Palmer Collection

Archive Collection
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 418 Palmer
  • Former Reference
      GB 418 C.6.4-11
  • Dates of Creation
      19th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English
  • Physical Description
      8 volumes
  • Direct Link

Scope and Content

Volumes compiled by John Palmer containing notes and transcripts of local material, genealogies and pedigrees.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Palmer, architect and antiquary, was born in Bishop Middleham, co Durham, on 28 January 1783, the sixth child of William and Elizabeth Palmer, both Roman Catholics. In 1801 Palmer was bound apprentice to his uncle, a mason at Durham. In 1804 he was employed as a mason at Scone Palace in Perthshire. He left Scone for London in 1806, where he met Gayfere, the master mason of Westminster Abbey. In 1808 Palmer moved to Yarmouth, where he assisted in the building of the Naval Hospital. He married whilst living in Yarmouth. He returned to London in 1811, moving to Manchester in 1813 where he established a practice as an ecclesiastical architect. In 1814 he took charge of the alterations and restorations of the Collegiate Church, now Manchester Cathedral. In 1816 John Francis Butler of Pleasington Hall, a Roman Catholic, chose Palmer to design a church on his estate. He also designed the church of St. Augustine, Granby Row, Manchester, which was opened in October 1820, St Peter's, Blackburn, and rebuilt Blackburn Parish Church, which later became Blackburn Cathedral. He built two further churches before retiring: St John's in Abram, co Lancs, and Holy Trinity in North Ashton, co Lancs.

During his antiquarian and genealogical studies Palmer created a collection of notes and transcripts of local material, and was particularly interested in Northumbrian families associated with the family of Whitfield, to which his wife belonged. He wrote The History of the Siege of Manchester by the King's Forces (1822) and the Guide to the Collegiate Church of Manchester (1829), and also contributed a description of the Collegiate Church to Dr S. Hibbert-Ware's and W.R. Whatton's History of the Foundations in Manchester (1834).

Palmer spent his last years in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Lancashire, where he died on 23 Aug 1846.

See Newton Haile, 'John Palmer: Stonemason Extraordinary', in Durham County Local History Society, Bulletin 34 (May 1985).

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection. Viewing is by prior appointment. Please contact archivist@chethams.org.uk.

Acquisition Information

According to the gift book for 1862 and volume IV of Bibliotheca Chethamensis (1862), 7 volumes of Palmer manuscripts were presented to the Library by Joseph Jordan, MD, who had bought them from Palmer's widow. Palmer died in 1846 and his wife in 1852. Bibliotheca Chethamensis (1862) contains details of 7 quarto volumes, listed as A, B, C, D, E, F & G. F & G are now bound together, but the reference in the printed catalogue seems to indicate that in 1862 F & G were 2 separate volumes. Volume VI of the printed catalogue (1883) has, added in ink, 9 vols, and Gillow in his A Literary and Biographical History, or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics (London, [1885-1902]) refers to volumes lettered A-I.

Related Material

See also A.6.1, John Palmer (1785-1846): The descent of the family of Whitfield, of Whitfield Hall in Northumberland from the Saxon earls of Mercia, and the Norman families of Meschines, D'Estrivers, Egaine, Baslie and Espee. Including coats of arms.

A.6.12: Pedigree of John Francis Butler of Pleasington Hall, co Lancs, c 1824.