Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Palmer, John (1742-1786)

PALMER, JOHN (1742–1786), unitarian divine, son of John Palmer, wig-maker, was born at Norwich in 1742. He was a protégé of John Taylor, D.D. [q. v.] the Hebraist, who began his education, and, on becoming divinity tutor at Warrington academy, placed Palmer (1756) at school in Congleton, Cheshire, under Edward Harwood, D.D. [q. v.] He entered Warrington academy in 1759; Priestley was, from 1761, one of his tutors. In his last year he was constant supply (14 May 1763 to 15 Aug. 1764) at Allostock, Cheshire. Some eccentricities hindered his acceptance in the ministry. He kept a school at Macclesfield, Cheshire. In 1772 he became minister of King Edward Street Chapel, Macclesfield. There was an orthodox secession from his ministry; he consequently resigned in 1779, and removed to Birmingham without regular charge, being in independent circumstances. At Birmingham he renewed his acquaintance with Priestley, and was a member of a fortnightly clerical club which arranged the matter for the ‘Theological Repository.’ In 1782 Priestley recommended him, without effect, as colleague to Joseph Bretland [q. v.] at Exeter. Palmer died of paralysis at Birmingham on Tuesday, 26 Dec. 1786, and was buried in the Old Meeting graveyard on 2 Jan. 1787; Priestley preached (8 Jan.) his funeral sermon. He married, first, at Macclesfield, Miss Heald; secondly, in 1777, the eldest daughter of Thomas White, dissenting minister at Derby, by whom he left one daughter.

He published: 1. ‘Free Remarks on a Sermon entitled “The Requisition of Subscription not inconsistent with Christian Liberty,”’ &c., 1772, 8vo, anon. 2. ‘A Letter to Dr. Balguy,’ &c., 1773, 8vo (reply to the archidiaconal charge, 1772, by Thomas Balguy [q. v.]). 3. ‘A New System of Shorthand; being an Improvement upon … Byrom,’ &c., 1774, 8vo. 4. ‘An Examination of Thelyphthora,’ &c., 1781, 8vo [see Madan, Martin]. His contributions to the ‘Theological Repository’ (1769–71) are signed ‘G.H.;’ contributions in later volumes (1784–6) are signed ‘Christophilos,’ ‘Symmachus,’ and ‘Erasmus.’ A letter from him is printed in Priestley's ‘Harmony of the Evangelists’ (1780).

[Theological Repository, 1788, pp. 217 sq. (memoir by Priestley); Monthly Repository, 1814, pp. 203 sq.; Rutt's Memoirs of Priestley, 1831, i. 334, 339, 355, 362, 380, 390, 401 sq.; Urwick's Nonconformity in Cheshire, 1864, pp. 235, 415; Beale's Memorials of the Old Meeting, Birmingham, 1882; manuscript records of Allostock congregation.]

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