Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/77

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Palmer
Palmer
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partnership with Sir William Hutt, Nicholas Wood, and John Bowes in the manufacture of coke. The firm subsequently acquired collieries in the north. At that time the northern coalfield was practically shut out from the London markets, owing to the difficulties of conveying the coal by rail. Palmer solved the problem by building boats wherein to bring coal by sea to London, and thus laid the foundation of the extensive colliery services which now ply between northern ports and the metropolis. In 1851 he and his brother George established a shipyard near the pit village of Jarrow. The first iron vessel launched from this yard was a paddle tug, the Northumberland, and this was followed (in 1852) by the John Bowes, which was the first iron screw collier to be built, and had a coal capacity of 690 tons. The experiment was a complete success.

With the growth of the shipyard, the village of Jarrow, which at the outset contained only some thousand inhabitants, grew into a town with a population of nearly 40,000. To their original objects the firm added the construction of battleships. During the Crimean war the admiralty accepted Palmer's tender for the construction of a floating battery for the destruction of the forts at Kronstadt, and the Terror, an armoured battery, was constructed and launched within three months. He further revolutionised the industry by substituting rolled armour plate for forged armour plate, and at Jarrow the first armour plate mill was laid down for the manufacture of what were known as 'Palmer's rolled plates.' He was also one of the first to recognise the value of the Cleveland ironstone, which was smelted at the blast furnaces at Jarrow from 1860. Deeply interested in science, he was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute, and at the first annual meeting in London, 1870, he read a paper on 'Iron as a Material for Shipbuilding.'

He introduced the co-operative principle for the benefit of his workmen, and zealously promoted the welfare of Jarrow. In 1875, when the town received its charter, he became its first mayor.

In 1868 Palmer unsuccessfully contested the representation in Parliament of South Shields in the liberal interest. In 1874 he and Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell [q.v. Suppl. II] were returned for North Durham after a severe contest, although they were subsequently unseated on a petition. Palmer was placed at the head of the poll at a new election in June 1874, Sir George Elliot, the conservative candidate, being returned with him, and Bell, the second liberal candidate, being defeated. A threatened petition against Palmer's return was withdrawn. Mien Jarrow was created a contituency, in 1885, he became its member till death. No conservative candidate ventured to oppose him, and although labour candidates contested the seat in 1885. 1892, and 1906, they were severely defeated. He was a deputy lieutenant for Durham and for the North Riding of Yorkshire. In 1886 he was created a baronet, while from the King of Italy he received the commandership of the order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus. He founded in Jarrow the Mechanics' Institute and the Palmer Memorial Hospital. He was honorary colonel of the Newcastle-on-Tyne and Durham engineer volunteers.

Palmer acquired Easington aad Hinderwell Manors and Grinkle Park and Seaton Hall estates, to which he devoted much attention. He died on 4 June 1907 at his residence, 37 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London, and was buried at Easington church, Yorkshire, the parish church on the estate. He was married three times: (1) on 29 July 1846 to Jane (d. 1865), daughter of Ebenezer Robson of Newcastle, by whom he had four sons, of whom the second, George Robson (1849-1910), became second baronet, and Alfred Molyneux (b. 1853), third baronet; (2) on 4 July 1867 to Augusta Mary (d. 1875), daughter of Alfred Lambert of Paris, by whom he had two sons; and (3) on 17 Feb. 1877 to Gertrude, daughter of James Montgomery of Cranford, Middlesex, by whom he had one son, Godfrey Mark (b. 1878), liberal M.P. for Jarrow since 1910, and a daughter.

A bronze statue by Albert Toft, subscribed for by friends and employees, is in the grounds of the memorial hospital at Jarrow. A marble bust, also by Toft, is in the Newcastle-on-Tyne Commercial Exchange. A cartoon portrait by 'Ape' appeared in 'Vanity Fair ' in 1884.

[Pioneers of the Iron Trade, by J. S. Jeans, 1875; Journal Iron and Steel Institute, vol. lxxiii.; Men and Women of the Time, 1899; The Times, 5 June 1907.]

L. P. S.


PALMER, Sir ELWIN MITFORD (1852–1906), finance officer in India and Egypt, born in London on 3 March 1852, was second son of Edward Palmer by his wife Caroline, daughter of Colonel Gunthorpe. Educated at Lancing College, he entered the financial department of the government of India in 1870, and being attached to the comptroller-general's office on 10 Nov. 1871, became assistant comptroller-general. Leaving India, Palmer on