by John

Not all work with genealogical records is confined strictly to the pursuit of one’s own family history. Sometimes records that fall under the heading of “genealogical” are also of interest to the antique collector and dealer. My wife is a Certified Estate Specialist and works as an agent for selling personal property through estate sales. She recently offered for sale an exquisite Regency sterling silver tea service, and from hallmarks on the silver she was able to determine that it was made in London in 1814 by Crispin Fuller. Who was Crispin Fuller, she asked me. The answer, at least at first, was not altogether clear cut.
Crispin_Fuller_silver[1]
My wife did a preliminary search using Google, as any researcher would. There, online, were numerous references to Fuller’s work being sold at auctions, being offered for sale, mostly in English galleries, and listings of a few pieces on display in museums for its fine quality. However, very little appeared about Crispin Fuller the man or the artist, despite the acclaim he seems to enjoy among silver collectors. (Many of his pieces sell for more than $4,000). Books did not prove especially helpful. Montague Howard’s 1903 work, Old London Silver, available digitally, contained only a passing reference to Fuller with a depiction of his hallmark.

Fortunately, the wealth of online genealogical sources more than compensates for the lack of biographical information about Crispin Fuller in print. Searching Find My Past, we find Crispin’s birth and baptism on 4 December and 27 December 1755 at St. John the Evangelist Church, Westminster, London, the son of Richard and Sarah Fuller.
Crispin_Fuller_baptism[1]
From Ancestry, we discover that he married at St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn, on 5 October 1781, Sarah Clarke.
Crispin_Fuller_marriage[1]
He was buried at St. Luke’s Church, Finsbury, on 19 October 1824, aged 69, and at least three children, Richard, Peter, and Esther, were baptized there between 1787 and 1792, with a likely third son, Jeremiah, born in 1798 at an unknown location.
Crispin_Fuller_burial[1]

Where and how was Crispin apprenticed, and how did he become a master silversmith? These questions are less easily answered. Crispin appears as a master goldsmith at Windsor Court, London, in 1803 when he agreed to take James Shallis as an apprentice (“U.K., Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811, Ancestry.com). However, Crispin does not himself appear as an apprentice. English taxpayers show Crispin paying taxes variously at Cripplegate Without, Dowgate, and Farringdon Within, all in London, between 1798 and 1824 (“London, England, Land Tax Records,” 1692-1932,” Ancestry.com). Pigot’s London Directories show him at 3 Windsor-court, Monkwell Street, between 1822 and 1825.

The above is only a fraction of what can be found in English records, doing only a preliminary search on a silversmith with an unusual name. More digging in English archival records would likely yield more clues. These records have value to more than just the genealogist. They enhance our understanding of history and art.