William Palmer, of Duxbury

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William Palmer, I

Also Known As: "William Sr. Palmer the elder of Duxbury"
Birthdate: (56)
Birthplace: Stepney (now part of London), Middlesex (now Greater London), England
Death: between November 9, 1637 and November 13, 1637 (56)
Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of William Palmer's father and William Palmer's mother
Husband of Frances Palmer and Mary Roberts
Father of Henry Palmer; Bridget Palmer; Sarah Rowley; William Palmer, Jr. and William "the younger" Palmer

Occupation: carpenter and / or nailer
Managed by: Steve
Last Updated:

About William Palmer, of Duxbury

Pilgrim Village Families Sketch: William Palmer (the father)

Robert Charles Anderson

  • Birth: William Palmer was born in England about 1581 (based on the estimated date of his first marriage).
  • Death: He died in Duxbury in November 1637.
  • Ship: Fortune, 1621 [Palmer William (From Stephney, Middlesex, bound for Plymouth. Ref: Banks Mss. 36 pg 113); Palmer William, son]

Life in England: Little is known of his life in England. He apparently married and had children there, two of whom remained.

Life in New England: William and his son,William, Jr., came to Plymouth on the Fortune. His wife came over in the summer of 1623 on the Anne or Little James. He was a freeman of Plymouth in 1633 and later moved to Duxbury. He was a nailer, and his inventory listed tools including a bellows and anvil.

Family: William married (1) Frances _____ by about 1606 in England, and had four children. He married (2) Mary _____ by 1637 and had one son. She married (2) Robert Paddock by October 20, 1646, and (3) Thomas Roberts on March 24, 1650/1, in Plymouth.

Children of William and Frances Palmer (order uncertain):

  1. Henry was born about 1606. He was mentioned in his father’s 1637 will, but there is no further information.
  2. Bridget was born about 1608. She was mentioned in her father’s 1637 will, but there is no further information.
  3. A daughter, name unknown, was born about 1610. She married Henry Rowley by about 1630 and had two children. She died by 1633.
  4. William was born about 1612. He married Elizabeth Hodgkins on March 27, 1634, in Plymouth and had one daughter. He died before August 25, 1636.

Child of William and Mary Palmer:

  1. William was born on June 27, 1638, in Duxbury. He married Susanna _____ about 1662 and had at least three children. He died in Dartmouth in 1675.



Came to America on the ship Fortune in 1621, along with a son William.


NOT the son of Sir John William Palmer and Elizabeth Verney

Sr William PALMER was born in 1585 in Stehpanie, London, England. [SIC: unknown] He died on 9 November 1637 in Duxbury, Plymouth, Mass. [albert hamblin.ged] Sailed on the "Fortune" in Plymouth in 1621. His will is dated Dec 4, 1637 in Duxbury, Plymouth, Mass.

Frances follow two years later. She sailed on "Ann" into Plymouth in 1623.


1ST LT. WILLIAM PALMER (1581-1637) was born in Stepney (now part of London), Middlesex (now Greater London), England, died and was buried in Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. His parents are speculative. From The life and letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer (undated) “We know little of him with certainty. Back in England, his home had been in Nottinghamshire. It would be interesting to know that he was related to Herbert Palmer, of the county of Kent, who was to sit as a member of the Westminster Assembly and to be known as the best catechist in all England. For in Herbert Palmer appeared certain prominent characteristics that have ap-peared, also, in some of the greater offspring of William Palmer I., notably the faculty of uniting breadth of affection with the tenacious maintenance of personal convictions. No such relationship is known, however.” He married his first wife, Frances Blossom, in 1605 presumably in England. He became a member of the Separatist movement, later called Pilgrims, and was on the “Speedwell”, the “Mayflower’s” sister ship that had to turn back. He fi-nally joined them on the second ship, “Fortune”, in 1621 with his 12-year-old son William, Jr. On the passenger list his occupation was “nailer” and his in-ventory consisted of: a bellows, anvil, vice and all the tools necessary for nail making, 1 Bible valued at 12s., 1 book called Practise of Christianity," valued at 1s. 6d. and 1 catechism, valued at 4d. He was appointed to lay out the high-ways of Duxbury.

In the 1623 Plymouth division of land William Palmer received two acres as passenger on the Fortune, and "Franc[e]s wife to Wil[liam] Palmer" received one acre as passenger on the Anne. In the 1627 Plymouth division of cattle, William Palmer, Frances Palmer and William Palmer Junior were the eighth, ninth and tenth persons in the seventh company. From these lists, I gather that their three older children were left in England.

In 1637, he married his second wife, Mary, on March 27 at Plymouth. There is speculation over the nature of this marriage. He was 50 years old and in poor health and she was very young. The rumor was that his son, William, Jr, a married man, had an affair with Elizabeth. Fearing that she was pregnant and wanting to save the family reputation, he married her to protect his son. He died on November 9, 1637, in Duxbury, Massachusetts, at the age of 50. The sources say that he was buried in Fillingham, Lincolnshire, England. Whether it was an actual burial or a memorial is hard to tell.

There was controversy after William’s death. This appeared in records of the community 2 months later: On 2 January 1637/8 Mr. Hopkins was presented for allowing excessive drinking in his house. "Old Palmer" was one of the three men said to have been drunk there, and Widow Palmer and Widow Palmer's man were two of the witnesses, suggesting that the widow may have blamed Hopkins for allowing her husband to drink too much”.

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William Palmer, of Duxbury's Timeline

Stepney (now part of London), Middlesex (now Greater London), England
Age 25
Age 27
England, United Kingdom
June 11, 1609
Age 28
Parham, Somerset, England
February 11, 1610
Age 29
Age 31
November 9, 1637
Age 56
Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
November 13, 1637
Age 56
Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts