PALMER, Andrew (c.1544-99), of Cheapside and St. Peter-le-Poor, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1544, ?s. of Simon Palmer, goldsmith of London. m. (1), at least 4ch.; (2) 1581, Elizabeth Bannister, 4ch.

Offices Held

Auditor, London 1579-81; dep. comptroller of the mint by c.1576, comptroller from 1582; chamberlain of London c.1582; sec. of mineral and battery works 1568-85.1


After being apprenticed in 1558 to Richard Trappes, Palmer practised as a goldsmith in Cheapside, later becoming a mint official. When the corporation of London elected him chamberlain, Burghley asked them, 1 Jan. 1583, to choose someone else, as Palmer ‘should give all his time to the mint’. His fee was at first £66 13s.4d. per annum, reduced by 1594 as an economy measure. As comptroller he checked that the coins issued tallied with the bullion received, and, with the warden of the mint, presented occasional reports to the Council, meeting in the Star Chamber.2

On 15 Feb. 1589 Palmer spoke on the purveyors bill and was appointed to the committee on the same day. He was named to a committee concerning glass factories on 21 Mar., and reported the committee on the measuring of casks on 22 Mar. In 1593 he was appointed to a committee concerning the punishment of rogues (12 Mar.), and reported (23 Mar.) that the committee dealing with the retailers bill could not reach an agreement, although D’Ewes points out that he was never appointed to that committee. The London Members were also appointed to committees concerning maimed soldiers (2 Apr.), brewers (3 Apr.) and town planning permission (6 Apr.).

Palmer was often consulted by the government on currency matters. In 1575, for example, in a letter to Francis Walsingham, he recommended that the proposed loan from Germany should be received only in dollars (thalers), and later he urged Walsingham and Burghley to set up a committee of inquiry into the standard weights for gold. He investigated the export of gold currency from the realm, and interrogated Thomas Parry, a fellow goldsmith, who was accused of receiving stolen plate. He suggested a new issue of farthings made of copper rather than silver, and was one of those commissioned to examine ‘the account of trying of the ore, and for all other things belonging to the late voyage of Martin Frobisher’, recently returned from Muscovy. The Council also employed him to investigate disputes between London merchants, considering him a person ‘of good understanding in matters of merchandise’.3

Palmer invested some of his money in land and property, and also in industrial enterprises. In 1563 he acquired a house called the White Hart in Holy Trinity parish, London, though he did not live there, and he was probably the Andrew Palmer who, with John Herbert, received small land grants from the Crown in 1575. These were as far apart as Stoke Bliss, Worcestershire, Burnham in Buckinghamshire, and Royston, Hertfordshire. He acquired part of the manor of Southam, Gloucestershire, but on this occasion appears to have been acting for Sir Francis Walsingham.4

The most important industrial concern with which he became associated was the mineral and battery works, whose mining and manufacturing operations in several parts of the country attracted many leading political figures as investors. At its formation in 1568 Palmer, a shareholder, became the first secretary and held that office until 1585, when his apprentices took over. In 1587 Palmer, together with his son-in-law John Brode, Richard Martin and Humphrey Michell, took out a licence at £50 per annum, and each of the partners invested about £800 in the Isleworth Copper and Brass Works. Shortly after William Laborer became a partner, difficulties arose and Palmer tried to withdraw his investment, was unable to do so, and alleged inefficiency and dishonesty in his partners, particularly Brode. The legal dispute lasted into the following reign.5

Palmer was a witness to the will of John Field, the puritan. His own will was made and proved in August 1599. He made provision for his family, except for his children by his first wife, who had already received their share of his goods. One of them, Richard, had qualified as a doctor. His son Andrew, whose wife Elizabeth was named as executrix, was assay master of the mint to the first two Stuart kings. The two overseers were each given a book from his library.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. PCC 67 Kidd; A. B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, i. 289; Analytical Index to the Remembrancia of the City of London, 278; M. P. Donald, Elizabethan Monopolies, 36, 58; information on the mint from Dr. C. E. Challis.
  • 2. A. Heal, London Goldsmiths, 215; Vis. London, (Harl. Soc. xvii), 140, 141; W. Chaffers, Gilda Aurifabrorum, 230-1; Donald, 58; Remembrancia, 278; J. Craig, The Mint, 124; Lansd. 37, f. 137; 47, ff. 170, 172, 174; E101/304/14.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 432, 433, 450, 451, 499, 508, 513, 514, 519; City of London Recs. R 22, ff. 36, 216; APC, x. 148; xi. 86, 89, 392-3; xii. 116, 238; xiii. 20-1; xv. 211-12; xviii. 384-5; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 506, 605, 617; 1581-90, p. 86; Lansd. 31, f. 168; 37, ff. 125, 139.
  • 4. VCH Worcs. iv. 353; VCH Bucks. iii. 182; VCH Herts. iii. 257; CPR, 1560-3, p. 585; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. l. 303.
  • 5. CPR, 1566-9, p. 274; Donald, 36, 58, 61, 71-2, 76, 97-8, 106-7, 158-60, 181-4; Lansd. 76, ff. 72 seq.; VCH Mdx. ii. 128-9.
  • 6. PCC 38 Rutland, 67 Kidd, 47 Clarke.