FULMERSTON, Richard (by 1516-67), of Ipswich, Suff. and Thetford, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1516, poss. s. of Richard Fulmerston. m. by Mar. 1539, Alice, da. of one Lonzam of Suff. wid. of Thomas Hayward (d.1534) of Ipswich, at least 1da. Kntd. 24 July 1560.1

Offices Held

Servant of Thomas, 3rd Duke of Norfolk by 1537; under steward to Mary, Duchess of Richmond 1538; steward to Henry, Earl of Surrey 1538-44; troner and peiser, Ipswich 1545; marshal of the King’s bench 1548; comptroller of the household to Edward, Duke of Somerset by Mar. 1548-52; commr. chantries, Norf., Suff. 1548, relief 1550; treasurer to Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk 1558-d.; j.p.q. Norf. 1558/59-d.; collector loan 1562.2


Richard Fulmerston’s parentage is not certainly known, but his family, presumably sprung from the Norfolk village of Fulmodeston, had a long connexion with the dukes of Norfolk—a namesake who may have been the Member’s father had audited the accounts at Framlingham in 1479. Fulmerston had joined the household of the 3rd Duke by May 1537 when he was entrusted with a letter to Cromwell, and by the following year he was also in the service of two of the duke’s children.3

That Fulmerston profited from his time with the Howards and from his marriage to the widow of an Ipswich merchant is evident from his extensive purchases made during the 1540s of property in East Anglia. After the Dissolution he bought the nunnery, the canonry, and the Dominican and Augustinian friaries, all in Thetford. He also leased Thetford priory from Norfolk, and purchased the lands of Rushworth College in Suffolk from the Earl of Surrey and paid £940 for the rents reserved upon numerous monastic lands and for two chantries in Norfolk and Suffolk. His acquisitions gave him authority in Thetford surpassed only by his master’s, and after the duke’s fall he became supreme in that neighbourhood.4

When Norfolk and his son were arrested in December 1546 Fulmerston was examined by the Privy Council. He spoke vigorously in support of the two, whose ‘earnest drudge and servant’ he had been, and he denied abusing his office to help Surrey or ‘pricking him forward in his young desires’. His duty was

merely in lending money when he was called to serve and therein I never borrowed of his farmers, or tenants, or took their rents and farms before the time, but ever chirted of myself and my own friends, and at this hour he owes me above £140, of which I have no other surety, but 1,000 sheep yet going upon his ground, or his father’s.

Fulmerston does not appear to have suffered in the Howard catastrophe and he soon obtained an appointment in the Protector Somerset’s household.5

It was doubtless to his new patron, who was to refer to him as his ‘loving servant’, that Fulmerston owed his return to the first Edwardian Parliament. His post of marshal of the King’s bench, an office which he is known to have held in 1548 but which he had probably been given by Norfolk, offered an excuse for his election for Southwark where the Marshalsea was situated. His fellow-Member (Sir) John Gates had listed the Howard possessions on Norfolk’s attainder, and Fulmerston assisted him in the disposal of the movable goods. He is not known to have been among Somerset’s adherents arrested after the coup d’état of 1549, but he was evidently stripped of his marshalship which was granted to William Naunton on 12 Nov. of that year. Fulmerston was clearly not in favour with Northumberland for he received no royal grants for the remainder of Edward VI’s reign and he is not known to have sat in the Parliament of March 1553.6

Fulmerston’s position at court had earlier enabled him to acquire further lands in Norfolk. He purchased Thetford priory from Somerset himself in 1547, and later bought further property in the vicinity, as well as lands in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, the centre of Seymour power. Some of these transactions may have been on Somerset’s behalf. When (Sir) William Sharington was arrested in February 1549 Fulmerston went to his house on Tower Hill to make an inventory of his possessions and allegedly removed a diamond and a white ruby for the Duchess of Somerset, and the rich hangings and furniture from five rooms for the duke’s London house.7

Fulmerston rallied to Mary’s support in July 1553 and in the following November he was appointed a receiver of fines levied upon Northumberland’s supporters, a duty he again performed in the following May. Yet in the first Parliament of the reign he was noted to have ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism. On this occasion and for the two subsequent Parliaments Fulmerston owed his place at Great Bedwyn to (Sir) John Thynne with whom he corresponded regularly. On 8 July 1554 he wrote to Thynne:

I am of necessity driven to follow the end of my suit of the great matter between my lord of Norfolk and me, which ... toucheth the substance of my whole living, for my help in part I am moved to crave your accustomed friendship, for, so it is, the matter committed, in compromise to divers of the Council. They have amongst others ordered ... that I shall have my land again, at the duke’s redemption, that I delivered in exchange for his, and then he to have again that [which] was his. And further, for such lands as I bought, he to have his land again, and I the money that I paid for the same.

He went on to ask Thynne to inform Norfolk what sum he had paid for Thetford priory since he had not received an acquittance from Somerset: this Thynne did in two similar letters addressed to the duke on 18 and 19 July. Norfolk had been restored to his honours by Mary, but evidently Fulmerston was never reconciled to his erstwhile master, who died in the following August, although he was to re-enter the service of the Howards under the duke’s grandson and heir. During the Parliament of November 1554 Fulmerston approached Sir Nicholas Lestrange unsuccessfully about some property which Thynne wished to buy. Fulmerston’s name appears over an erasure on the election indenture made on 17 Mar. 1554 and was inserted in a different hand on that made on the following 26 Oct.8

Fulmerston was returned in 1558 for Horsham, proof of his new duties in the service of the young Duke of Norfolk, who owned the borough. On the copy of the list of Members in use for the second session of this Parliament his name is marked with a circle. He remained in Norfolk’s service until his death on 3 Feb. 1567.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Add. 19130, f. 277; LP Hen. VIII, xiv; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 153; Norwich consist. ct. 108/109 Platfoote, ex inf. R. Virgoe.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xvi, xvii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1548-9, p. 136; 1553, p. 357; APC, ii. 556; Egerton 2815; CSP For. 1572-4, p. 351.
  • 3. Add. 19130, f. 277; LP Hen. VIII, xii, xxi; Paston Letters, ed. Davis, i. 324.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii-xxi; Arundel castle mss G1/7; HMC Var. vii. 120; Blomefield, Norf. ii. 57, 64, 70-71, 74.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 2, ff. 10-10v.
  • 6. APC, ii. 556; LR2/115, 116; M. L. Bush, Govt. Pol. Somerset, 89.
  • 7. CPR, 1547-8, p. 211; 1548-9, p. 241; HMC Var. vii. 120; Hoare, Wilts. Heytesbury, i. 79-80; iii. 68; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxvii. 164-6; E315/218, f. 103, 223, f. 9.
  • 8. APC, iv. 431; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 195, 301; Bodl. e Museo 17; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 2, ff. 179-83, 201-4v, 219-19v; C219/22/98, 23/152.
  • 9. Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264; C142/145/45.