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Rev. John Palmer BCL (1749-1829)

Vicar of St Georges Church Fordington (1799-1829)

and Curate of Bremhill, Wiltshire (1776-1798)

© Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester from PROB 11/1757 January 2014



Memorial Plaque in St Georges Church

Rev. John PALMER (1749-1829)
Ancestry & Education

From his university record (1) we know that he was the son of John PALMER a Gentleman of Bristol City. Tracing his family with any degree of accuracy however has been difficult as John Palmer is a common name and records for the Bristol area have still (Jan 2014) to be properly transcribed. From the above Plaque in St Georges Church Fordington however we know that he had a spinster sister Elizabeth that pre-deceased him. Her burial record confirms that she also came from Bristol. From his wife's will (transcribed below) we also know that he had a younger brother Thomas living in Bristol and two other sisters, Mary PALMER who married Tobias BAYLIS at Christ Church in Bristol on 20th Aug 1791(2) and Sarah PALMER who married a Bookseller Thomas SMART in Bristol in 15th December 1793.(3) The only Will that I have discovered which might relate to his father was for a John PALMER of Bristol, a Bookseller by trade, whose Will was dated 3rd Oct 1765 and proved at London on 8th Jan 1766. This Will left 3 tenements in Wine St, Bristol and the rest of his estate to his wife Elizabeth in trust for his children (unnamed) who all appear to have been quite young. This looks quite promising as his daughter Sarah married a bookseller (which given his early death might well have been her fathers business). If this is correct the Rev John Palmer was only about 16 when his father died and it would appear that he went to university not long after his fathers death.

His University record (1) however only shows that he matriculated at St Alban Hall in Oxford on 14th March 1780 when his age was given as being 30. This is later than most graduates but in line with his age at death making him born about 1749/50. The University record also states that he was awarded a Bachelor of Canon Law (BCL) degree in 1795, again quite late in his career and this concurs with his entry on the wall plaque in St Georges Church Fordington where he has been recorded as having this degree. Whilst there are quite a few graduates of Oxford and Cambridge called John Palmer not many were born around 1750 and no others that I could trace with a BCL Degree so I am fairly confident that we have the right man.

Curate of St Martins Church, Bremhill in Wiltshire (1777-1799)

We know from his memorial plaque in St George's Church that he faithfully served as curate of Bremhill in Wiltshire for 22 years before his appointment as Vicar of St Georges Church in Fordington . This is reinforced in his Will (transcribed below) where he describes himself as being 'late of Bremhill in the County of Wiltshire but now of Fordington'. Very little exists about him in official church records, they simply confirm that he was curate at Bremhill on 21st July 1789 and appointed vicar of Fordington on 13th March 1799. If he served at Bremhill for 22 years as curate his appointment must have been around 1777, some 3 years before he matriculated at St Alban Hall.

In fact I think his ordination as a priest and attendance at University was much earlier as there is an entry for a John Palmer being ordained in the Chapel Palace in Wells on 24th Sep 1768 when he would have been aged 19. This record refers to him being at Wadham College Oxford and under qualifications it has 'SLC'. This simply means that he was a Student of Civil Law at the University and this is a course of study he could well have taken before studying for his BCL. His university career therefore probably started around the time of his ordination and most graduates would also have obtained a BA and even an MA degree before studying Canon Law which might account for the longevity of his academic career.

Another reason might stem from the fact that the vicar of Bremhill the Rev Matthew Frampton died in 1782 when John was 33 years old and he seems to have been passed over in favour of a new vicar the Rev Nathaniel Hume who remained in office there until his own death in 1804. Whilst John was undoubtably much loved within the parish the appointment of a replacement vicar probably brought it home to him that he needed to impress his Bishop if he was ever going to be put forward for advancement, and I think this made him plough on with his academic study into Canon law.

Marriage to Elizabeth LEGG (1758-1829)

John Palmer married by licence on 13th Oct 1797, at the age of 48 whilst he was still a curate at Bremhill. He married at Market Lavington in Wiltshire to Elizabeth the daughter of Richard LEGGa Gentleman of Market Lavington by his wife Jane. Elizabeth had 4 siblings that I know of Jane LEGG (1748-1816), Mary LEGG (1750-1830), Rev Joseph LEGG (1754-1833) and John LEGG the naturalist (1755-1802). I have not been able to trace any children from John and Elizabeth's marriage and I think this may have been because Elizabeth was already 39 years old when she married.

