Biography of Timothy Fuller, Sr.

TIMOTHY FULLER, the sixth child and third son of Jacob Fuller, was born at Middleton, on the 18th of May, 1739. He entered Harvard University at the age of nineteen, and graduated in 1760. His name over that date is still (1859) seen on the corner-stone of one of the college buildings. He applied himself to theology, and in March, 1767, received from the church and town of Princeton, Mass., a nearly unanimous invitation to become their pastor, having previously supplied their pulpit for two years. Here he was ordained the first minister of Princeton, 9th September, 1767. In 1770 he married Sarah Williams, daughter of Rev. Abraham Williams of Sandwich, Mass. He was successful as a preacher, and his people were united in him till the war of the revolution broke out. He declared at the time, and ever afterwards, that he was friendly to the principles of the revolution, and anxiously desired that his country should be liberated from its dependence on the British crown; but he was naturally a very cautious man, and believed this result would be certain to come, if the country reserved itself for action till its strength was somewhat matured, and its resources in a better state of preparation. Resistance at the time he believed premature, and thought that we were hazarding all by too precipitate action. Such views, however, were by no means congenial to the heated zeal of his townsmen. He first gave dissatisfaction by a discourse he preached to the “minute men,” at the request of the town, choosing for his text 1 Kings 20:11: “Let not him that girdeth on the harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.” He was not a man to swerve from his own cool and deliberate views through the pressure of public opinion; and his persistence in them led to his dismissal from the pastorate in 1776, by an ex parte council, his parish refusing to agree with him upon a mutual council. He removed soon after to Martha’s Vineyard, and preached to the society in Chilmark till the war was ended. He then removed to Middleton, and brought a suit against the town of Princeton for his salary. His dismissal had been irregular, and the law of the case was in his favor; but the jury had too much sympathy with the motives that actuated the town to render a verdict in his behalf. It was supposed this result would be crushing to him, and that he would not be prepared to pay costs recovered by the town; and some were malignant enough to anticipate with pleasure the levy of the execution. But they were disappointed; for, when the sheriff called upon him, he coolly counted out the amount of the execution in specie, which, with his habitual caution, he had carefully hoarded to meet this very exigency. He soon after returned to Princeton, where he applied himself to the careful education of his children, in connection with the cultivation of a large farm, which embraced within its bounds the Wachusett mountain.

None of his children attended any other than this family school; all were carefully taught, and several fitted for college at home. Those in the town who had been opposed to him soon became reconciled and even warmly attached. He was very active in town affairs, and represented Princeton in the convention which approved and adopted the present federal constitution. He himself, with his characteristic firmness, voted against the constitution, mainly on the ground of its recognition of slavery; and he has left his reasons on record. In 1796, he removed to Merrimac, N. H., where he continued to reside till his decease, on the morning of the 3d of July, 1805, at the age of sixty-seven, leaving a wife and ten children to mourn his loss. His wife deserves more than a passing notice, as she must have had no small influence in moulding the character of the children. Her father, Rev. Abraham Williams, was a person of genuine piety, a warm patriot, and an ardent friend of the revolution. His letter accepting his call at Sandwich, which is still carefully preserved, breathes a pure Christian spirit; as also a subsequent communication, in which he expresses a willingness to dispense with a portion of his salary to accommodate himself to the narrow means of his people. His will is likewise very characteristic. He emancipates his slaves, and requires his children to contribute to their support if they shall be destitute; and ” deprives any child who may refuse to give bonds to perform this duty of his share of the estate, giving to such child in lieu thereof a new Bible of the cheapest sort, hoping that, by the blessing of Heaven, it may teach him to do justice and love mercy.” He married Anna Buckminster, daughter of Col. Joseph Buckminster, Jr.,* of Framingham, and aunt of the distinguished clergyman, Rev. Joseph Buckminster, D.D., of Portsmouth, N. H., who was father of Rev. Joseph Stevens Buckminster, of Boston. Rev. Mr. Williams graduated from Harvard University in 1744, and died 12th of August, 1784, aged fifty-seven. His daughter Sarah, wife of Rev. Timothy Fuller, possessed a vigorous understanding and an honorable ambition, which she strove to infuse into her children. She died in 1822. Rev. Timothy Fuller left five daughters and five sons. The sons were Timothy, Abraham Williams, Henry Holton, William Williams, and Elisha; of these we shall speak more in detail.

The following, taken from the ” Boston Transcript,” December, 1899, is of interest as it concerns several ancestors.

” Lawson. Sarah Lawson was daughter of John and Sarah (Simpson) Lawson of Boston, and granddaughter of Savil Simpson of Boston, Framingham and Hopkinton. She was born 1702, married to Colonel Joseph Buckminster June 18, 1719, at Hopkinton, Mass., where her grandfather, Savil Simpson, owned 500 acres of land which he had bought from the heirs of Colonel William Crowne, in what was then included in Framingham, but later was set off to Hopkinton, and is now included in the town of Ashland. She was named in her grandfather Savil Simpson’s will, who died Aug. 22, 1725; will probated January 3, 1726. Colonel Joseph Buckminster, Jr., was the son of Colonel Joseph and Martha (Sharp) Buckminster; his mother, Martha Sharp, being the daughter of John and Martha (Vose) Sharp of Muddy River (Brookline). Sarah Lawson Buckminster died Sept. 11, 1747, having borne her husband seven children. He married, second, widow Hannah Kiggell, who bore him one son. Colonel Joseph Buckminster, Jr., received his commission in 1738-39, and was prominent in town affairs for nearly forty years. He died May 15, 1780, aged eighty-three.”




Fuller, Arthur Buckminster, and Fuller, Edith Davenport. Historical notices of Thomas Fuller and his descendants, with a genealogy of the Fuller family, 1638-1902. Cambridge, Mass.: Privately Published. 1902.

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