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About Catherine Palmer
Catherine Palmer was the daughter of Sir Edward Palmer (c.1470-1516/17) of Angmering, Sussex, and Alice Clement. She was a Bridgettine nun at Syon at Isleworth in the 1530s. When the monastery was dissolved on November 25, 1539, she received a pension of six pounds. It is unclear where she spent the next twelve years, but in 1551 she led a group of Bridgettines to the Low Countries, where they lived for six years at Termonde in Flanders. Cardinal Reginald Pole visited them there in 1554. On March 1, 1557, twenty-one sisters and three brothers were officially reestablished back in England, at Syon. Catherine Palmer was elected abbess on July 31, 1557. Unfortunately, with the accession of Elizabeth Tudor, they were once more forced into exile. Syon was dissolved by Parliament in May, 1559 and Catherine Palmer and some of her sisters left England in the party of the departing ambassador from Spain, the count of Feria. They returned to Termonde until 1564, then moved first to Zurich Zee; then to Mishagen, near Antwerp (1568-1571); then to Mechelen, where a Calvinist mob sacked the convent on November 8, 1576. Pope Pius IV had issued a papal bull on July 7, 1563 to ask church leaders, particularly the Archbishop of Utrecht, to assist the nuns in exile from Syon Abbey, but after burying Catherine Palmer in Mechelen, the others moved on to France and then to Portugal, finally settling in Lisbon in 1594. They returned to England in two groups, one in 1809 and the other in 1861, and eventually established a permanent community, still extant, in Devon. Biography: Oxford DNB entry under "Palmer, Katherine."