Papers of the Palmes Family of Naburn

Scope and Content

U DDPA relates almost entirely to the Naburn estates and is rich in medieval title deeds. U DDPA2 includes some nineteenth-century rentals, correspondence, wills and genealogical papers.

U DDPA in detail is as follows: Burley, West Riding (late 13th century) being a gift to Kirkstall Abbey; Ellerton (1579) being the quitclaim to the site of Ellerton monastery of Robert Aske to John Palmes; Escrick (1592) being a sale to Thomas Knyvett; Ganton (1324, 1552); Garforth, West Riding (1584); Holtby, North Riding (1368). Papers for Naburn (early 13th century-1906) include the earliest documents in the collection in the form of a quitclaim with seal and a gift to the Priory of St Andrew; the earliest title deed of the Palmes family dated 1278; manor court rolls 1424-26, 1476, 1642, 1652, 1659, 1696-1700, 1707-11; an extract from the will of William Robinson (1614); 1698, 1791 and 1793 rentals of Naburn and Hurst; the 1766 enclosure act; an original bundle relating to tithes for the rectory of St George 1618-1834; the marriage settlement by demise of William Palmes and Mary Stapleton (1650); an original bundle of eighteenth-century papers relating to the Bovill, Healas and Stabler families; an original bundle of papers relating to the tithes in Acaster Malbis 1605-1775; title deeds relating to Tate's Farm dating from 1673 and including the marriage settlement of George Stockton and Alice Legg (1680) and the wills of George Stockton (1701), Thomas Stockton (1723), Eleanor Stockton (1734), Richard Stockton (1737); an original bundle of papers of the Reverend William Lindsay Palmes including title deeds, the wills of Elizabeth Myers (1683), Matthew Myers (1711), Charles Myers (1741), Jane Tate (1771), Thomas Rodwell (1787), John Tate (1792), Thomas Ashness (1827) and Adam Dale (1839) and a pedigree of the descendants of Joseph Lindley and Martha Winn (1760-1818); an original bundle dating from 1725 which includes the wills of George Bovill (1725), John Stead (1811) and Thomas Croft (1841); an original bundle of navigation papers relating to Naburn Lock 1727-67; an original bundle relating to a farm bought in 1769 which includes the marriage settlement of William Todd and Esther Wood (1741) and the will of Mary Wood (1750); the 1768 agreement of the Reverend William Barrett, vicar of Naburn, to accept allotments in lieu of tithes; an original bundle relating to Swales Farm which includes the wills of George Palmes (1774) and Mary Palmes (1776); an original bundle relating to the mortgage to Lord Wenlock dating from 1796 and including the marriage settlements of George Palmes and Margaret Lindsay (1810), James Jardine and Isabella Palmes (1845), John William Brotherton and Georgina Palmes (1846) and James Palmes and Annie Champney (1850) and the will of George Palmes (1850).

Remaining estate papers in U DDPA are as follows: Nun Monkton (1538) being a copy of the letters patent granting to Sir John Nevill the site of Nun Monkton Priory with the rectory and tithes of Kirk Hamerton; Riccall (1517); various townships (1393, 1542-1546) including a detailed award made by the Archbishop of York to settle disputes over rights on Wheldrake Common and Escrick Moss. There are a few estate papers for Lancashire (1420-1769) including papers of the Ashton and Scarisbrick family.

Other papers in U DDPA are as follows: accounts (1607-1846) including some seventeenth-century quietuses for recusancy fines, estate accounts of George Palmes 1795-9 and two nineteenth-century bank books; miscellaneous (1625-1830) including a schedule of family title deeds, a list of family papers, the letters patent of 1526 giving a general pardon to Brian Palmes, some early modern papers of the Chapman and Stockton families and the commission of Brian Palmes as an ensign (1830); settlements (1420-1858) including the marriage settlements of Thomas Ashton and Ellen Urswick (1420), William Vavasour and Isabel Malaverer (1455), Thomas Methan and Edith Palmes (1555), John Chapman and Anne Robinson (1583), William Palmes and Catherine Langdale (1631), Brian Palmes and Anne Scarisbrick (1729), William Lindsay Palmes and Marianne Empson (1849), William Palmes and Mary Stapleton (1660), George Palmes and Anne Wytham (1689), George Palmes and Catherine Heneaghe (1749), John Palmes and Susannah Wharrie (1775), George Palmes and Margaret Isabella Lindsay (1810) and Henry Gale and Mary Bell (1798); wills (1490-1832) being those of William Chamberlain (1490), John Palmes (1784), George Palmes (1729) and including also letters of administration granted to Mary Wood (1713), Brian Palmes (1734) and Stapleton Palmes (1737).

U DDPA2 is a more diverse but smaller collection of papers in the following sections: Naburn (1739-1961) including a 1739 plan of the estate of George Palmes with surveys and valuations related to enclosure, an 1844 appeal against the land tax and a summary of the marriage settlement of George Palmes and Eva Blanche Harrison (1882), as well as a few leases and tenancy agreements and the Naburn estate field book for 1932; accounts and rentals (1766-1970) including the rental and steward's account book 1781-94 and a household account book 1810-46; correspondence (1826-1843) being about forty family letters especially those written by the sons of George and Margaret Palmes whilst they were in the West Indies; genealogical papers (1775-1902) including an illuminated pedigree of circa 1600 and baptismal certificates for John Philip Palmes (1817) and Manfred Leslie (1821); miscellaneous (1705-1939) including the 1842 journal of a voyage to the West Indies and South America and the funeral notice of Mrs E B Palmes dated 1939; wills (1861-1903) being those of William Lindsay Palmes (1861) and Marianne Palmes (1895).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Palmes family traced its pedigree back to Manfred Palmes who was living in 1140 and had lands in Taunton, Somerset. It is a family unique in being able to trace an unbroken inheritance from son to son from the twelfth century to 1974, with only one exception in the eighteenth century. In 1226 lands at Naburn in East Yorkshire were assigned to William Palmes by Richard de Watervill, the brother of Maud de Watervill, William Palmes's wife. The demesne lordship of Naburn then descended in the Palmes family to the twentieth century (Baines, Old Naburn, p. 45; Allison, History of York East Riding, iii, p. 77; Foster, Pedigrees, iii).

Naburn is about three miles south of York and the Palmes family built a manor house on the east bank of the River Ouse. The house was first mentioned in 1345 and had eight hearths in 1672. A drawing of circa 1720 indicates a two storey house, three bays in length with attic windows in high gables. In other words, the family was comfortably-wealthy, although it was not until the early sixteenth century that any of the male members of the family held public office. William Palmes, who was living in the middle of the fifteenth century, married Ellen Rocliffe, whose father was one of the barons of the exchequer. She provided him with three male heirs and a daughter before taking the veil during his lifetime, in 1479. There are no personal papers surviving for the late middle ages, but the collection is unusual in being rich in estate papers, including early marriage settlements. However, many of the medieval papers are badly damaged by damp, probably because of the location of the family hall (Baines, Old Naburn, pedigree; Allison, History of York East Riding, iii, p. 77 citing BL Lansdowne MS 914 f. 31; Foster, Pedigrees, iii).

The eldest son of William and Ellen Palmes was another William Palmes, whose first marriage to Eleanor Heslerton resulted in two sons who were the first to hold any major public office. Their youngest son, Guy Palmes was serjeant-at-law in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII. He was a reader of the Middle Temple and died in 1516. His older brother, Brian Palmes was also a lawyer of the Middle Temple and became a justice on the assize circuit for the county of Lancaster. In 1496 Brian Palmes was recorder for the city of York and resigned the office in 1509 when he became a member of parliament. He married three time, leaving issue only by his second wife, and died in 1520. His three younger sons followed him into law and public office. His eldest son, Nicholas Palmes (d.1551), married twice and left a son, Brian Palmes (d.circa 1581), whose second wife, Anne, was the daughter of John Constable of Burton Constable. These two generations of the Palmes family were the first to be affected by the Reformation. Coming from a family who for several generations had been admitted of Corpus Christi, York, they were not swift to abandon their Catholicism and Brian Palmes was the first member of the family to be recorded as paying a recusancy fine in 1577. Unfortunately for the Palmes family they were rather visible, as Naburn Hall stood directly opposite the palace of the Archbishop of York on the River Ouse and they went on suffering fines for non-attendance at church until they changed religious allegiance in 1784. Until that time their Catholicism meant that half the village of Naburn was Catholic as well, while the other half of the village followed the Protestant example of the Baines family at Bell Hall (Allison, History of York East Riding, iii, p. 81; Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Trappes-Lomax, 'The Palmes family', pp. 443-4).

Catholicism excluded the Palmes family from public office and they seem to have retreated to their estates, though their pedigree indicates that they continued to marry well, usually to other large landed Catholic families like the Langdales and the Stapletons. Some younger members of the family became Jesuit priests. The eldest son of Brian Palmes and Anne Constable, John Palmes (alive 1584), 'did not go to church and entertained in his house instead of a gardiner an old renegade Scottish prattling priest'. His wife, Joan Dawnay, did the same and they purchased the estate that had belonged to the Guild of Corpus Christi. Their eldest son, George Palmes (d.1654) married Catherine Babthorpe whose brother and sister were both in the Benedictine order. One of their own daughters went to the Augustinian convent in Louvain. George Palmes was knighted by Charles I, probably for his royalist support during the 1640s. It is likely he was at Marston Moor, because a family ring, originally the property of Brian Palmes (d.1520), was later returned to the family from the site of the battle (Baines, Old Naburn, p. 47; Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Trappes-Lomax, 'The Palmes family', pp. 446-8).

The eldest son of George and Catherine Palmes, William Palmes (b. circa 1609), married Catherine Langdale and had six children. William Palmes died in 1674 and was succeeded by his eldest son, also William Palmes (b. 1639). William Palmes junior was married to Mary, sole heiress of Brian Stapleton, who was slain at Chester. William and Mary Palmes had eight children at least two of whom died as children. Mary died, possibly from childbirth in 1674. Their eldest son, Nicholas Palmes (b.1664) predeceased his father as a young man of twenty (d.1684) and William Palmes was succeeded by his second son, George Palmes (b.1666) when he died in 1686 (Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Trappes-Lomax, 'The Palmes family', p. 450).

