Sir Robert Palmer, Sr.

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Sir Robert Palmer, Sr.

Birthdate: (70)
Birthplace: Parham, Sussex, England
Death: May 12, 1544 (70)
Angmering, Sussex, England
Place of Burial: Parham, Sussex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir John Albert Palmer, Jr. and Lady Isabell Palmer
Husband of Blanche Forman / Reynolds and Lady Beatrix Palmer
Father of Sir Thomas Palmer, Sr.; Richard Elliott Palmer; Francis Palmer; John Palmer; Robert Palmer, Jr. and 1 other
Brother of Sir Thomas Palmer, Knight; Sir Edward Palmer; Anne Bellingham; Elizabeth Browne; Richard Palmer and 2 others
Half brother of Joan Tucker

Occupation: mercer
Managed by: Steve
Last Updated:

About Sir Robert Palmer, Sr.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, Henry VIII granted the manor of Parham, which had belonged to the Abbey of Westminster, to a London mercer called Robert Palmer. Parham’s foundation stone was laid in 1577 by Robert’s two-year-old grandson, Thomas; it was considered lucky to have this duty performed by the youngest member of the household. His mother Elizabeth was god-daughter to Queen Elizabeth I, and there is a legend that the Queen visited Parham.

Thomas Palmer sold the house in 1601 to Sir Thomas Bysshopp, who came from Henfield. For 320 years Bysshopp descendants lived at Parham. In 1826 Sir Cecil, 8th Baronet, became the 12th Lord Zouche, and in 1922 the 17th Baroness Zouche sold the Parham estate to the Hon. Clive and Alicia Pearson. Clive was the second son of Weetman Dickinson Pearson, the 1st Viscount Cowdray.


Robert PALMER (Mercer of London)

Born: ABT 1480 / 1490, Angmering, Sussex, England

Died: 13 May 1544, Parham, Sussex, England

Notes: granted Parham by Henry VIII 1540, however, Parham as such, was not built until after 1577 by his son Thomas. Because of this, no children are shown herein born in Parham until after 1477. Only the Palmer Pedigree records his marriage to the widow Blanche Reynolds and all his children from her. The Palmer Pedigree disagrees with many other records for Robert's children but the Palmer Pedigree is more credible. Because the Palmer Pedigree records his son Thomas born ca 1520, and because some other records show a Thomas born 1518-19, we believe the historically important Thomas (he began construction of Parham) is the son of widow Reynolds and leaves all children recorded herein from her. Also, the birth dates for the wives of Robert's sons provide credence to later birth dates for his children. Robert's first wife, Bridget or Beatrix, may have had children born between 1498 and 1510 with some or all the same names recorded herein.

Father: John PALMER (Sir Knight)

Mother: Isabella BILTON

Married 1: Bridget (Beatrix) WESSE (dau. of John Wesse and Elizabeth Oliver)


1. Elizabeth PALMER

Married 2: Blanche REYNOLDS


2. Thomas PALMER (Sir Knight)

3. Francis PALMER

4. Robert PALMER

5. John PALMER

6. Richard PALMER


In the 16th century the old order of Norman gentry was beginning to give way before the wealth of a new mercantile class. Robert came of an old Sussex family, acquiring his personal wealth as a citizen and mercer of London. In order to obtain social and political status, ownership of land, and in particular manorial lordship was necessary. His purchase of Preston in February 1525/6, for £500 established him and his successors as knights and gentry for the next two hundred years. [5]

Robert came onto the scene opportunely, for shortly afterwards the Reformation and Dissolution of the Monasteries provided him with a windfall. In 1540 Henry VIII sold to Robert the erstwhile manors of Tewkesbury Abbey in Sussex, Kingston and Wick, together with the lands of Westminster Abbey, including Parham, for £1255 6s 5d. These lands were subsequently held by the family, as tenants-in-chief, for an annual rent to the Exchequer of £6 12s 4d.

