Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

Offices Held


On 5 Nov. 1549 the House ordered Sir William Babthorpe, John Cock II, John Gwillim and (Sir) Nicholas Hare to ‘excuse the appearance of Mr. Palmer, burgess, before the justices of the common pleas, returned in attaint’. The designation ‘burgess’ in the minute for the order in the Journal rules out the identification of this recipient of privilege with the John Palmer who was then a knight of the shire for Sussex, and as neither the returns nor the list of Members revised for the final session includes a namesake of the Sussex knight, the Journal entry furnishes the only evidence for a second Palmer elected to the Parliament of 1547.

As Palmer’s name does not occur on the list of Members for the final session, it follows that he had been replaced as a Member by 1552, but whether withdrawal, ejection or death accounts for this is unknown. Leaving aside the possibilities of withdrawal or ejection, the commonness of his name renders any attempt to establish his identity from among those known to have died between 1549 and 1552 highly speculative. The same reservation attaches to any cases before the court of common pleas, and scrutiny of its plea roll for Michaelmas term 1549 for evidence of an action interrupted by the invocation of privilege has proved fruitless. Of the numerous Palmers then being sued in the court none was a resident of a parliamentary borough and most were of humble status. Only two of the cases relate to gentlemen, and both of these were cases which had extended over several years. The less significant concerned William Palmer of Mucking, Essex, accused of breaking into a nearby close and causing damage estimated at £5. The other involved John Palmer of Upper Lemington, Gloucestershire, who was being sued for a debt of £120 by Thomas Wenman of Witney, Oxfordshire, as executor of the will of his father Richard Wenman (d.1534). Twice ordered to appear during Michaelmas term this John Palmer failed to respond and in November a further date was fixed for his appearance. If he answered the summons it is not recorded in the plea roll for the Hilary term. This case was almost certainly linked with another for the same amount brought by Thomas Onslow of London against Thomas Kynaston of Otley, Shropshire, in the same court, as is made clear by a third suit in which Onslow sued both Kynaston and Palmer for various smaller sums. A sheepowner, described by an adversary as a ‘man of great possessions’, John Palmer was allied to several families of importance in the marches and had been active in local affairs, albeit in a minor capacity, since the 1520s. At least two of his kinsmen, Sir Fulke Greville and George Willoughby, were Members of the Parliament of 1547. As a Gloucestershire man he could have enjoyed the patronage of the Protector Somerset or Admiral Seymour, as a relative of Willoughby that of the Earl of Warwick, and as a lessee of lands at Toddenham held by Secretary Petre that of Petre. With such sponsorship John Palmer could have obtained a seat almost anywhere at the elections in 1547 or at a by-election in the following two years. The main objection to his identification with the Member is that he did not die until 21 July 1353, so that he could not have been removed from the list of Members as having died before the final session. No other reason for his withdrawal can be surmised unless it was that the matter of the privilege backfired on him, but this is unlikely.2

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: Alan Davidson / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; CJ, i. 11.
  • 2. CP40/1138, r. 242v, 1139, rr. 73, 607v, 611, 1140, 1141, r. 72, 1142, rr. 264, 295, 1143; LP Hen. VIII, iii, vi; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. liv. 156; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 119; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xi), 171, 220, 222; VCH Glos. vi. 252; PCC 21 Hogen, 16 Tashe, 74 Noodes; C142/100/45.