George Palmes was married to Anne Witham and the couple were responsible for harbouring several Catholic priests at the old manor house in Naburn in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, including Ann's brother, George Witham, for two years before he left for Rome. The other major family of Naburn, the Baines family (see DDBH), were nonconformist Protestant in their sympathies and hid presbyterian ministers in the cavities of their walls, so there can have been little love lost between the two families. George and Ann Palmes had nine children, though their eldest son died the day he was born and two more sons died in infancy. George Palmes was in ownership of Naburn Hall from 1686 until his death in 1732 when the estates passed to Brian Palmes (b.1696), who rebuilt the hall in the Georgian style before himself dying in 1737. He died without issue and the estates passed to George Palmes (b. circa 1727), eldest son of his brother, George Palmes, and Frances Plumpton. However, George Palmes and his wife, Catherine Heneaghe, had only a daughter who died an infant and the estates passed on his death in 1774 to his brother John Palmes (b.circa 1732), who was married to Susannah Wharrie (Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Trappes-Lomax, 'The Palmes family', p. 450; Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, p. 617).

John Palmes was a Catholic, but when he died in 1783 he left two young children and his wife brought them up as Protestants, so reversing over two hundred years of Catholic nonconformity. Their eldest son, George Palmes (b.1776), was, thus, the first member of the Palmes family to hold public office for ten generations and he became a justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant of the East Riding. He married Margaret Isabella Lindsay, from Oatlands near Glasgow and they had five sons and four daughters. Their eldest son, Brian Palmes (b.circa 1811-12), and fourth son, Manfred Leslie Palmes (b.1821) died in Barbadoes and Trinidad respectively, in the same year - 1839 - and the only significant correspondence in the collection is the letters home of these two young men (Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Trappes-Lomax, 'The Palmes family', p. 450).

George Palmes died in 1851 and was succeeded by his second son, William Lindsay Palmes (b.1813). He was admitted a pensioner of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1831 and was awarded BA in 1836 and MA in 1839. He was an accomplished modern linguist and went into the church, being ordained a deacon at Winchester in 1844. He was temporarily in Jersey before being transferred to Bishopthorpe in Yorkshire in 1847 and gaining a living as vicar of Hornsea and Riston in 1848. He married Marianne Empson in 1849 and their eldest son, George Palmes, was born in the year he succeeded to the Naburn estates, in 1851. He followed his father's example and became a justice of the peace and was vicar of Naburn from 1873 until his death in 1888 (Baines, Old Naburn, pedigree; Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Trappes-Lomax, 'The Palmes family', p. 450; Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, II, v, p.17).

William and Marianne Palmes had seven children and the eldest two sons followed their father into the church. George Palmes was admitted to Lincoln College, Oxford, being awarded BA in 1874 and MA in 1878, before getting his first living in Hill Farrance, Somerset. His brother, Arthur Lindsay Palmes (b.1853), was admitted to Trinity College, Oxford, gaining BA in 1877 and MA in 1879 before being given livings in Cornwall. The third son, Guy St Maur Palmes, followed a second family tradition of joining the army. George Palmes married Eva Blanche Harrison in 1882 and they had eight children between 1883 and 1895. They only came to live at Naburn in 1894, six years after George Palmes succeeded to the estates. He was succeeded in turn by his eldest son, George Brian Palmes who was born on 29 July 1884 and who was the despositor of the family papers. He died in 1974, leaving no male heirs (Baines, Old Naburn, pedigree; Foster, Pedigrees, iii; Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, iii, p.1062).

Access Information

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Other Finding Aids

Entry in Landed family and estate archives subject guide

Custodial History

U DDPA deposited by George Brian Palmes in the East Riding Record Office on 15 September 1960 and transferred to Hull University Archives in 1974; U DDPA2 deposited by his executor, B Bray, on 6 June 1975.

Related Material

From the Papers of the Baines Family [U DDBH(12)]

From the Papers of the Forbes Adam/Thompson/Lawley [U DDFA/5/83, 107-108; U DDFA/10; U DDFA/42/21; U DDFA(2)/35-38; U DDFA(5)/3]

From the Papers of the Preston Family [U DDPR/49/13]


  • Allison, K J, A history of Yorkshire East Riding (1976)
  • Baines, W M, Old Naburn (1895)
  • Foster, Joseph, Alumni Oxonienses (1888)
  • Foster, Joseph, Pedigrees of the county families of Yorkshire, (1874)
  • Pevsner, N & Neave, D, The buildings of England: York and the East Riding (1995)
  • Trappes-Lomax, 'The Palmes family of Naburn and their contribution to the survival of Roman Catholicism', The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 40 (1959-62), pp. 443-50
  • Venn, John, Alumni Cantabrigienses (1924)