William Mortlock Palmer: Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of extensive transcripts, notes and original items relating principally, though not exclusively, to the history of Cambridgeshire and its parishes. Among the primary material are a journal of an Italian tour kept by Peter Cowling in 1786; a diary of M.F. Dayrell of Camps Park, 1866; the journal and sketch book maintained by Peter Cowling of Fenstanton on a round trip from Fenstanton to Oxford in 1810; a day book of John Davey of Hadstock, carter, dung and straw merchant, 1818-1834; and a prescription book of Thomas Frewen, the Sussex apothecary and physician, 1750-1755. The papers are divided into 4 main sections:

A. Main series of notebooks, box files and folders, mostly labelled by Palmer.

B. Supplementary series of files, folders, bundles and other papers, containing notes and other writings, mainly by Palmer, as well as miscellaneous matter.

C. Original documents, such as a diary, plans, journals, a sketch book, a day book, land surveys, a prescription book, an account book and a commonplace book.

D. Various printed items.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Mortlock Palmer (1866-1939), physician and antiquary, was born at Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. He was educated locally and at Royston, before entering into an apprenticeship with a Cambridge chemist. He completed his medical training by the age of 29, and thereafter developed a practice among the parishes surrounding Linton. Palmer began to carry out research at the Cambridge Free Library while studying medicine. After completing his studies he became a prolific writer on the county of Cambridgeshire. He also journeyed to the Indian Ocean, travelling on the P&O Line in the role of ship's surgeon.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Bequeathed by William Mortlock Palmer.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the 1976 reprint of Palmer's Cambridge castle (Cambridge: Oleander Press).

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Related Material

Some correspondence and notes on seventeenth-century Norfolk assize records, purchased by Palmer in 1934, were transferred to the Public Record Office in 1968.