Sir Thomas PALMER

Born: ABT 1499, Angmering, Sussex, England

Died: 1554, London, Middlesex, England

Father: Edward PALMER of Angmering (Sir Knight)

Mother: Alice CLEMENT


Second son of Edward Palmer of Angmering, Suss. by Alice, dau. and h. of John Clement of Ightham Mote, nr. Sevenoaks, Kent; bro. of John and Henry Palmer, and of Catherine Palmer, last Abbess of Syon

His grandfather, John Palmer, of Angmering, Sussex, was a member of a family that had settled in Sussex in the fourteenth century; and of his father's two younger brothers, Robert was the founder of the Palmers of Parham in Sussex, while Sir Thomas served with distinction in the garrison at Calais. He was early attached to the court, and in 1515 he was serving at Tournay. On 28 Apr 1517 he was one of the feodaries of the honour of Richmond. The same year he became bailiff of the lordship of Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire. He was a gentleman-usher to the King in 1519, and at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. On 22 Aug 1519 he was made overseer of petty customs, of the subsidy of tonnage and poundage, and regulator of the custom-house wherries; in 1521 he became surveyor of the lordship of Henley-in-Arden, and he also had an annuity of 20l. a year. He served in the expedition of 1523, and the same year had a grant of the manor of Pollicot, Buckinghamshire. The next year he had a further grant of ground in the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle, London. On 10 Nov 1532 he was knighted at Calais, where he had become captain of Newenham Bridge. He was favourably noticed by Henry VIII, who played dice with him, and in 1533 he became knight-porter of Calais, an office of considerable importance. He was taken prisoner by the French in an expedition from Guisnes, and had to ransom himself. He gave an account of this and other services to Cromwell in a letter of 1534. He acted as commissioner for Calais and its marches in 1535 in the collection of the tenths of spiritualities. Palmer was at the affair of the Bridge of Arde in 1540, and the next year, wanting to secure a special pension, had leave to come over to London to try and secure it. In Jul 1543, when treasurer of Guisnes, he went with the force under Sir John Wallop against the French, and in Aug 1545 Lord Grey sent him on a message to the king. In this year he was captain of the ‘Old Man’ at Boulogne, presumably resigning it to his brother.

When Henry VIII died, Palmer had secured a reputation for unbounded courage. Though he hated Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, he was at first a member of his party, and was told off for service on the border. In 1548 he several times distinguished himself by bringing provisions into Haddington; but, having command of the lances in an expedition from Berwick, his ‘sellfwyll and glorie in that joorney dyd cast awaye the whoalle power, for they were all overthrowen’. He seems none the less to have continued to hold his appointments at Calais. On 11 Jun 1550 he was sent with Sir Richard Lee to view the forts on the Scottish border, and provide for their repair.

Palmer, on 7 Oct 1551, was the first to disclose Somerset's treason, the declaration being made in Warwick's garden (cf. Dixon, Hist. of the Church of England, ii. 393, 397–398). He had evidently hoped to rise with Northumberland; having secured several monastic grants, he was building himself a house in the Strand. On 18 Feb 1551/2 he had a pardon for all treasons, doubtless to clear him from all suspicion as a former follower of Somerset; and on 3 Mar following he was appointed a commissioner for the division of the debatable land on the borders. He was an adherent of Lady Jane Grey, and had been too prominent to escape when Northumberland fell. He was sent to the Tower on 25 Jul 1553, arraigned and condemned on 19 Aug, and brought out for execution on 22 Aug, with the Duke of Northumberland, Sir John Gates, Sir John Cheke, Bishop Ridley, Dr. Sandys, Lord Chief Justice Mantague and the Marquess of Northampton. He had heard mass before execution, and taken the sacrament in one kind; but when he came on the scaffold, covered with the blood of those who had just been beheaded, he made a manly speech, in which he said that he died a protestant.

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