PALMER, John I, of Butleigh, Som.
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Family and Education
Palmer is not recorded as a burgess of any of the three boroughs he represented in Parliament. He seems to have usually lived at Butleigh, near Glastonbury, about half way between Bridgwater and Wells, and owned land also at Kilmersdon, about half way between Wells and Bath. As he is known to have held property in ‘Paynestwychyne’ Street in Bath, he was qualified by residence to sit for one of the boroughs, at least. Palmer appears only twice in the Bridgwater records, both times in the financial account of the community for 1394. He visited the town both before and after the Parliament of that year, on each occasion being entertained by the stewards of the guild, but although his fellow Member, John Cole III, a local merchant, was paid 20s. for his services in the Commons, Palmer himself apparently received nothing.1 That he was prepared to represent the borough without a fee may perhaps be ascribed to his profession as a lawyer; he practised in both the local and the central courts and, since he received payments at Westminster from his other clients, he could no doubt afford to offer his services free to the Somerset towns in return for the prestige of a seat in the Lower House.
Early in his career, in 1373, Palmer entered into recognizances with Walter Clopton, the future chief justice, for £40, and over the next 20 years he made several other appearances in the central courts, notably as an attorney in the common pleas. In 1380 he acted as surety at the Exchequer for the keeper of the alien priory of St. James by Exeter; in 1382 he performed a similar service for a member of the pantry of the King’s household granted a lease of lands in Somerset; and in 1385 he presented himself in Chancery to provide securities for the good behaviour of a local man. In the meantime, he himself had been plaintiff in a plea of debt, the defaulter being William Seamer* of Scarborough (a fellow Member of the Commons in the Parliament of 1378), and later on he brought an action for trespass, also on his own account.2