PALMER, Sir Thomas (by 1520-82), of Parham, Suss.

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



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1520, 1st s. of Robert Palmer, citizen and merchant of London and Parham by his 1st w. Bridget or Beatrice, da. and coh. of John Wesse or West of Millington Yorks., alderman of London. m. (1) Griselda or Bridget, da. of John Caryll, serjeant-at-law of Warnham, 3da.; (2) by 1557, Katherine, da. of Sir Edward Stradling of St. Donats, Glam., 1 or 2s. suc. fa. May 1544. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suss. from 1547, q. by 1562; sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1559-60; commr. piracy, Suss. 1565, dep. lt. 1569.2


Palmer held extensive lands in Sussex and built Parham House, which his family retained until the last years of Elizabeth’s reign, when it was first leased then sold to (Sir) Thomas Bishopp. Among a large number of land transactions in which Palmer took part was the purchase from the Crown, in July 1557, of £300 worth of Sussex property, much of it formerly belonging to Tortington priory. In April 1561 he was one of those to whom Laurence Stoughton apparently enfeoffed the manor of Stoughton near Guildford, though this may have been simply an arrangement under the statute of uses. However, Palmer’s return to Elizabeth’s first Parliament for Guildford was presumably due to his connexion with Henry, Earl of Arundel, high steward of the borough, who knighted him in October 1553, and whose servant he became.3

Palmer held office under Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth, and was described by the bishop of Chichester in 1564 as a ‘faint furtherer’ of religion. The archbishop’s visitation of the diocese during the vacancy of the see in 1569 included him among the gentlemen who ‘at Easter receive communion at home in their chapels, and choose priests from a distance’. With a later bishop, Richard Curteys, he was on bad terms. In December 1573, Curteys brought unspecified charges against Palmer, and the Council appointed a commission to investigate them. The matter dragged on for some years, with Curteys citing Palmer for popery, and Sir Thomas and his friends complaining that the bishop was over-zealous in prosecuting the gentlemen of the shire. At the same time Palmer was involved in the affairs of his son-in-law John Leeds, who had gone abroad for religious reasons. When Leeds’ wife Elizabeth returned to England in 1577, Palmer wrote to the Council that he would refuse to deal with his daughter’s matters unless their lordships approved. The government evidently discounted the charges against Sir Thomas himself: in 1579 he was asked to inquire into the activities of John Apsley’s schoolmaster, Bywater, suspected of being a ‘massing priest’.4

Palmer’s name appeared regularly on Elizabethan commissions, from those dealing with important business such as musters, grain supplies and the suppression of piracy, to inquiries into such matters as ‘lewd words’ spoken by the sexton of Chichester cathedral. The last reference found to his official activities concerns the Sussex musters in May 1580.5

He died on or about 14 Apr. 1582 and was buried at Parham. His will, made in February 1580, left bequests to his children and sons-in-law, and £100 to a granddaughter, Grizeld Roberts. After making arrangements for payments to the Queen out of his lands at Lyminster, he directed that the residue of his goods should be equally divided between his widow, Dame Katherine, and his son and heir William, aged 28 at the inquisition post mortem.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C142/70/46; 197/60; D. G. C. Elwes and C. J. Robinson, Castles, Mansions and Manors of W. Suss. 253; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 24-5; PCC 12 Pynnyng, 18 Tirwhite; Add. 14311, f. 14; LP Hen. VIII, xix(2), p. 413; Mousley thesis, 641.
  • 2. CPR, 1547-8, p. 90; APC, vii. 283; SP12/59/61.
  • 3. C142/70/46; 197/60; Suss. N. and Q. xii. 46; Add. 6174, p. 59; Surr. Feet of Fines (Surr. Rec. Soc. xix), 144, 166; CPR, 1554-5, p. 305; 1555-7, pp. 251, 325; Suss. Arch. Colls. ix. 224; lxxvii. 256; Dallaway, Hist. W. Suss. ii(1), p. 26; PCC 18 Tirwhite.
  • 4. Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 9; R. B. Manning, Religion and Soc. in Eliz. Suss. 82; VCH Suss. ii. 25, 26; Suss. Arch. Colls. xvii. 81; APC, viii. 166; x. 50; xi. 77, 95; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 542 seq.; E. Heron-Allen, Selsey Bill, 165.
  • 5. APC, vii. 19, 126, 283, 309; xii. 8; CPR, 1560-3, p. 443.
  • 6. Dallaway, ii(1), p. 208; PCC 18 Tirwhite; Suss. N. and Q. ii. 62-3; C142/197/60.