FULLERTON, Sir James (c.1563-1631), of Broad Street, London and Byfleet, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Feb. 1626

Family and Education

b. c.1563, 3rd s. of John Fullerton of Dreghorn, Ayr. and Janet, da. of Mungo Muir of Rowallan, Ayr.1 educ. Glasgow, MA 1581.2 m. 9 Apr. 1616, Magdalen, da. of Alexander Clerk of Balbirnie, Fife, wid. of Edward Bruce, 1st Lord Bruce of Kinloss [S], of Chambersbury, Abbots Langley, Herts., master of the Rolls 1603-11, s.p.3 kntd. c.1604.4 d. 7 Jan. 1631.5 sig. Ja:[mes] Fullerton

Offices Held

Master, Dublin free sch. 1588-94;6 fell. Trin. Dublin 1593-1603, bursar 1597;7 commr. plantation, Ulster 1608;8 j.p. Herts. 1616-d., Surr. 1626-9;9 commr. sewers, Herts. 1617, highways 1622,10 enclosure, Gillingham forest, Dorset 1624-5.11

Muster-master gen. [I] 1603-9;12 PC [I] by 1606-at least 1611;13 commr. Irish causes 1610-11;14 gent. of the bedchamber and kpr. of the privy purse to Prince Charles 1611-16,15 surveyor-gen. to Prince Charles 1611-?1613;16 registrar of affidavits, Chancery 1615-16;17 master of the Wards, duchy of Cornw. 1616-at least 1623;18 groom of the stole to Prince Charles 1616-25, (as king) 1625-d.19


This Member’s father was descended from a Scottish minor gentry family; but Fullerton’s background remains obscure until he graduated at Glasgow and became a schoolmaster in Ireland. As a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, he was able to supplement his income by serving James VI as an intelligence agent.20 He was promoted to office in the Irish government and granted a pension after James ascended the English throne.21 Renowned as ‘a Scotch gentleman of great learning and very great worth’, he was summoned to England and naturalized in 1610 in order that he might be employed in the Household of Prince Charles.22 When Charles was created Prince of Wales in 1616, Fullerton was further promoted to groom of the stole.23

After his marriage (somewhat late in life) to the widow of another Scottish favourite, Lord Bruce, Fullerton resided chiefly on her Hertfordshire estate in Abbots Langley until it was sold by her son in 1624.24 Thereafter he moved to Byfleet, a property for which he was responsible as the prince’s trustee, where he completed the construction, begun by Anne of Denmark, of ‘a noble house built of brick’.25 As a possible rival to the royal favourite Buckingham, rumours of Fullerton’s dismissal from Court were rife in 1621, and may have prompted him to seek a safe haven as provost of Eton; but the post went to Sir Henry Wotton*.26 Fullerton nevertheless survived in the prince’s service and, unlike most of his colleagues, made the transition into the royal Household in 1625. He was one of the few Scottish courtiers to improve his position in the new reign.

Fullerton was returned to Charles’s first Parliament for St. Mawes, a duchy of Cornwall borough, probably with the assistance of his kinsman by marriage, William Coryton*, Pembroke’s vice-warden.27 He was appointed to help draft the address for a general fast (21 June 1625) and to manage the ensuing conference two days later.28 On 23 June he was the first Member named to the committee for a bill to enable the king’s Macclesfield tenants to mine for coal.29 The following day he was among those appointed to consider a bill against secret inquisitions, and to draw up articles for an address on religion.30 After the session relocated to Oxford to escape the plague, he was named to the conference with the Lords of 9 Aug. on religion. On the day of the dissolution, 12 Aug., Fullerton was ordered, with Sir Robert Kerr* and the privy councillors, to present the final protestation of the Commons to Charles justifying their refusal to vote additional supply as requested.31

There was a renewed rumour in Scottish circles in the autumn that Buckingham intended to remove Fullerton, but his good friend the 1st earl of Leicester (Sir Robert Sidney†), ascertained that Fullerton remained ‘in the same grace with the king’ as before, and he continued to receive substantial favours, such as a lease of the former royal forest of Gillingham at a nominal rent.32 Fullerton does not seem to have stood at the next general election, but was nominated to fill a vacancy at Portsmouth by Pembroke, as governor of the town, and duly returned.33 He had taken his seat by 4 Mar. 1626, when he was among those ordered to attend a conference with the Lords on the summons to Buckingham, as lord admiral, to explain his conduct over the seizure of the French ship St. Peter.34 In his account of the proceedings (Sir) James Bagg II* observed that ‘Fullerton speaks nothing’; nevertheless Fullerton became one of the principal channels of communication between the Court and the Commons.35 He brought no less than ten messages from the king, and was named to five more committees, including those to consider the bill for preserving the revenue, and to attend the conference on the war with Spain (both 7 March).36 On 20 Mar. he acted as teller against a Suffolk estate bill, probably in the interests of Thomas Coventry*, who planned to marry the heiress.37 With (Sir) John Coke and (Sir) Humphrey May he attended the king on 5 Apr. to ask when he would be pleased to receive the Commons’ Remonstrance, and served on the delegation to present it that afternoon.38 Fullerton was named on 4 May to help draft an address on the revenue.39 His last committee was for a bill to enable marriages to take place in Lent (6 May).40 On 14 June Fullerton and Sir Robert Carey, together with Sir George More and another Scotsman, William Murray, were sent to desire access to the king for the presentation of the declaration against Buckingham.41

