Walter Palmer, of Stonington

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Walter Palmer, of Stonington

Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: Yetminster, Dorsetshire, England
Death: November 10, 1661 (71)
Stonington, CT, USA
Place of Burial: Stonington, New London, Connecticut, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Walter Palmer of Stonington's father and Walter Palmer of Stonington's mother
Husband of Rebecca Elizabeth Palmer; Ann (Elizabeth) Palmer; Ann Elizabeth Palmer; Elizabeth Ann Palmer (Brewster) and Rebecca Elizabeth Palmer (Short)
Father of Deacon Gershom Palmer; Gov. Nehemiah Palmer; Gershom Palmer; Grace Frances Minor; John Palmer, Sr. and 13 others

Occupation: farmer/dairyman, immigrated June 1629
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Walter Palmer, of Stonington

Curator Note


1. Many researchers have incorrectly recorded Walter of Stonington as a son of Sir John and/or William Palmer and Elizabeth Vernai. Some records even show Sir John and William as one person, William John Palmer.

In reality, William Palmer, I b. 15 Jul 1544 married Elizabeth Vernai and their son William, II, b. 1583 but died April 1585, in his second year, is incorrectly thought to be Walter. It is probable Elizabeth Vernai m arried or had children with both William and John Palmer, sons of Thomas P almer creating the confusion. Her marriage to both is shown as such, b ut not confirmed, is our records.

Walter's ancestry, or more correctly lack thereof, has been confirm ed by Elmer Hall Palmer, Society Genealogist, of the Walter Palmer Socie ty and, from the Parham House "The Family of Palmer" pedigree chart. [Jan uary 1999]


  • William Adams Palmer, Governor of and Senator from Vermont[6]
  • Thomas Witherell Palmer, U.S. Senator from Michigan[6]
  • Nathaniel Brown Palmer, explorer after whom Palmer Land, part of the Antarctic Peninsula, is named[6]
  • Ulysses Simpson Grant, 18th President of the United States[7]


Walter Palmer (1585 - 1661) was an early Separatist Puritan settler in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who helped found Charlestown and Rehoboth, Massachusetts and New London, Connecticut.

It has been suggested that Palmer was born in Yetminster, England, in 1585. He married in England and fathered five children, but it is not known who his first wife was. It is said that on April 5, 1629, he sailed on the Four Sisters from Gravesend, England, to Salem, Massachusetts, arriving that June. The next year, Palmer was indicted on manslaughter charges for allegedly beating a man to death. He was acquitted in November 1630. His close friend, William Chesebrough, stood as one of the witnesses in the trial.[1]

Palmer and Chesebrough took the Oath of a Freeman on May 18, 1631.[1] In 1633, Palmer married a second time, to Rebecca Short. They eventually had seven children together. In 1635 Palmer was elected a selectman of Charlestown and the next year became constable.[1]

On August 24, 1643, Palmer and Chesebrough left Charlestown and started a new settlement called Seacuncke (later renamed Rehoboth). Palmer was among the first selectmen. When the settlement assigned itself to Plymouth Colony, the deputy elected to represent Rehoboth at the Plymouth court refused to serve because he preferred attachment to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Palmer was then appointed in his place.[1]

Palmer and Chesebrough were also dissatisfied with the Plymouth alignment, and sometime prior to 1653 John Winthrop, Jr. persuaded Chesebrough to relocate to southern Connecticut. Chesebrough obtained a 2,300-acre (9 km2) land grant in present-day New London, Connecticut; Palmer and his son-in-law[2] Thomas Miner followed him and purchased land on the east bank of Wequetequoc Cove, across from Chesebrough, in present-day Mystic, Connecticut.[3]

In August 1652, Miner built his father-in-law and himself a house on their land; the next year, both their families joined them, and other settlers soon followed. The group struggled for years for self rule. During that time, Palmer served as constable[4] and again as a selectman. It took until 1661 to build a church meetinghouse due to resistance from the General Court of Connecticut, which preferred the colonists travel across the river to New London. Palmer died two months after the meetinghouse was first used.

The 300-year Stonington Chronology describes Palmer as the

"...patriarch of the early Stonington settlers...(who) had been prominent in the establishment of Boston, Charlestown and Rehoboth, ...a vigorous giant, 6 feet 5 inches tall. When he settled at Southertown (Stonington) he was sixty-eight years old, older than most of the other settlers."[5]

Biography 2

Walter Palmer was an early settler in Charlestown, MA (1629) a merchant from London. He was Sergeant in Pequot War. Constable at Charleston in1633. Deputy to the Plymouth General Court in 1645. 1652 joined settlement at Wequentenock (Stonington) CT.

The first Christian service in all the territory between the Thames River and Narrangansett Bay was held in Walter Palmer's house, which he purchased from Thomas Miner.

References: Walter Palmer and his Descendants. Miner Genealogy, Connecticut Vital Records. Mass Vital Records.

Will dated May 19, 1658.


  • Came to America in 1629 aboard the Four Sisters with the Higginson fleet.
  • Settled in Charlestown.
  • A founder of Rehoboth 1643
  • A founder of Stonington, Connecticut in 1654.
  • Over 6 feet tall, over 200 pounds

Biography 3


Name of first wife is unknown. Second wife is Rebecca Short.