At this same time, the related Palmer family of Angmering, purchased the Sion manors of Ecclesden and West Angmering. Later in the 16th century, they built the mansion New Place, and constructed the decoy ponds on lands unkindly appropriated from their villagers of West Angmering.

The purchase of Kingston was also deemed to include the advowson of the parish - the right to appoint the parish priest. And a chapel of unknown antiquity stood in the village for another hundred years until it was, in the phrase repeatedly used, "eaten up by the sea".

When Robert died in 1545, he left a widow and son Thomas aged 24, to enjoy the lordships so recently acquired. Their principal house was still presumably in London, for his IPM (Inquisition Post Mortem) described him as a "citizen and mercer of London". He must surely have stayed in the East Preston on occasion, especially when it was his only manor, but here again this is speculation.

Despite the Reformation, the family remained devout but covert Catholics into the following century. When they settled at Parham in Sussex, they had the company of many other influential gentry of like persuasion. The 13th Earl of Arundel died in the Tower because of the old faith.

Sir THOMAS PALMER 1520 - 1582

Thomas, son of Robert, began rebuilding Parham in 1577, towards the end of his life. This splendid Elizabethan mansion stands to this day in its park, a monument to the Palmers. At the heart of the house is the Great Hall, with its original carved oak screen below the Steward's Room.

Religious conflict between Sir Thomas and the Bishop of Chichester is fully explored in a history of the period. [6] but fortunately the Elizabethan Settlement took a moderating course. In 1564 Bishop Barlow described Sir Thomas as a "fainte furtherer" of the Protestant religion. Then in 1569 it was found that he had harboured a deprived Marian priest, a Catholic, as his chaplain, and refused to take the communion other than in his own chapel. A Chancery writ of 1571 attempted to force his son, William, to take the sacrament; and the churchwardens of Parham had the audacity, or duty, to present Thomas and over twenty parishioners, for communicating infrequently.

However, the family had the patronage of the Queen and their fortune took a new course. A daughter married her own cousin, Sir Thomas Palmer of Angmering, and the association of the two branches of the family continued through the following generations. But of more significance was the wardship granted by the Queen to Sir Thomas, of Elizabeth Vernai, heir to an estate in Somerset. Not surprisingly she was soon married to William, who thereby effectively acquired this new inheritance.

The Vernai family had lived at Fairfield in Somerset, but William Palmer demolished the old house there, and built a new mansion very similar to Parham. Sir Thomas died in 1582, leaving his "sowle unto the holye and blessed Trinitye" and William his worldly heir.

WILLIAM PALMER 1554 - 1586

William died only four years after his father, undoubtedly "sick of bodye" as his will proclaims. He left the house at Fairfield unfinished, but also a young son Thomas, who might well have lived there later but for the effects on his fortunes of the old faith.

In his will, William left £5 to the poor, but stressed it was not to "praye for my soule" which would have been too blatantly Catholic. He also wished Queen Elizabeth, "victory over all her enemies" the year of the Armada being at hand.

Young Thomas could not inherit the estates until he came of age, and in the customary way all the manors went automatically into the Crowns hands until that day. In 1587 one third of the estate was leased back to the family at its nominal value, however it may have been undervalued, as was the case in similar circumstances in 1605. Certainly the widow, Elizabeth, must have expected some profit, if only in the form of fines and heriots paid when tenancies changed hands.

The lease listed all of the manors owned, giving a total valuation of £160 7s 6d. East Preston at £20 15s was undoubtedly correct, for that remained its total rent roll for many years; but it may be wondered if the three manors of Kingston, Wick, and Parham, could have been worth only a total of £28 16s. The Old Marsh at Wick was separately valued at £60 10s.

Sir THOMAS PALMER 1574 - 1605

Their religion did not prevent the family from being patriots and monarchists. Thomas, undoubtedly influenced by the great sea captains of his time, and the destruction of the Armada, applied himself service at sea serving under Hawkins and Drake.

