Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Palmer, Henry (d.1611)

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PALMER, Sir HENRY (d. 1611), naval commander, was of a family settled for some centuries at Snodland, near Rochester, whence they moved in the fifteenth century to Tottington by Aylesford. He is first mentioned as commanding a squadron of the queen's ships on the coast of Flanders in 1576. From that time he was constantly employed in the queen's service. In 1580 and following years he was a commissioner for the repair and maintenance of Dover harbour. In 1587 he had command of a squadron before Dunkirk, and in 1588, in the Antelope, commanded in the third post under Lord Henry Seymour in the Narrow Seas. When this squadron joined the fleet under the lord admiral before Calais on 27 July, Palmer was sent to Dover to order out vessels suitable to be used for fireships. Before these could be sent, fireships, hastily improvised, drove the enemy from their anchorage, and Palmer, rejoining Seymour, took a brilliant part in the battle off Gravelines on the 29th. When Seymour, with the squadron of the Narrow Seas, was ordered back from the pursuit of the Spaniards, Palmer returned with him, and continued with him and afterwards with the fleet till the end of the season. He remained in command of the winter guard on the coast of Flanders.

Through the next year he continued to command in the Narrow Seas, and in September convoyed the army across to Normandy. He was employed in similar service throughout the war, his squadron sometimes cruising as far as the coast of Cornwall, or even to Ireland, but remaining for the most part in the Narrow Seas, and in 1596 blockading Calais. On 20 Dec. 1598 he was appointed comptroller of the navy, in place of William Borough [q. v.], and in 1600 had command of the defences of the Thames. In 1601 he again commanded on the coast of Holland. After the peace he continued in the office of comptroller till his death. He died on 20 Nov. 1611 at Howlets in Bekesborne, an estate which he had bought. He was twice married: first to Jane, daughter of Edward Isaac, and widow of Nicholas Sidley; secondly, to Dorothy, daughter of — Scott, and widow of Thomas Hernden. By his first wife he had two sons, of whom the younger, Henry, succeeded his father as comptroller of the navy by a grant in reversion of 17 Aug. 1611. Howlets was left to Palmer's stepson, Isaac Sidley, who made it over to his half-brother Henry.

A portrait of Palmer, by Mark Gheeraerts the younger [q. v.], belonged to David Laing.

[Hasted's Hist. of Kent, ii. 191, iii. 715; Calendars of State Papers, Dom.; Defeat of the Spanish Armada (Navy Records Soc.)]

J. K. L.