Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Fuller Parliamentary Tradition

John Fuller (1680-1745) was MP for the county of Sussex in 1715. He was a Tory and by 1734 considered one of the three main leaders of the opposition in the county to the dominant Whig The Duke of Newcastle.
The other opponents were Sir Cecil Bishop and Thomas Sergison (John 'Mad Jack' Fuller would later face Colonel Warden Sergison as opponent in the 1807 election). Fuller and Bishop teamed up to contest the election of June 1734 hoping to win the two Sussex county seats - they were unsuccessful.
The result:
Henry Pelham 2271 votes
James Butler 2053
Sir Cecil Bishop 1704
John Fuller 1581
They were facing powerful opponents; they were heavily outspent; and the Whigs also had a concerted registration drive with a "prodigious number of false" votes according to Fuller.
The Honourable Henry Pelham (1695-1754) went on to become Prime Minister 1743-54. He was the brother of Thomas Pelham-Holles, first Duke of Newcastle, (1693-1768). His brother's interest had already provided him a seat in Parliament, first for the small borough of Seaford in 1717, then for the county of Sussex in 1722.
Newcastle succeeded his brother Henry Pelham as Prime Minister on the latter's death in 1754. He was Prime Minister 1754-6 and 1757-62. During his second term in office, he headed a coalition with William Pitt the Elder, until Pitt's resignation in 1761.

Crossley, D.W., & Saville, R.V., The Fuller Letters: Guns, Slaves and Finance 1728-1755 (S.R.S.
[Sussex Record Society] 1991) ISBN 0-85445-037-8

The West India lobby

John Fuller married Elizabeth Rose in July 1703 - she was the daughter of Dr Fulke Rose. She had inherited plantations in Jamaica. Here started the Fuller Jamaica connection - sugar, rum, slavery and all.
After the death of John Fuller in 1745, his son John (1706-1755) took a more pragmatic approach to the Whig administration - after all the Fuller family fortune depended on a strong navy to control the routes to the West Indies and orders for cannon for that navy.
When his brother Rose Fuller returned from Jamaica in 1755 he became MP for Rye and later was a key figure in the West India lobby in Parliament. This grouping, also known as the Jamaica interest, consisted of sixty or seventy members who protected the slave trade and profited from the sugar business.
But who were these people? To be continued....

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