During an expedition to Peurto Rico, to capture bullion ships, both Hawkins and Drake died of dysentery. Thomas survived to take command of a ship the following year, in the defeat of a Spanish fleet and capture of Cadiz. After this exploit Thomas was knighted.

Perhaps because of his roving nature, he had leased Parham to Thomas Byshopp in 1598, and finally sold the manor to him for £4500 in 1601. The uncertain situation in England towards the end of Elizabeth's reign and accession of James, gave him the resolve to emigrate. In 1605 he departed for the continent and then to Spain, with the Earl of Nottingham, intent on providing a home in Valladolid for his family. No sooner did he arrive than he contracted smallpox and died.

His wife had taken temporary lodgings in London with her sons William and Peregrine and, having lost Parham, the future family house therefore had to be Fairfield.

WILLIAM PALMER c1593 - 1665 Only twelve years old at his fathers death, the problem of wardship once more faced the family. The Somerset and Sussex estates were sold back to them for £435 a sum equal to the annual income from the Sussex manors.

William later lived at the house at Black-Friars, London, rather than in Somerset, choosing a life of study during those years of revolution when others were losing their heads. He died unmarried but the estate in Sussex had already passed to his younger brother Pergerine, probably at his marriage in 1659.

PEREGRINE PALMER c1605 - 1684 Peregrine married Anne Stevens of Gloster in 1659. It is evident that Protestant theology had impressed itself on him early in life, the influence of his father being absent. During the Palatinate wars he served as a volunteer, no doubt against the old enemy Spain, for he later became an officer in the Swedish army. Returning to England, as a monarchist he supported Charles I against Scotland, and later against the Roundheads. In the service of the Earl of Essex he obtained a captain's commission; then when civil war impended, he rallied to the king at Nottingham.

Rising to the rank of colonel-of-horse he served at several of the principal battles, from Edgehill, to Marston Moor, and Naseby. There is no evidence that he, or the family, suffered after the defeat of the royalists, although he was imprisoned for a time. The war on the whole was remarkably civilised.

Peregrine died at Fairfield in 1684, assuredly of great age for the time. His will provided bequests for the poor of his manors, including £10 each to Kingston and Preston. Both his will and his marriage settlement of 1659 mention his Sussex cousins, holding leases there from him. Thomas Palmer of Harting and son are particularly referred to. All the estates passed to his son Nathaniel.

It was Pergerine who had drawn-up that invaluable written survey, or terrier, of the Sussex estates in 1671. This provides detailed descriptions of the lands occupied by tenants, both copyhold, leasehold, and various of the freeholds.



Ecclesden Manor -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------ 'Angmering Place Names' affirms that the name 'Ecclesden' is of Old English origin, signifying Eccel's Hill, the Hill being Highdown and Eccel a personal name. An alternative but more conjectural derivation connects Ecclesden with the Latin 'ecclesia' (church) suggesting a link between the Saxon settlement on Highdown and an earlier Romano-British Church in the vicinity, thus identifying Ecclesden as 'The Hill with the British Church'.

Albeit, Ecclesden has a long and fascinating history which continues to the present day. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, Ecclesden was granted to Roger de Montgomery, created Earl of Arundel in recognition of his services as a Divisional Commander of the victorious Norman Army at the Battle of Hastings. At that time the lands of the Manor embraced a wide area extending as far as the sea.

Subsequently the Manor passed into the possession of the Abbey of Fescamp and then, in the 15th century to the Abbey of Syon. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the estate was granted by Henry VIII to John Palmer, member of an ancient and noble Sussex family and apparently a favourite at Court. Early in the 17th century his son, Sir Thomas Palmer of New Place, Angmering sold the Manor to John Forster who demolished parts of the old house in 1634 and erected what is basically the present building.

In 1811 the Manor was bequeathed by Martha Forman to James Grant in what are discreetly described in Skeet's 'History of Angmering' as "romantic circumstances". James Grant married Mary Dench, adopted daughter of Martha Forman, and they had fourteen children. It is interesting to note here that the Grant family tree has its branches in the village community today.