Vicar of St Georges Church in Fordington (1799-1829)

We know from Hutchin's History of Dorset that John Palmer's appointment as Vicar of Fordington on 13th March 1799 occurred as a result of the death of the previous incumbent Rev. Edward MARSHALL. John Palmer faithfully served the parish for 30 years until his death aged 80 on 5th May 1829. He was buried in St Georges churchyard on the 11th leaving his widow Elizabeth well provided for.

Nothing else is known about Elizabeth's married life until the announcement in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle on the 23rd Nov 1829 regarding her death. It states that Elizabeth the relict of the Rev. John PALMER late vicar of Fordington near Dorchester died at Market Lavington, in Wiltshire on Friday 20th Nov 1829. This actually appears to be the date she was buried. I have located and transcribed her will below which was proved at London on 25 February 1830 and shows that she had a brother the Rev Joseph LEGG (1754-1833) who was curate of Maddington in Wiltshire, and a spinster sister Mary LEGG. Elizabeth's Will also leaves her executors £100 for the erection of 'a handsome monument to herself her brother John and sisters Jane and Mary. The National Burial Index confirms that Elizabeth Palmer was buried at Market Lavington on 20th Nov 1829. Her sister Mary Legg in fact wrote her Will on 1st June 1804 naming Elizabeth and her sister Jane as joint executors but Jane died and was buried at Market Lavington on 20th Nov 1816 and Mary joined her on 7th Jan 1831 her will being proved at London on 21st Feb 1831. Finally her brother John LEGG (1755-1802) was a naturalist and was buried at Market Lavington on 10th April 1802.

     
©Pictures kindly taken by the curator of Market Lavington Museum Rog Frost in January 2014


The first picture above shows the memorial wall plaque that was erected in St Mary's Church in Market Lavington Wiltshire as a result of Elizabeths bequest in her Will. It is badly worn at the top and I have provided an enlargement of the central text in the picture far right. The part that can be read states:-
    " ----MARY sisters of the above John LEGG / JANE died November 29th? 1816, Aged 68 years / MARY died December 29th 1830, Aged 80? years / Also to the Memory of ELIZABETH PALMER. / sister of the above / and Widow of the late JOHN PALMER, Clerk / Vicar of Fordington, Dorset/ who died November 13th 1829, Aged 71 years. / by whose direction as a testimony of respect/ to her beloved relatives / this Monument is erected/ OUR REDEEMER LIVETH"
The central picture is of the flagstone grave of her brother John LEGG the naturalist who died in 1802. Interred with him is his three sisters Jane and Mary LEGG (both spinsters) and Rev. John Palmers wife Elizabeth. It rests inside the church in the floor near the entrance and is walked over by all the people who arrive at the church. It states :-
    In Memory of / JOHN LEGG Son of / RICHARD and JANE LEGG / late Resident in this Town / who departed this life / the 3rd of April 1802. / Also JANE Sister / of the above JOHN LEGG / who departed this life / the 11th? of November 1816? / Also to the Memory of / ELIZABETH PALMER / Daughter of the late / RICHARD and JANE LEGG / ----November 15th 1829

Will Rev. John Palmer BCL (1740-1829)
Dated 15 May 1812: Proved 2nd June 1829


This is the Last Will and Testament of me John PALMER late of Bremhill in the County of Wiltshire but now of Fordington in the County of Dorset Clerk

I give devise and bequeath to my dear wife Elizabeth PALMER four hundred pounds stock in the consolidated three per cent annuities which stock was purchased the 14th day of August in the year 1798 and stands in my name

I give devise and bequeath unto my dear wife Elizabeth PALMER three hundred and thirty three pounds six shillings and eight pence stock in the consolidated three per cent annuities which stock was purchased the 6th day of July in the year 1803 and stands in my name

I give devise and bequeath unto my dear wife Elizabeth PALMER six hundred pounds stock in the consolidated three per cent annuities which stock was purchased the 2nd day of November in the year 1811 and stands in my name

