FULHAM, John (1664-1726), of Compton, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 19 June 1664, 4th s. of Rev. Edward Fulham (d. 1694), DD, of Windsor, Berks. by Margaret, da. of Sir Robert Clerke of Oxon. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1680, BA 1683, MA 1686; I. Temple 1682, called 1689; M. Temple 1694. m. 19 May 1687, Anne (d. 1720), da. of Robert Waith of Camberwell, Surr., 2s. 6da. (2 d.v.p.)
Recorder, Guildford 1703–22, Chichester 1709–12.
A younger son of an eminent royalist divine, Fulham chose not to follow the clerical path taken by three of his brothers, and embarked on a career in the law. His father, an attendant of Charles II in exile, had been the first to establish a family seat in Surrey, and the Compton estate enabled Fulham to seek advancement at nearby Guildford. His first notable appointment, the recordership of Guildford, which he gained in October 1703, highlighted his professional reputation and he later gained further recognition when chosen by the borough of Chichester to the same office. His family background clearly marked him out as a Tory, and his connexions with several of the party’s leading households in the west of the shire provided him with an interest sufficient to launch his brief parliamentary career.1
In the run-up to the election of 1705 Fulham was cited as one of the likely candidates for the forthcoming contest at Guildford, a prediction which reflected the influence he wielded by virtue of his corporate office. However, he chose to stand at Haslemere instead, taking advantage of a local Tory strategy to rotate the borough’s two seats between the party’s supporters among the neighbouring gentry. Although suggestions were subsequently made that Fulham and his running-mate George Woodroffe* had rebuffed a challenge from two other local Tories, there is no evidence of a poll having taken place and Fulham certainly voted for the Tory candidate at the ensuing county election. At the outset of his political career he was cited by a printed parliamentary list as ‘Low Church’, a surprising verdict given his family’s strong Anglicanism, but on 25 Oct. 1705 he predictably voted against the Court candidate for Speaker. He did not make any significant contribution to the business of the House in the first session, but thereafter became closely involved in several mercantile matters, beginning on 27 Mar. 1707 with a report from the committee to review a petition complaining of the seizure of an English ship in Scotland. A week later he carried up to the Lords a private estate bill. He reported on another merchant petition on 13 Feb. 1708, in the wake of which he was ordered to prepare a bill to improve Portsmouth harbour and the ballasting of royal vessels. He duly presented that bill to the House on 25 Feb. and his last important duties concerned bills to enable merchants to compound with the Treasury.
Identified as a Tory in early 1708, Fulham seemed reluctant to contest the May general election, at which one of the Haslemere seats was lost to the Whigs. However, although destined never to return to the House, he sought to promote the local Tory cause in November 1712 by acting as one of the co-presenters at court of an address which highly praised the current administration. He played no other prominent political role before his death in April 1726, having been prepared some four years before to resign his recordership at Guildford. He was succeeded in that office by Arthur Onslow†, a political rival who subsequently acted as a patron of the Fulham household, most notably by obtaining for Fulham’s son John a chaplaincy at the House of Commons. This proved to be the extent of the family’s parliamentary involvement in the 18th century, although Fulham’s grandson re-established links with the court by becoming a chaplain to George III.2