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His sense of humour helped him to weather storms

A doctor of divinity, Dr Thomas Fuller lived with royal and roundhead governments. During the tumultuous and tragic English Civil War, he barely managed to support himself and survive. 'All that time I could not live to study, who did only study to live.'

Still, he managed to publish Good Thoughts in Bad Times (and Good Thoughts in Worse Times), and to preach sermons calling for peace and reconciliation.

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Dr Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) Looking at him, we have the feeling we would have liked hearing him talk over a meal. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Charles Lamb called Fuller a 'dear, fine, silly old angel' whose sense of humour kept him from extremes. He was called too accommodating by some, but his stands on principle cost him dear.

He lost his first wife in childbirth, married again and was the happy father of three children.

Among his greatest works were his Church History of England and his History of the Worthies of England, which 'described each county's distinctive features, including commodities and proverbial expressions, and provided short biographies of its noteworthy inhabitants in a succession going back to the Saxons' (Oxford DNB). It was the first English biographical dictionary and gleamed with wit.

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