will.
- Bridget Fuller (1624) married Henry Sirkman in Plymouth on September 30, 1641, she also married a Ralph Jones dates unknown.
- Mercy born after May 22, 1627. She was still living as of Bradford’s list of passengers made in 1651, but there is no further record.
- Samuel born about 1629. Samuel died on August 17, 1695.
- Samuel Fuller (Jr) married:
- 1. A woman whose name is unknown and had one child.
- 2. Elizabeth (Nicholas) Bowen between April 11, 1663, and May 2, 1667, and had seven children.
Samuel Fuller's Will, Death and Burial
Samuel Fuller made out his will on July 30, 1633, calling himself “sick and weak,” and died sometime between August 9 and September 26, 1633.
His will was proved October 28, 1633 and his estate inventory was presented to the court the following January 
Samuel Fuller's burial place is unknown.
Servant traveling in company with Samuel Fuller on the Mayflower
William Butten sailed on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Samuel Fuller, and was listed as “a youth.” According to popular belief, his father had died when he was young and his mother could not financially support him. Author Caleb Johnson provides his research that the Butten family had an early association with the Leiden Separatists, and that William, son of John, was baptized on March 13, 1605 at Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Some Leiden church members were known in Worksop, as early Separatist churches were developed there. Worksop is located near William Bradford's birthplace in Austerfield, Yorkshire.
Butten was sick for most of the two-month Mayflower voyage and died on November 6, 1620 – just three days before the sighting of Cape Cod. William Bradford wrote “in all this voyage there died but one of the passengers, which was William Butten, a youth, servant to Samuel Fuller, when they drew near the coast.”
- Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, the Fortune in 1621, and the Anne and the Little James in 1623 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), p. 56
- A genealogical profile of Samuel Fuller, (a collaboration of Plimoth Plantation and New England Historic Genealogical Society accessed 2013)
- Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, the Fortune in 1621, and the Anne and the Little James in 1623 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), p. 146
- Caleb H. Johnson. The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 147
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 413
- George Ernest Bowman, The Mayflower Compact and its signers, (Boston: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1920), Photocopies of the 1622, 1646 and 1669 versions of the document, pp. 7-19.
- Caleb H. Johnson. The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 148
- Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), pp. 148-150
- Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 150
- Mayflower Quarterly, vol. 79, no. 4, pp. 328-341
- Mayflower Quarterly, vol. 79, no. 4, pp. 328, 329, 331, 332, 333
- Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, the Fortune in 1621, and the Anne and the Little James in 1623 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), p. 147
- Caleb Johnson, The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 150
- Memorial for Samuel Fuller
- Caleb Johnson, The Mayflower and her passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 105
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 257
- Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, the Fortune in 1621, and the Anne and the Little James in 1623 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), p. 42
- Norman Gevitz, "Samuel Fuller of Plymouth Plantation: A 'Skillful Physician' or 'Quacksalver'?'", Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 47 (1992): 29-48.
- Arthur and Katherine Radasch, Mayflower Families for Five Generations: Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller and William White, volume 1 (Plymouth: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1974).
- Francis H. Fuller, Early New England Fullers, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 55(1901):192-196.
- Francis H. Fuller, Fullers of Redenhall, England, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 55(1901):410-414.
- Will of Samuel Fuller
- References to Samuel Fuller