John Fuller 'Mad Jack'

20th Feb 1757 - 11th Apr 1834


John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, MP and heir to the Jamaica fortune of his uncle Rose Fuller MP (1708-1777). John Fuller owned the Knollis estate in St Thomas-in-the-Vale and Grange Pen in St Catherine, the compensation for which was paid to Augustus Elliott Fuller (q.v.) (the son of John Fuller's cousin John Trayton Fuller and partner with Rose Fuller (1748-1821)) after John Fuller's death in 1834. John Fuller's primary heir was his nephew Sir Peregrine Palmer Fuller Palmer Acland, the son of his sister Elizabeth.

  1. Son of Rev. Henry Fuller and his cousin Frances Fuller; nephew of Rose Fuller MP (1708-1777) and Stephen Fuller (1716-1799), the agent for Jamaica. MP for Southampton 1780-84 and Sussex 1801-12. Builder of follies, and in the ODNB as 'politician and eccentric.'

  2. The family fortune had twin sources, slave-ownership and a gunfoundry business in Sussex.

  3. Between 1810 and 1818 Fuller commissioned the great British painter, J. W. M. Turner to make a series of watercolours of Fuller’s house, Rosehill, and the area around it to be engraved and published as a record of Sussex. Some of Turner’s sketchbooks are in Tate Britain; the British Museum also owns some of the prints which were made.

  4. An early sponsor of the Royal Institution and supporter of the scientist Michael Faraday (1791-1867), Fuller endowed two professorships at the Royal Institution. Faraday was the first Fullerian Professor of Chemistry there from 1833 to 1867.

The last remaining holder of a Fullerian Professorship has discontinued the use of this title, and the Royal Institution has stopped awarding such positions in recent decades. There will be no new appointments to these positions.

  1. Death: "On Friday 11th inst John Fuller Esq., better known by the title "Jack Fuller". He was a very liberal benefactor the London Royal Institution, having founded two professorships and contributed to it altogether upwards of £10,000. His parliamentary career was rendered memorable by an insult to the Speaker, for which he was committed to the Tower. He was a Gentleman esteemed for his social qualities. His large estates, both in England and Jamaica, descend to a distant relation, Mr. Augustus Elliot Fuller, a collateral descendant General Elliot, afterwards Lord Heathfield, the celebrated defender of Gibraltar."

There is a website [accessed 22/02/2012] devoted to John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, though it has little on his Jamaican connections.

We are grateful to Robert Lanacshire, Peter Selley and Mike Anderson for their assistance with compiling this entry.


T71/852 St Catherine no. 575 and T71/855 St Thomas-in-the-Vale no. 289. See William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? A biographical dictionary of British wealth-holders Volume One 1809-1839 (London, Social Affairs Unit, 2009) reference 1834/26 for John Fuller (which gives erroneously John Fuller's father as Rev. John [sic] Fuller: his father was Rev. Henry Fuller.

  1. ODNB online J. P. J. Entract, 'Fuller, John (1757-1834), politician and eccentric'.

  2. ODNB online J.S. Hodgkinson 'Fuller family (per. c. 1650-1803), gunfounders and landowners' .

  3. For Turner and Fuller see among others, Anthony Bailey, Standing in the sun: a life of J. M. W. Turner (London, Sinclair-Stevenson, 1997). Collections include the Hastings Sketchbook and Views in Sussex in Tate Britain and watercolours and prints in the British Museum.

  4. ODNB online J. P. J. Entract, 'Fuller, John (1757-1834), politician and eccentric'; ODNB online Frank A. J. L. James, ‘Faraday, Michael (1791–1867)’.

  5. Westmorland Gazette 26/04/1834.

Further Information

Wealth at death
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (2)

£762 16s 10d
Previous owner (not making a claim)
£3,895 7s 7d
Previous owner (not making a claim)

Associated Estates (2)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1782 [EA] - 1834 [EY] → Owner
1799 [EA] - 11/05/1834 [ED] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (2)

Prints, Drawings and Paintings
Series of drawings commissioned from J. W. M. Turner by Fuller from 1810. Details are at: Tate Britain:... 
Royal Institution...... 
notes →
John Fuller subscribed two professorships, the Fullerian chairs in anatomy and physiology and in chemistry, at the Royal Institution....

Physical (3)

The Sugar Loaf [Built] 
description →
35 feet high cone...
The Observatory [Built] 
notes →
One of several follies constructed by John Fuller, built between 1810 and 1818....
Bodiam Castle [Purchased] 
description →
notes →
Purchased by John Fuller in 1828 and repaired by him to save it from complete ruin. Bodiam Castle has been the property of the National Trust since...

Political (1)

West India interest 
election →
Southampton Hampshire
1780 - 1784
election →
Sussex Sussex
1801 - 1812

Relationships (4)

Nephew → Uncle
First Cousins
Notes →
John Fuller's father the Rev. Henry Fuller was one of the brothers of Thomas Fuller, the London West India merchant who was in turn father of John Trayton Fuller and Rose Fuller of York...
Nephew → Uncle
First Cousins

Addresses (2)

36 Devonshire Place, London, Middlesex, London, England
Rosehill, Brightling, Sussex, South-east England, England