And as to all the rest residue and remainder of my estate and effects of what nature or kind so ever and wheresoever the same may be both real and personal after payment of my debts and funeral expenses and subject thereto I give devise and bequeath the same unto my dear wife Elizabeth PALMER

And I give devise and bequeath my aforesaid estate and effects unto my dear wife Elizabeth PALMER for her sole use benefit advantage and disposal for ever and I do hereby nominate and appoint mt dear wife Elizabeth PALMER Executrix of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time heretofore made

In Witness whereof I the said John PALMER have to this my last Will and Testament set my hand and seal this 15th day of May in the year of our Lord 1812

John PALMER

Signed sealed published and declared by the said Testator John Palmer
as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us
who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each
other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses

Robert William Andrews
Susnna Harvey
James Brooks


PROVED:

at London 2nd June 1829 before the Judge by the Oath of Elizabeth PALMER Widow the Relict the sole Executrix to whom administration was granted having been first sworn by Commissioner duly to administer


Will Elizabeth Palmer (d.1830)
Dated 23rd June 1829: Proved 25th Feb 1830


This is the Last Will and Testament of me Elizabeth PALMER of Fordington in the County of Dorset Widow made and published the twenty third day of June in the year 1829

I give and bequeath all and singular my money and securities for money stock in the public funds household goods and furniture and all other my personal estate and effects of every description of every sort and kind whatsoever /after and subject to the payment of my just debts funeral expense sand other expenses and the charges of proving this my Will/ unto Thomas FOWLE of Market Lavington in the County of Wiltshire Yeoman and Robert Williams ANDREWS of Dorchester in the County of Dorset Gentleman their executors administrators and assigns But nevertheless to for and upon the trusts intents and purposes following[that is to say upon trust by and out of the Interest Dividends and annual produce thereof to pay unto Thomas PALMER of Bristol the brother of my late dear husband/ for the term of his natural life

    And unto Sarah SMART the wife of Thomas SMART of Bristol aforesaid Bookseller / sister of my said late dear husband/ for the term of her natural life
    And unto Mary BAYLIS of Aylburton in Gloucestershire Widow/ the other sister of my late dear husband for the term of her natural life an Annuity or yearly sum of twenty pounds each by equal half yearly payments making the first such payment to each of them at the end of six calendar months next after my decease
    And I direct that the said Annuity or yearly sum to the said Sarah SMART shall be for her sole and separate use and not in any way subject to the debts or control of her said husband and that her receipts alone notwithstanding her covertures? shall alone be good discharges to my said trustees for the same
    And subject only to the said Annuities upon trust to pay the whole of the interest dividends and annual produce of my said estate and effects unto my dear sister Mary LEGG of Market Lavington aforesaid spinster and her assigns or permit her and them to receive the same during the term of her natural life

And upon the death of my said dear sister I give and bequeath the following legacies that is to say

    Fifty pounds sterling to each of the four children of the said Sarah SMART
    Fifty pounds sterling to each of the two sons of the said Mary BAYLIS
    One hundred pounds to Mr Richard Sadler SMITH of Bremhill in the County of Wiltshire Yeoman
    One hundred pounds to sterling to Miss Ann SMITH his sister of Calne in the County of Wiltshire
    One hundred pounds to my dear brother the Reverend Joseph LEGG of Maddington Wiltshire Clerk (4)
    Three hundred pounds to sterling to my niece Bridget FOWLE the wife of the said Thomas FOWLE and,
    The like sum of three hundred pounds sterling to her sister Elizabeth LEGG of Market Lavington aforesaid spinster
    One hundred pounds sterling to Georgiana the daughter of my late Nephew Nathaniel LEGG deceased by Emma his wife.
    Three hundred pounds sterling to Richard Henry LEGG son of the said Joseph LEGG, and
    To each of my executors hereinafter named the sum of fifty pounds sterling, and
    To Robert Rideout HARVEY of Fordington in the County of Dorset Gentleman fifty pounds sterling, and also
    I give to my said executors the sum of one hundred pounds sterling for the purpose of erecting a handsome monument in the Parish Church of Market Lavington aforesaid to the Memories of myself, my brother John LEGG and my two sisters Jane LEGG and Mary LEGG which I direct them to do and if the whole of the said sum of one hundred pounds shall not be required for that purpose I direct my said executors or the survivor of them to distribute and divide what shall remain according to their or his discretion amongst the aged and infirm poor of Market lavington aforesaid

