PALMER, Sir Henry (by 1496-1559), of London and Wingham, Kent.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1496, 2nd s. of Edward Palmer of Angmering, Suss. by Alice, da. and h. of John Clement of Ightham Mote, nr. Sevenoaks, Kent; bro. of John. m. by 1536, Jane, da. of Sir Richard Windebank of Guisnes, 3s. inc. Thomas. Kntd. 30 Sept. 1544.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Guisnes 1537-46, forester 1540-d., treasurer by 1543; master of the ordnance, Boulogne Sept. 1545, member of council Sept. 1545; commr. to hear and determine causes, criminal and civil, Guisnes 1546.2


‘A gentleman born, though a younger son’, as one of his contemporaries described him, Henry Palmer was to spend the greater part of his life in royal service overseas. He is first mentioned in the Calais accounts in 1528 as a spear in receipt of 18d. a day: the sole earlier reference found to him dates from 1527, when he was granted for life the reversion of the manor of Pollicott, Buckinghamshire, then held by Thomas Palmer, doubtless an older kinsman. His uncle and younger brother both served at Calais, while his elder brother occupied the estate in Sussex.3

Palmer was patronized by Cromwell, whom he supplied with information on troop movements. After unsuccessfully approaching Cromwell in 1535 for the office of bailiff of Guisnes, Palmer was holding it by 1537 although not receiving his patent until 1540. He was a regular visitor to England as messenger or escort. In 1538 he travelled through the Netherlands with Thomas Wriothesley, who praised both his care and his fluency in French. With the outbreak of war Palmer was responsible for the strengthening of Guisnes and for collecting intelligence preparatory to the invasion of France. He took part in the capture of Boulogne and escorted the French commander back to the town after its surrender. In the skirmishing which followed, Palmer’s house was destroyed and his sheep seized, but he had the consolation of being knighted by the King and in the following year of being made master of the ordnance and a member of the council at Boulogne. During his time there, however, he became increasingly critical of military shortcomings and when in the summer of 1549 he withdrew from an outlying fortress which he thought untenable he was relieved of his command. The cession of Boulogne in the following year closed this chapter in his career.4

From 1551 Palmer began to acquire land in east Kent, first buying the house of Swingfield priory from Sir Anthony Aucher and then adding the reversion of St. Bartholomew’s hospital outside Dover and Wingham college near Canterbury: it was as a parishioner of Wingham that he figured in a Star Chamber case under Mary against the perpetrators of a fraudulent scheme to raise money for the repair of the church. He was drawn into the orbit of the Duke of Northumberland by his brother Sir Thomas Palmer, and the relationship cost him arrest in July 1553 after the failure of the attempt to exclude Mary. It does not appear that he was implicated and in the following October he received a general pardon. His return to the Queen’s second Parliament appears something of an excursus. As the holder of ex-monastic property he may have been exercised about its future; it is also possible that he hoped to do something in Parliament towards salvaging his dead brother’s estate, for it was this Parliament which restored in blood the Marquess of Northampton, with whom Sir Thomas Palmer had been attainted. His seat for Bramber is suggestive of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s patronage but his kinsman by marriage John Caryll, who was steward of the barony of Bramber, is likely to have been instrumental in the election.5

Palmer served again in the war of 1557 and was wounded. Captured soon afterwards, he was ransomed with the help of Alderman Thomas Lodge of London, whom the Queen thanked for saving ‘a gentleman whose service hath heretofor and may be hereafter very acceptable unto us’. He died on 15 Jan. 1559, apparently intestate. His property passed to his 17 year-old son Thomas.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Aged 60 ‘and above’ in June 1556, CSP For. 1553-8, p. 230. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 24; W. Berry, Co. Genealogies, Suss. (Comber’s annotated copy at W. Suss. RO), 206; LP Hen. VIII, xi, xix; DNB (Palmer, Sir Thomas).
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xv, xxi; APC, i. 146, 241, 245.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iv, xvii; VCH Bucks. iv. 5.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, ix-xiii, xvii-xix, xxi, add.; APC, i. 146, 241, 245, 348, 507; iii. 207, 216, 377; CSP For. 1547-53, p. 354; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, i. 303; CPR, 1550-3, p. 143.
  • 5. CPR, 1550-3, pp. 80, 320; 1553, p. 81; 1553-4, p. 444; SP10/19, ff. 46, 58v; St.Ch.4/5/11; APC, iv. 303.
  • 6. CSP For. 1553-8, pp. 325-6, 348; SP11/13, f. 110; C142/123/93.