Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Palmer, John (d.1607)
PALMER, JOHN (d. 1607), dean of Peterborough, a native of Kent, matriculated as a pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, on 25 Oct. 1567, and became scholar on 9 Nov. 1568. He graduated B.A. in 1571, was admitted fellow of his college on 12 March 1572–3, and proceeded M.A. in 1575. In 1578, when Queen Elizabeth visited Audley End, Palmer was one of the opponents in a philosophy disputation held before her by members of the university (26 July). In 1579–80 Palmer took the part of Richard when Thomas Legge's play of ‘Richardus Tertius’ was performed before the queen in the hall of St. John's College, and he acquitted himself with great credit. Fuller, however, tells us that he ‘had his head so possest with a princelike humour that ever after he did, what then he acted, in his prodigal expences.’ Through the influence of Lord Burghley he was enabled to turn from the study of the civil law to divinity. On 12 July 1580 he was incorporated in the degree of M.A. at Oxford. He was made junior dean of his college (St. John's) on 21 Jan. 1584–5, principal lecturer on 10 July 1585, senior fellow on 3 Feb. 1586–7, senior bursar on 9 Feb. 1586–7, one of the proctors of the university in 1587, and senior dean on 24 Sept. 1589. About the same time he was recommended by Lord Burghley for the post of public orator, but was not elected. In 1587 and 1588 he took part in the proceedings for the expulsion of Everard Digby [q. v.] from his fellowship at St. John's College, and thus incurred the disapproval of Whitgift, who considered that he and the master, Whitaker, ‘had dealt … contrary to their own statutes; … contrary to the rule of charity; he might say of honesty also.’ Palmer wrote to Lord Burghley, dated 5 Nov. 1590, begging for ‘good favour and protection’ during some misunderstandings at St. John's College (Lansdowne MS. 63 ). He was elected to the mastership of Magdalene College, and created D.D. in 1595. On 30 Nov. 1597 he was granted the deanery of Peterborough (admitted 3 Dec.), on 3 March 1597–8 obtained the advowson of Stanton in Derbyshire, and on 18 Nov. 1605 the prebend of Dernford in Lichfield Cathedral (admitted 26 Nov.)
Palmer was a noted spendthrift. It is said that he sold the lead off the roof of Peterborough Cathedral to help him out of his pecuniary difficulties. He resigned the mastership of Magdalene College in 1604, and died in prison, where he was confined for debt, about June 1607.
Some Latin verses, ‘Martis et Mercurii Contentio,’ in ‘Academiæ Cantabrigiensis lacrimæ in obitum … Philippi Sidneii,’ London, 1587 (pp. 20–1), by John Palmer, may have been by the dean of Peterborough, or they may have been by
John Palmer (d. 1614), archdeacon of Ely, who was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge, from Westminster in 1575, matriculated as a pensioner on 26 May 1576, and became fellow in 1582. He graduated B.A. in 1579, M.A. in 1583, and B.D. in 1592. In two beautifully written Latin letters to Burghley (1581 and 1582), Palmer begged for his interest in procuring him a fellowship at Trinity College (Lansdowne MSS. 33, No. 38, f. 74 and 36, No. 48, f. 113). He was presented to the vicarage of Normanton in Yorkshire in 1591, and to that of Trumpington in Cambridge in 1592. On 5 June 1592 the queen, whose chaplain he was, presented him to a prebend (first stall) and the archdeaconry of Ely. With it he held the rectory of Wilburton and vicarage of Haddenham, both in Cambridgeshire (Addit. MS. 5819, f. 86). He was presented to the livings of South Somercotes, Lincolnshire, on 14 March 1596–7, and Alwalton, Huntingdonshire, on 13 Feb. 1601–2. He resigned his archdeaconry in 1600, and died in 1614. Previous to March 1593 Palmer had contracted a clandestine marriage in Sir Thomas Howard's chapel in Chesterford Park, Essex, with Katherine, ‘daughter of William Knevit, late of Little Vastern Park, co Wilts. Gent. decd.’ (Bp. Lond. Marriage Licenses, Harl. Soc. xxv. 206).[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 457–8; Foster's Alumni Oxon. (1500–1714); Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, ii. 114; Baker's Hist. of St. John's College, Cambridge (Mayor), pp. 177–8; Reg. Univ. Oxford, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 351; Fuller's Worthies (Nichols), ii. 156; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), i. 352, 354, 597, ii. 539, iii. 620, 695; Strype's Whitgift, i. 517; Heywood and Wright's Cambridge Univ. Transactions, i. 511; Strype's Annals, vol. iii. pt. ii. pp. 606–7; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1595–7, pp. 351, 540; Laud's Works, vol. vi. p. 352; Addit. MS. 5846, ff. 237, 255; Ely Episcopal Records (Gibbons), pp. 438, 487; Bentham's Ely, p. 278; Vicar-General's Books at Somerset House, vi. f. 130; Lansdowne MSS. 45, 56 f. 121, 23 May 1585; Cambridge University Registers, per the Registrary.]