Fullerton does not appear to have stood again, despite having a personal interest in a bill exhibited in the 1628 Parliament concerning his wife’s son-in-law, Sir William Cavendish I*.42 He continued undiminished in the king’s regard, receiving a 31-year grant of the fee farms of certain duchy of Cornwall lands in 1630.43 Six clergymen, including the prominent puritan preachers William Gouge and Gilbert Primrose, dedicated works to him, as did the ‘old puritanical poet’ Francis Quarles, brother of Sir Robert*.44 Fullerton was ill when he drew up his will on 28 Dec. 1630. Heavily in debt, despite a post said to be worth £2,500 p.a., his pension and his Crown leases, he begged the king, as ‘an old, faithful and careful dying servant’ who ‘desired to deal justly and honestly with the world’, to enable his stepson and executor, Lord Bruce, to clear £8,000 due from him as security for a loan to the Crown, a plea which was met by the issue of a Privy Seal. To his ‘dear and well-beloved’ wife Fullerton left his lease of Byfleet and his goods there and in London, ‘but a poor remembrance for so faithful and careful a wife as she hath been unto me’, and asked her to look after his servants. The rest of his estates, including leases of lead mines, were to be sold for payment of his debts.45 He died on 7 Jan. 1631, and was given a ‘pompous deportation’ to Westminster Abbey at night, with a cort├Ęge of 100 coaches.46 ‘Little did he think of such grandeur’, wrote John Pory*, ‘when he was usher of the free school at Dublin’.47 The epitaph on his elaborate monument proclaimed that ‘he died fuller of faith than of fear, fuller of resolution than of pains, fuller of honour than of days’.48

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. W. Anderson, Scottish Nation, ii. 271, 273-4.
  • 2. Recs. Glasgow Univ. iii. 4.
  • 3. CP, ii. 351; Anderson, 274.
  • 4. Al. Dub. 312.
  • 5. C115/105/8130.
  • 6. Cal. Recs. Dublin ed. J.T. Gilbert, ii. 219; APC, 1591-2, p. 153.
  • 7. J.P. Mahaffy, Epoch in Irish Hist. 78, 123, 125; HMC Hatfield, vii. 151.
  • 8. CSP Carew, 1603-24, p. 13.
  • 9. C231/4, ff. 23, 208; C66/2527.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 297v; 181/3, f. 69v.
  • 11. C66/2351; Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 649-50.
  • 12. CPR Ire. Jas. I, 37, 88; CSP Ire. 1608-10, p. 162.
  • 13. CSP Ire. 1606-8, p. 9.
  • 14. CSP Ire. 1608-10, p. 347.
  • 15. CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 50, 206; Carey Mems. ed. F.H. Mares, 72, 75.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 28; C66/2007/7.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1611-8, pp. 284, 416.
  • 18. SC6/Jas.I/1680-1, unfol.; CSP Dom. Addenda 1580-1625, p. 653.
  • 19. G.E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 317-18; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 58.
  • 20. CSP Scot. 1597-1603, pp. 583, 763, 1051.
  • 21. C66/1878, 2026; CSP Ire. 1603-6, pp. 72, 106, 191; HMC Hatfield, xiv. 171.
  • 22. Carey Mems. 69-70; LJ, ii. 636a, 637b, 644a, 653a.
  • 23. SP15/43/68; Aylmer, 317-18.
  • 24. VCH Herts. ii. 326; Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 225, 431.
  • 25. SP16/180/17; VCH Surr. iii. 402; Aubrey, Antiqs. Surr. iii. 194-5.
  • 26. PRO 31/3/55; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 402, 487.
  • 27. CSP Dom. Addenda 1625-49, p. 113.
  • 28. Procs. 1625, pp. 205, 228.
  • 29. Ibid. 226.
  • 30. Ibid. 238, 240.
  • 31. Ibid. 422, 472, 475, 482.
  • 32. HMC Mar and Kellie, ii. 234; Sidney Letters ed. A. Collins, ii. 364; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 554; 1628-9, p. 15.
  • 33. CSP Dom. Addenda 1625-49, p. 113.
  • 34. Procs. 1626, ii. 195.
  • 35. N and Q (ser. 4), x. 325.
  • 36. Procs. 1626, ii. 198, 214, 216.
  • 37. Ibid. ii. 320; Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 312.
  • 38. Procs. 1626, ii. 430.
  • 39. Ibid. iii. 156.
  • 40. Ibid. 180.
  • 41. Ibid. 445.
  • 42. CD 1628, iv. 502.
  • 43. C66/2452.
  • 44. W. Gouge, A Guide to go to God (1626); G. Primrose, The Table of the Lord (1626); F. Quarles, The Tragedy of Samson (1630).
  • 45. PROB 11/159, f. 110.
  • 46. C115/105/8130.
  • 47. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, ii. 89-90.
  • 48. J.P. Neale, Westminster Abbey, ii. 179.