Sir James Fullerton
Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, Agent and Courtier
Described as “humbly born” in The Montgomery Manuscripts. He established a “Free school” with James Hamilton in Dublin in 1587. Fullerton and Hamilton became agents of King James VI in Ireland. When James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne as James I in 1603, Fullerton became a “great favourite” at Court. It was Fullerton who intervened on Hamilton’s behalf when he became aware of Hugh Montgomery’s arrangement with Con O’Neill, ultimately securing a third share in the deal for his close friend, Hamilton.
The author of the Montgomery Manuscripts recorded that it was impossible for Montgomery’s original arrangement of a fifty-fifty split of lands with Con O’Neill to be concealed from “prying courtiers (the busiest bodies in all the world in other men's matters, which may profit themselves)”. There are no prizes for guessing that he had Fullerton in mind in this respect. Fullerton was described in hostile terms as one who “loved ready money, and to live in Court, more than in waste wildernesses in Ulster”. Again and again in the Montgomery Manuscripts there are references to the disastrous consequences of Fullerton’s interference in Montgomery’s arrangement with Con O’Neill. On one occasion it was described as that “killing dart” and on another as “that ominous and fatal interposition of Sir James Fullerton”.
It was a measure of Fullerton’s standing at Court that he became “Governor” to the heir to the throne, Prince Henry, whose tragic death in 1612 robbed England of a King Henry IX. A member of the “Commission for Irish affairs” Fullerton continued to exercise enormous influence, not least when the Plantation of Ulster was being planned and implemented following the Flight of the Earls in 1607. Along with Bishop Montgomery, he managed to ensure that Scots and English were granted an equal allocation of lands under the scheme of plantation, despite bitter opposition from Lord Deputy Chichester.
Fullerton was granted Olderfleet Castle (near Larne) in 1603; in 1616 he married Magdalen Bruce, widow of Sir Edward Bruce (a direct descendant of King Robert the Bruce) who had died in 1611.
Fullerton was buried in Westminster Abbey.