When John "Mad Jack" Fuller was first elected MP for Sussex it was to the newly created United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed by the Act of Union - the merger of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland made effective 1 January 1801. There was no general election that year. The 1801-1802 Parliament was composed of members of the former Parliaments of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland.
An opening was created in Sussex when Thomas Pelham, 2nd Earl of Chichester (1756–1826), was elevated to the peerage as Lord Pelham.
George Shiffner 1st Bart of Coombe Place, Hamsey (1762 - 1842), married Jack Fuller’s second cousin Mary Bridger and was later MP for Lewes. Shiffner is credited with giving Fuller a start in the Sussex constituency by inviting him to stand. With his wealth backing him, Fuller easily won his seat.
Jack Fuller was returned as MP for Sussex in the next two elections which ran : 5 July to 28 August 1802, and 29 October to 17 December 1806.
In the 1807 general election the candidate in the west of Sussex faced no opposition. Charles William Wyndham (1760 – 1828), brother of the Earl of Egremont, had been in parliament since 1790 when “he was returned both for Tavistock and Midhurst. He made his election for the latter borough: but during the same Parliament, in 1792, accepted the Chiltern Hundreds, and was re-elected for Shoreham. For that borough he was returned at the two next General Elections of 1796 and 1801; and in 1807, on the accession of the late Charles Lennox, [(1764 - 1819) to the peerage as 4th Duke of Richmond and Lennox], he succeeded him in the representation of the County of Sussex. He was re-chosen for the county in 1807, but retired in 1812, and had not since been a member of the Legislature.”
Source: Obituary, The Gentleman's Magazine 1828 p 175
The remaining Sussex seat, in the east of the county, was hotly contested. John “Mad Jack” Fuller, the Tory candidate, was opposed by Colonel Warden Sergison of Cuckfield, the Whig candidate. Fuller, who had inherited sugar plantations in Jamaica, had become a vocal critic of the abolition movement. This did not increase his popularity and Sergison sought to use public sentiment to his advantage and brand Fuller as a slave owner. “WANTED, For immediate service in the West Indies, about one thousand NEGRO DRIVERS, though none need apply but men who are muscular—who can lacerate the back of a Black to the bone at every infliction of the lash, and who have the courage to continue the stripes though his object should be writing in the agonies of death. All fines for murder in the LEGAL course of practice, will be paid by their employer. Enquire at Rose-mary Hill, or Bloody Mount. “ Source: Shiffner MS 304, East Sussex Record Office.
Although there was strong anti-slavery opinion in Sussex, there was fervent anti-Catholic sentiment as well. In retaliation to Sergison’s smears, Fuller who opposed Catholic Bill called Sergison a papist. “He [Sergison] was seconded by Mr. Hare Naylor, who avowed, on the Hustings, his Approbation of the Measures of the late Administration, to unite as he called it, THE ENERGIES OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS WITH THE PROTESTANTS. And he is supported by a Noble Duke who was a Papist. Then what have you to expect from Mr SERGISON?” Source: Shiffner MS 304, East Sussex Record Office.
Candidates paid the expenses of the voters to travel to the poll including lodging, meals and drink. It is estimated that the campaign cost each candidate between ten and twelve thousand pounds. Some estimates for Fuller’s expenditures are as high as thirty thousand.
"Between Tuesday 12 May and Thursday 28 May 5019 freeholders cast 4333 votes for the Westerner Charles Wyndham, 2530 for John Fuller of Brightling, and 2473 for Colonel Sergison of Cuckfield. The Easterners clashed over Emancipation for Roman Catholics and West Indian slaves. The High-Tory Folly-building Fuller opposed both. The moment the polling ended, the Mobility tore apart the hustings by the Sessions House and carried the fragments away, claiming "immemorial" custom. It greeted the result - Sergison being the "popular" candidate, by tossing rotten eggs into the balconied Great Room at the White Hart, Fuller's campaign headquarters. Sergison then spoke from a window of the Star, assuring his partisans that a Sheriff's scrutiny of the poll would overturn Fuller's trivial majority. So they dragged the Colonel and his carriage in triumph up the High Street, to rendezvous at the barracks with Whig confederates marching in from Brighton. Though the Sheriff refused a scrutiny, Fuller's victory had proved expensive. As well as the No Popery favours, he paid for almost 2000 dinners at the White Hart, and as many at the Dorset Arms, "an East Country House" popular with freeholders from Hastings Rape." Georgian Lewes1714 - 1830: Heyday of a County Town, by Colin Brent, p 73.
“The closeness of this result and accusations against the sheriff who was reputed to have supported Fuller led to Sergison petitioning Parliament. Fuller appears to have been reluctant to defend his seat but his successful defence was undertaken by some Sussex Freeholders.” Local History Unit Working party Kit “The Sussex Election of 1807”.
In 1809 when the Duke of York/Mrs Clark Scandal was exposed Fuller, in no uncertain terms, made his dissatisfaction known. Hard on its heels came the Walcheren Expedition Scandal in 1810 which resulted in Fuller being expelled from the House of Commons and taken into custody by the Serjeant-at-arms.
Fuller retired from politics in 1812 and did not stand in the General Election of that year.