PALMER, Geoffrey (1655-1732), of Carlton Curlieu, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1708 - 1713
5 Aug. 1714 - 1722

Family and Education

b. 12 June 1655, 1st s. of Sir Lewis Palmer, 2nd Bt.†, of Carlton Park, Northants. by Jane, da. and coh. of Robert Palmer of Carlton Scroop, Lincs.  educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1672.  m. 2 Feb. 1681 (with £1,500), Elizabeth (d. 1741), da. and coh. of Thomas Grantham of Goltho, Lincs. and Rievaulx Abbey, Yorks., s.psuc. fa. as 3rd Bt. Apr. 1713.1

Offices Held

Gent. privy chamber c.1704–c.1714.


While his long-lived, non-juring father resided at Carlton Park in Northamptonshire, Palmer, as life tenant, occupied the other family seat at nearby Carlton Curlieu Hall over the county border in Leicestershire. In 1698 he was invited by ‘some friends at Leicester’ to stand for the town at the forthcoming election. Seeking the goodwill of the Earl of Rutland (John Manners†, Lord Roos), he professed, ‘I have not been desirous of public employment, nor am I now, but I hope, if I have the trust put in me, I shall discharge it with integrity’. In supporting this application, John Verney, the Leicestershire knight of the shire, judged him an ideal candidate: ‘I see so much need of honest men in Parliament that I could wish the town of Leicester may make choice of so worthy a man as I know him to be.’ Another aristocratic well-wisher, Lord Huntingdon, advised him that if he could ‘treat’ the aldermen, common council and freemen, it would help to dispel the rumours of Palmer’s financial straits which appeared to threaten his chances. In the event Palmer withdrew, but whether indeed because of financial difficulty, or because of the availability of more suitable candidates, is not clear.2

In April 1702 Palmer obtained an Act to confirm certain provisions of his marriage settlement. A strict Toryism is suggested by his selection of the Tory Lord Cheyne (William*) to manage the bill in the Commons, avoiding the two new Whig Leicestershire knights, Lord Roos (John Manners*) and Lord Sherard (Bennet, 3rd Baron*). Palmer’s parliamentary ambitions appear to have lain dormant for almost ten years until November 1707 when he stood for knight of the shire on the death of John Verney. Although beaten on this occasion, he topped the poll soon afterwards in the 1708 election, though he subsequently proved an inactive Member. He naturally followed his party line in voting against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell early in 1710. Returned again later that year, he was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament. At this time Palmer was evidently so beset by financial difficulties that he was compelled to assign parts of the manor of Carlton Curlieu to trustees for a 21-year period towards settling his debts, and in 1711 obtained an Act (supervised for him through the Lower House by Sir George Beaumont, 4th Bt.) to confirm this arrangement. He nominated James Winstanley, Tory Member for Leicester, and Thomas Noble, a future Member, as trustees.3

During the county by-election of February 1711 Palmer naturally joined the campaign for Sir Thomas Cave, 3rd Bt.*, rallying ‘the best freeholders’ in his acquaintance, and suggesting key parishes in east Leicestershire in which to concentrate. He was identified as a ‘Tory patriot’ who voted for the peace in April 1711, and as a ‘worthy patriot’ who in the course of the same session took part in exposing the mismanagements of the previous ministry, though he did not belong to any of the back-bench Tory clubs. It was soon apparent that the provisions of his 1711 estate Act would not fulfil their purposes, and in 1712 James Winstanley initiated a further measure on his behalf to extend its terms. This time all of Carlton Curlieu was made over to trustees for a term of 31 years. The persistence of these financial problems evidently lay behind his decision in 1713 to stand down in favour of Lord Tamworth (Robert Shirley*). It was a decision which he was thought to have regretted, since his father died in April leaving him ‘a great estate’ yielding an additional annual income of £1,700. Groundless speculation arose in August that he might still stand, but since this would almost certainly have disobliged young Lord Tamworth’s grandfather, Earl Ferrers, he kept to his original resolution. In any case, a new electoral opportunity materialized when Tamworth died suddenly of smallpox in July 1714. Palmer was returned at the by-election held a few days after the Queen’s death, and attended the House in its August proceedings. With the necessity of preparing for a new election he incurred some criticism from the likes of Sir George Beaumont and other Tories by leaving his own intentions undeclared for the time being. He was eventually returned in April 1715, following the Whig sheriff’s refusal to countenance the poll taken in February, and represented the county until the 1722 election. He died on 29 Dec. 1732 and was succeeded by his nephew Thomas Palmer to whom he had already conveyed several manors in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire under a private Act of 1724, while under the terms of his will he bequeathed £100 to the hospital at Carlton, Northamptonshire.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Nichols, Leics. ii. 543; Leics. RO, Palmer mss DG4/637, marr. settlement of Geoffrey Palmer 15 Jan. 1681; Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 161–2.
  • 2. Rutland mss at Belvoir Castle, Palmer to Rutland, 28 May, Verney to same, 28 May 1698; Huntington Lib. Hastings mss HA6107 (letterbk.), Huntingdon to Palmer, 1 June 1698.
  • 3. Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 234; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/53, Cave to Ld. Fermanagh (John Verney*) 10 Nov. 1707; Nichols, ii. 540.
  • 4. Leics. RO, Braye mss 23D57/2846, Ld. Denbigh and others to Cave, 6 Feb. 1711; 2858, Palmer to Cave, 10 Feb. 1711; 2878–9, Beaumont to Denbigh, 19, 21 Aug. 1714; 2881, Denbigh to Cave, 28 Aug. 1714; 2884, Palmer to Denbigh, 8 Sept. 1714; 2886, Beaumont to Cave, 16 Sept. 1714; Nichols, ii. 540, 542, 549; Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 1746, Justinian to Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt.*, 20 Jan. 1713; Verney mss 636/55, Cave to Ralph Verney, 23 Apr. 1713; Bodl. Carte 117, f. 441.