Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Palmer, James (d.1657)

PALMER, Sir JAMES (d. 1657), chancellor of the order of the Garter, was third son of Sir Thomas Palmer (1540–1626) [q. v.] of Wingham, Kent, by Margaret, daughter of John Pooley of Badley, Suffolk. Palmer obtained a place in the household of James I, and on 27 April 1622 was appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber, with an annual salary of 200l., afterwards raised to 500l. He appears early in life to have become one of the personal friends of Charles when Prince of Wales, and to have continued so after his accession to the throne. As an amateur artist of some merit Palmer shared the king's tastes, and assisted him with advice and in other ways in the formation of the celebrated royal collection of pictures. He is known to have copied several pictures in the royal collection, probably on a small scale, as one of Titian's ‘Tarquin and Lucretia’ is noted among the king's collection of limnings as done by James Palmer after Titian, and given by him to the king. Palmer was one of the governors of the royal tapestry works at Mortlake, and in the catalogue of Charles I's collection is mentioned ‘a little piece of Bacchus his feast, of many young children and angels, which the king delivered with his own hands to Sir James Palmer, for him to use for a pattern for the making of hangings, the which he has sent to Mortlack amongst the tapistry works.’ Five pictures in the same collection are noted as ‘placed in the Tennis Court Chamber at Sir James Palmer's lodgings.’

When Sir Thomas Roe [q. v.] chancellor of the order of the Garter, was absent on a diplomatic mission, Palmer was appointed his deputy in February 1638, and in that capacity on 22 May moved the king to revive the ancient usage for the ladies of knights to wear some of the decorations of the order. He served three times as Roe's deputy, and on 2 March 1645 succeeded him as chancellor. The civil wars and the ensuing Commonwealth must, however, have prevented him from receiving any of the emoluments of the office, and he died in 1657 before the restoration of the monarchy. Palmer's collection of pictures, which included many from Charles I's collection, was sold by auction on 20 April 1689. Palmer was twice married: first to Martha, daughter and heiress of Sir William Gerard of Dorney, Buckinghamshire; she died in 1617, and was buried at Enfield in Middlesex, where a monument by Nicholas Stone was erected to her memory. By her he was father of Sir Philip Palmer of Dorney Court, and a daughter Vere, married to Thomas Jenyns of Hayes in Middlesex. Palmer married, secondly, Catherine, daughter of William Herbert, lord Powis, and widow of Sir Robert Vaughan, by whom he was father of Roger Palmer (afterwards Earl of Castlemaine) [q. v.] whose marriage with the celebrated Barbara Villiers [q. v.] he did his best to prevent.

[Walpole's Anecd. of Painting (ed. Wornum); Ashmole's Order of the Garter; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. Ser., 1622, 1638, &c.]

L. C.