PALMER, Peregrine (1605-84), of Fairfield, Stogursey, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 6 June 1605, 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Palmer (d.1605) of Parham, Suss. and Fairfield by Dorothy, da. of Thomas Malet of Enmore, Som.; half-bro. of Edward Grey. educ. Christ’s, Camb. 1619; G. Inn 1625. m. 20 Apr. 1654, Anne, da. of Nathaniel Stephens† of Eastington, Glos., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. bro. 1652.1
Capt. of horse 1639-41, maj. (royalist) ?1642, lt.-col. by 1646.2
J.p. Som. July 1660-d., commr. for assessment, Som. Aug. 1660-80, Suss. 1677-80, sewers, Som. Dec. 1660, loyal and indigent officers 1662, dep. lt. 1666-d., commr. for recusants 1675.3
Palmer was a distant cousin of Roger Palmer. His grandfather came from a Sussex branch of the family and acquired property in Somerset by marrying an heiress. His father sold most of the Sussex estate, quarrelled with his wife, and on the resumption of diplomatic relations with Spain joined the Earl of Nottingham’s embassy. Once there he turned Papist, but almost immediately died of smallpox. Palmer’s portion as a younger son was only £80 p.a., but even this was withheld from him by his elder brother, a valetudinarian who ‘chose always to live in London’ and took no part in politics. He accordingly became a soldier of fortune, serving as a volunteer under Sir Horace Vere in the Palatinate, and afterwards as an officer in the Swedish army under Gustavus Adolphus. During the Lutzen campaign, however, he was in a debtors’ prison in London. He was commissioned a captain under the Earl of Essex in the Bishops’ wars, but he was involved in the first army plot and dismissed. During the first Civil War he served under his half-brother Edward Grey in the King’s army, fighting as a volunteer at Langport. In 1649, when he was living in Chichester, he compounded for his delinquency on the nominal fine of £3 6s.8d. An account preserved in the family papers of his involvement in the Worcester campaign and subsequent romantic escape is not consonant with the genealogy. He was subjected to the decimation tax under the Protectorate on his Sussex estate valued at £600 p.a., apparently preferring not to risk a fraudulent conveyance to trustees as his wife’s brother-in-law John Fitzjames advised. He was one of the royalist suspects taken into custody in April 1658, but not brought to trial. As a proposed knight of the Royal Oak his total income was estimated at £1,200, and twelve years later it exceeded £2,000.4
In 1669 Palmer was narrowly defeated by Francis Rolle of the country party at a by-election for Bridgwater, seven miles from his home, after the mayor had voted twice. But the result was reversed on petition when it was established that three of Rolle’s voters were disqualified under the Corporations Act. He was an inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being appointed to only ten committees, including the committee of elections and privileges for the next session, and three concerning the cloth trade. The most important was to prepare a bill to prevent the growth of Popery (6 Feb. 1671). There is no evidence that he attended the next four sessions, but he received the government whip from Secretary Coventry in September 1675, and was named to a private bill committee in November. On the working lists he was assigned to his half-brother’s influence, but Shaftesbury first marked him ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677 before altering it to ‘vile’. He was associated with another brother-in-law of his wife, Edward Harley, and his name appeared on no further court lists. His last committee was for a new church in Westminster (4 May 1678).5
Palmer withdrew before the poll in February 1679 and never stood again. His son Thomas represented Minehead as a court supporter in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, and he himself doubtless opposed exclusion, since he remained a Somerset j.p. He died on 9 June 1684, and was buried at Stogursey. His epitaph describes him as ‘an excellent citizen, candid, honest and dutiful, and skilled in the arts of both peace and war’.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Irene Cassidy
- 1. Som. Wills, ii. 85-88; M.I. Stogursey.
- 2. Collinson, Som. i. 255; List of Officers Claiming (1663), 60.
- 3. Q. Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), p. xvi; Som. RO, DD/Pot 162.
- 4. Collinson, i. 254-5; Misc. Gen. et Her. i. 114; Winwood Mems. ii. 95; Court and Times of Charles I ed. Birch, 189, 195; CJ, ii. 135; Som. RO, DDAH60/10; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1976; HMC 6th Rep. 348; Thurloe, iv. 240; Northumberland (Alnwick) mss 551, f. 43; 552, f. 9.
- 5. CJ, ix. 118.
- 6. HMC Portland, iii. 312, 380; Som. RO, Sanford mss, Wm. to Edward Clarke, 29 Jan. 1679; M.I.