All the Rest residue and remainder of my said personal estate and effects I give and bequeath unto and equally between the said Bridget FOWLE and Elizabeth LEGG spinster, and

I hereby appoint the said Thomas FOWLE and Robert William ANDREWS joint executors in trust of this my last Will hereby revoking all other Wills by me made

And I do hereby direct and declare that if all or either of them the said Thomas PALMER, Sarah SMART and Mary BAYLIS shall happen to survive my said sister Mary LEGG then that my said trustees and executors shall retain a sufficient part of my said estate and effects to yield the aforesaid Annuity or Annuities to the survivors or survivor of them until their or his death or respective deaths and that in such case a sum for that purpose shall be deducted pro-rata from each of the legacies hereby given which shall not be paid to the said legatees respectively until the said Annuities respectively shall cease and I also direct and declare that neither of my said Executors and Trustees shall be answerable for the other of them or for the acts receipts deeds or defaults of the other of them nor for involuntary losses nor for money received under receipts in which they shall join only for conformity and that they and each of them shall and may reimburse themselves and each other out of the said trust monies or out of any monies which may come to their respective hands by virtue of this my will All costs and expenses to be incurred by them respectively in the execution of the trusts and duties of this my Will or any wise in relation thereunto

In Witness Whereof I the said Elizabeth PALMER have to the my last Will and Testament set my hand and seal the day and year first above written.

Elizabeth PALMER

Signed sealed published and declared by the above named testator Elizabeth PALMER
as and for her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request and in her
presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as Witnesses

J STONE of Dorchester Attorney at Law
James BROOKS


PROVED:
At London 25th February 1830 before the Judge by the oaths of Thomas FOWLE and Robert William ANDREWS the executors to who administration was granted having been first sworn by Commission duly to administer


Genealogical Notes:-

(1) Oxford University Alumni Volume III 1715-1886 Palmer, John s. John, of Bristol (city), gent. St Alban Hall, matric. 14 March 1780. aged 30; B.C.L. from Wadham Coll 1795.

(2) Church of Latter Day Saints (CLDS) International Genealogical Index (IGI) GS Film 1595525 Tobias BAYLIS married Mary PALMER at Christchurch Bristol 20th aug 1791 batch I03217-3. they had 4 children that I know of all born and baptised in Bristol (2.1) Willliam Baylis born 27th May 1792 bap 20 Aug 1795(2.2 James Palmer Baylis born 28th Nov 1793 bap 20 Aug 1795 (2.3) Edward Highnam Baylis born 31 Jan 1800 bap 6th Jan 1802 (2.4) Henry baylis born 24th Nov 1801 bap 6th Jan 1802.

(3) CLDS/IGI GS Film 1565938 Thomas SMART married Sarah PALMER on 15th Dec 1793 at Bristol

(4) The Rev Joseph LEGG (1754-1833) His University record show that he was the son of Richard LEGG of Market Lavington, Wilts, gent., QUEENS matric. 8 Mar. 1775 aged 21; V of Maddington, Wilts. over 50 years and R of Holton 47 years; died at Maddington 8 Feb. 1833. Church Records confirm that he was ordained a deacon at the Bishops Palace Sarum 8th Sep 1777 and a priest in London in Sep 1781 before being appointed curate of Maddington and also St Mary's Orcheston in July 1783. His will dated 23 Sep 1824 is viewable on ancestry.com and was proved 12 March 1833. He left his estate to his son Richard Henry Legg and his wife Jane of Swallow St London, Emma the widow of his late son Nathaniel Legg, and Emma the widow of his late son John Francis Legg.

Sources: (PL) Listed as a Vicar 1799: OXA; (Hutchins) states 'John Palmer, inst. March 13, 1799, on the death of Marshall' :CCEd : PR's: Signed Baptism Registers 1800 + 1806 + 1809 + 1812: CLDS/IGI ; Memorial Tablet in church; Probate National Archives PROB 11/1757: Newspaper entries. Jackson's Oxford Journal (Oxford, England), Saturday, May 16, 1829; Issue 3968; Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle etc (Portsmouth, England), Monday, November 23, 1829; Issue 1572; Rog Frost Curator of Market Lavington Museum

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