James Grant's eldest son, George, sold the estate to David Lyon, a wealthy tea merchant from whom it passed to a relative, Sir Arthur Lyon Freemantle who made further alterations and additions to the house in 1872.

In 1918 the estate was purchased by Walter Butcher who did much to restore the property to its former glory as a 17th century Manor House. In 1921 Walter Butcher was listed as one of the principal land-owners in Angmering and the village still remembers Mr. & Mrs. Butcher as benefactors to the local community. An inscription over the entrance to the Village Hall reads "Built by Walter Butcher 1926" and one of the public benches on the Village Green is inscribed "Margaret Butcher, For Remembrance, 1950".

Mr Butcher was an ardent admirer of the distinguished Army Commander Marshal Foch, Generalissimo of the Allied Armies during the 1914/18 War, Walter Butcher died in 1951 and he bequeathed Ecclesden Manor to the Foch family (Foch died in 1919). When the relatives were eventually traced in France and informed of their inheritance they were 'bewildered' as they had no previous knowledge of Mr. Butcher or Ecclesden.

During their twelve years of ownership the Foch family came to Ecclesden primarily as a 'retreat' during the summer months until Madame Becourt-Foch disposed of the estate by auction in 1965. It is a remarkable coincidence that Ecclesden should have been granted in the 11th century to a Norman Army Commander in recognition of victory in battle against our country and again, nine hundred years later, to a French Army Commander in similar circumstances, but in alliance with us. Ecclesden continues its "strange, eventful history".

(The above text is reproduced with the kind permission of Mr Leslie Baker from his 1988 booklet "Old Angmering", now out of print)

Father: Robert PALMER b: 1480 in Parham, Sussex, England Mother: Bridget WEST b: 1494 in Parham, Somerset, England

Marriage 1 Griselda Bridget CARRELL b: in Warnham, Sussex, England •Married: ABT 1540 1 Children 1. Mary PALMER b: 1545 in Somerset, England 2. Elizabeth PALMER b: BEF 1548 in Somerset, England 3. Dorothy PALMER b: 1548 in Somerset, England

Marriage 2 Catherine STRADLING b: 1512 in St. Donats, Glamorganshire, Wales •Married: ABT 1540 in St. Donats, Glamorgan, Wales 1 Children 1. John PALMER I b: 14 JUL 1544 in Parham, Somerset, England c: 1550 in Parham, Somerset, England 2. William Palmer I SIR b: 14 JUL 1544 in Parham, Somerset, England 3. Thomas PALMER , II, Thomas of Parham Sir b: ABT 1548 in Parham, Sussex, England

Sources: 1.Title: Herb Younger (Merge) Repository: Media: Other Text: Date of Import: Dec 15, 2003

Granted a Parham by Henry VIII (Parham House was built in 1577 by Thomas)

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, Henry VIII granted the manor of Parham, which had belonged to the Abbey of Westminster, to a London mercer called Robert Palmer. Parham’s foundation stone was laid in 1577 by Robert’s two-year-old grandson, Thomas; it was considered lucky to have this duty performed by the youngest member of the household. His mother Elizabeth was god-daughter to Queen Elizabeth I, and there is a legend that the Queen visited Parham.

Thomas Palmer sold the house in 1601 to Sir Thomas Bysshopp, who came from Henfield. For 320 years Bysshopp descendants lived at Parham. In 1826 Sir Cecil, 8th Baronet, became the 12th Lord Zouche, and in 1922 the 17th Baroness Zouche sold the Parham estate to the Hon. Clive and Alicia Pearson. Clive was the second son of Weetman Dickinson Pearson, the 1st Viscount Cowdray.

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Sir Robert Palmer, Sr.'s Timeline

Parham, Sussex, England
Age 6
Angmering, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Age 6
Angmering, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Age 32
Parham, Sussex, England
Age 34
Parham, Sussex, England
Age 38
Of, Parham, Sussex, England
Age 48
Parham, Sussex, England
Age 52
Parham, Sussex, England