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The Pockley family: the Fulchers of Deptford

And now a little bit about the Fulchers.

The history of Deptford is inextricably bound up with the sea and ships. Henry VIII built his fleet there; Capt. Cook's ships were fitted out there. In 1742 35 acres of land were acquired and the Deptford Victualling Yard - later called, by Queen Victoria, the Royal Victoria Yard - was set up. To feed the Navy cattle were brought over from Ireland and slaughtered there, the meat being salted and stowed in casks to await issue. As a victualler and butcher, William Fulcher would have been in close touch with all the shipping bringing the cattle across. Capt. Bingham, who married his daughter Mary, was possibly one of the skippers engaged in this trade.

There was a William P. Fulcher who was Purser on the Sir William Pulteney, on her voyage to Bombay and Bengal in 1805. In 1827 a W. Fulcher was Master of the George, of 449 tons, trading to Madras, Bombay and Bengal, and in the following year he commanded the 800-ton William Money. In 1831 the Camden, W.B. Fulcher, Master, arrived in Sydney from London with 198 male prisoners. In 1861 a William Fulcher was a merchant in Bombay.

William and Mary Fulcher had 9 or 10 children. Of the 6 surviving daughters, 5 married Sea Captains - see page 126. One daughter, Louisa Flowers, married Capt. Samuel Swain, a descendant of Richard Swayne who left England in 1635 in the Truelove, bound for Massachusetts. He was one of the original settlers on Nantucket Island, and Samuel's great, great grandfather was the first male English child born there. Capt. Samuel Swain was in Sydney as early as 1826, as Master of the Vigilant, and died here in July, 1842, just as his whaler the Bermondsey was returning from a voyage and coming through the Heads. Swain's Book Store in Sydney were descendants of his, Harold Fulcher Swain, pioneer Australian forester.

In 1899 the latter won a cadetship into the Forestry Branch of the Lands Department in Sydney. After some years as a forest officer, mainly on the north coast of New South Wales, he became District Forester at Narrabri. In 1916 he entered the Queensland Forest Service, becoming Director of Forests and later Chairman of the Queensland Forestry Board. In 1935, when employed by Australian Paper Manufacturers, he located the sites for the pulp and paper mills of Tasmania. In 1936 he was appointed Commissioner for Forests in New South Wales. After his retirement in 1948 he was employed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations as Adviser in Re-afforestation to Haille Salassie, Emperor of Ethiopia.

When in London in 1975 I decided to visit Deptford, and after tramping round London for a solid hour, I eventually found the right place to pick up a bus. In due course, along came my No.1 bus, with DEPTFORD on the front. I said to the conductor, "Deptford, please", but he said, "This boos doan't go ter Deptford, Zur". "But it says Deptford on the front." "Ah, yezzur, boot ye'll aveter git orf at Greenwich and git a Noomber 1 boos that does go ter Deptford!"

St. Paul's Anglican Church was large and easy to find, but I was somewhat surprised that the Vicar called himself Father Diamond, that Low Mass was at 8 a.m., Peoples' Mass at 10 a.m., and Confessions were on Saturdays at 10 a.m., and noon. I then went to have a look at Fulcher House, the first of a series of large blocks of flats built in 1952 to commemorate families of distinction in earlier times.