Children by first wife:

  1. Grace, born in England, who was said to be the same age as her husband, Thomas Miner born in 1608
  2. William, born in England, the eldest son
  3. John b in England in 1615
  4. Jonah, born in England m Elizabeth Grissell
  5. Elizabeth, born in England m Thomas Sloan before 1663 He d soon after leaving no children of record She m for her 2d husband William Chapman Oct 26 1677 No children of record

Biography 4

  • Birth 09 Oct 1585 Parham, Somerset, England
  • Arrival 1621 Massachusetts
  • Death 10 Nov 1661 Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Residence
  • 1631 Massachusetts Colony
  • 1634 Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Walter a Separatist Puritan, who in an effort to seek religious freedom left England (sic)--on April 5, 1629,(sic)-- "Walter Palmer sailed on the "Four Sisters of London (sic)" Robert Harman (sic)--as Master from Gravesend, England, arriving in Salem, Massachusetts". [1][2]

Walter embarked at Salem Harbor in 1629 where he stayed a short time then removed to Charlestown abt 1631 and is listed as a Founder. He then relocated to Rehoboth in 1642 and is listed as a Founder then on to Stonington in 1652 where he lived out his life. He is listed as a Founder. [3][4]

“Now in this year 1629, a great company of people (The Higginson Fleet) of good rank, zeal, meansand quality have made a great stock, and with six good ships in the months of April and May, theyset sail from Thames for the Bay of the Massachusetts, otherwise called Charles River. The fleet consisted of, the George Bonaventure of twenty pieces of ordnance; the Talbot nineteen; the Lion’s Whelp eight; the Mayflower fourteen; the Four sisters fourteen and the Pilgrim four, with 350 men women and children, also 115 head of cattle, as horses, mares, cows and oxen, 41 goats, some conies (rabbits), with all provision for household and apparel, 6 pieces of great ordnance for a fort, with muskets, pikes, corselets, drums, colors, and with all provisions necessary for a plantation for the good of man.” [5]

On September 28, 1630 there was recorded a "Jury called to hold an inquest on the body of Austine Bratcher." It found "that the strokes given by Walter Palmer, were occasionally the means of the death of Austin Bratcher, and so to be manslaughter. Mr. Palmer made his psonall appearance this day (October 19, 1630) & stands bound, hee & his sureties, till the nexte court." At a court session of "a court of assistants, holden att Boston, November 9th 1630" numerous matters were taken up and disposed of, including the trial of Walter Palmer and one other item of interest: "it is ordered, that Rich. Diffy, servt. To Sr. Richard Saltonstall, shal be whipped for his misdemeanr toward his maister." "A Jury impannell for the tryall of Walter Palmer, concerning the death of Austin Bratcher: Mr. Edmond Lockwood, Rich: Morris, Willm Rockewell, Willm Balston, Christopher Conant, Willm Cheesebrough, Willm Phelpes, John Page, Willm Gallard, John Balshe, John Hoskins, Laurence Leach, /The jury findes Walter Palmer not quilty of manslaughter, whereof hee stoode indicted, & soe the court acquitts him." The above is the first discovered reference to William Chesebrough, one of Walter's closest friends.

Walter became very prominent in the affairs of Charlestown, holding public office and is listed among the first group of men who took the Oath of Freeman of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Community of Charlestown (sic) on May 18, 1631. The original list included, "Mr. Roger Conant, John Balche, Ralfe Sprage, Simon Hoyte, Rick: Sprage, Walt (Walter) Palmer, Abraham Palmer, Mr Rich: Saltonstall, Rich: Stower, Czekiell Richardson, Wm Cheesebrough. [6] The trial likely held up Walter's ability to become a free man in 1630 (sic).

Walter was a Farmer and Dairyman.

Walter apparently had a wife or wives before coming to the Americas, her/their names are not yet known. Walter's second wife was as follows: Reverend Eliot's records of the Roxbury First Church state: "Rebeckah Short, a maide srvant, she came in the yeare 1632 and was married to Walter Palmer a Godly man of Charlestown Church." Their marriage date1 June 1633 is the same date Walter and Rebecca were admited to the Church of Charlestown. [7]

Walter died 10 Nov 1661 Stonington, New London, Connecticut, USA and is buried in Wequetequock Burial Ground, Stonington, New London, Connecticut, USA.

Arrived in Charleston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts in 1629. His wife Anne (Unknown) died in England in 1627, and he had another wife who is the mother of the 2 boys Gershom and John. Brothers of Elizabeth Palmer (Chapman), William Chapman's 2nd wife.

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Walter Palmer, of Stonington's Timeline

August 18, 1585
Gainsborough, Lincoln, England
August 18, 1585
Gainsborough, Lincoln, England
August 18, 1585
Gainsborough, Lincoln, England
October 9, 1590
Somerset, England, United Kingdom
October 9, 1590
Also Of, London Somerset, England
October 9, 1590
Also Of, London, Somerset, England
October 9, 1590
Also Of,London,Somerset,England
October 9, 1590
Also Of, London, Somerset, England
October 9, 1590
Also Of, London Somerset, England
October 9, 1590