Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Palmer, John (1650-1700?)

PALMER, JOHN (1650–1700?), colonial lawyer and public official, came from Barbados to New York a little before 1675, and in that year was appointed ranger of Staten Island, then constituted a separate jurisdiction. By a usage not uncommon at that time, he held office in several colonies. In 1682 he was appointed a member of the council of East New Jersey, and in 1684 of that of New York. Earlier in 1684 he had been raised to the bench as judge of the court of oyer and terminer at New York. Two years later he was sent by Dongan, the governor of New York, to act virtually as deputy-governor at Pemaquid, an outlying dependency to the north. There Palmer seems to have incurred odium by his arbitrary conduct in the matter of land titles. In 1687 he was sent by Dongan as a special commissioner to Connecticut, to advocate the union of that colony with New York. In the same year he was sent to England to report for the king on colonial affairs. When James II attempted to consolidate the northern colonies under the government of Andros, Palmer returned as a councillor to the new province, and was imprisoned by the Boston insurgents in 1689. While in prison he wrote a justification of the policy of Andros and his supporters, and circulated it in manuscript in New England. After the proclamation of William III at Boston, Palmer, together with Andros, was sent back to England. He there published his pamphlet under the title ‘An Impartial Account of the State of New England, or the late Government there vindicated’ (1689). It is a laboured production, and contrasts unfavourably with the vigorous writing of Increase Mather on the opposite side. It was republished in the next year at Boston with alterations, and both versions are reprinted in the ‘Andros Tracts.’

[Brodhead's Hist. of New York, vol. ii.; The Andros Tracts (Prince Soc.); Palfrey's Hist. of New England, vol. iii.]

J. A. D.