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Charles Palmer

Sir Charles Mark Palmer, 1st Baronet (3 November 1822 – 4 June 1907) was an English shipbuilder born in South Shields, County Durham, England. He was also a Liberal Party politician and Member of Parliament. His father, originally the captain of a whaler, moved in 1828 to Newcastle upon Tyne, where he owned a ship owning and ship-broking business.

Early life[edit | edit source]

At the age of 15 Charles Palmer entered a shipping business in the city. After six months, he travelled to Marseilles, France, where his father had procured him a post in a large commercial house, at the same time entrusting him with the local agency of his own business. After two years' experience in Marseilles he entered his father's business in Newcastle, and in 1842 he became a partner.

His business capacity attracted the attention of a leading local colliery owner, and he was appointed manager of the Marley Hill colliery south of Gateshead, in which he became a partner in 1846.[1] Subsequently, he was made one of the managers of the associated collieries north and south of the Tyne owned by Lord Ravensworth, Lord Wharncliffe, the Marquess of Bute and Lord Strathmore.

Emergence as an entrepreneur[edit | edit source]

Using the profits of the Marley Hill colliery, he gradually purchased the properties of his erstwhile employer, while simultaneously he greatly developed the recently established coke trade, obtaining the coke contracts for several of the large English and continental railways.

Establishment of Palmer's shipyard[edit | edit source]

"Shipping". Caricature by Ape published in Vanity Fair in 1884

About 1850 the question of coal-transport to the London market became a serious question for north country colliery proprietors. Palmer therefore built, largely according to his own plans, the John Bowes, the first iron screw collier, and several other steam-colliers, in a yard established by him at Jarrow, then a small Tyneside village.

He then purchased iron mines in Yorkshire and erected large shipbuilding yards along the Tyne at Jarrow, including blast-furnaces, steel-works, rolling-mills and engine works, all on a massive scale. The firm produced warships as well as merchant vessels, and its system of rolling armour plates, introduced in 1856, was generally adopted by other builders.

In 1865 he turned the business into Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Company Limited.

Military career[edit | edit source]

In 1868 Palmer raised a new unit in the Volunteer Force, the 1st Durham Engineer Volunteers at Jarrow, and he was commissioned as Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant. Later, the 1st Durham EV merged with the smaller 1st Newcastle EV as the 1st Newcastle upon Tyne and Durham EV, with Palmer as commanding officer.[2][3][4][5]

Palmer retired from the Volunteers in 1888 with the rank of colonel. The same year, the 1st Newcastle & Durham was split into three separate units: the 1st Durham Royal Engineers (Volunteers), at Jarrow,[3][4] and the Tyne Division RE (V), Submarine Miners at North Shields, with Palmer as Honorary Commandant of both units,[2][6][7][8][9] together with a new 1st Newcastle upon Tyne RE (V).[10] Palmer's younger brother, Alfred Septimus Palmer (1834–1910), a Newcastle mining engineer who had been a major in the 1st Newcastle and Durham, became commanding officer of the third unit.[2][11]

Political career[edit | edit source]

Statue of Charles Palmer, opposite the Town Hall in Jarrow

At the 1874 general election, Palmer was elected as Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP) for North Durham, and held the seat until its abolition for the 1885 general election. He was then elected for the new Jarrow constituency, and sat for the constituency until his death in London in 1907.

He was twice Mayor of Jarrow, in 1875 and again in 1902-03.[12]

Palmer was in 1902 President of the Newcastle and Gateshead Chamber of Commerce (he probably held this position for several years).[13]

Baronetcy[edit | edit source]

In 1886, Palmer's services in connection with the settlement of the costly dispute between British ship-owners and the Suez Canal Company (of which he was then a director) were rewarded with a baronetcy, as Sir Charles Palmer, 1st Baronet of Grinkle Park, County York.[6]

Family[edit | edit source]

Palmer married, firstly, on 29 July 1846, Jane, daughter of Ebenezer Robson of Newcastle. They had two sons:[6]

  • George Robson Palmer, later 2nd Baronet (1849–1910)
  • Alfred Molyneux Palmer, later 3rd Baronet (1853–1935)

Jane Palmer died on 6 April 1865.

Palmer married, secondly, on 4 July 1867, Augusta Mary, daughter of Alfred Lambert, of Paris and Massa di Carraca, Italy. They had two further sons:[6]

Augusta Palmer died 2 December 1875.

Palmer married, thirdly, on 17 February 1877, Gertrude, daughter of James Montgomrey of Brentford, Middlesex.[14] They had two children:[6]

  • Major Godfrey Mark Palmer, MP for Jarrow (1878–1933)
  • Hilda Gertrude Montgomerie Palmer (1884–1946)

Sir Charles Palmer died on 4 June 1907, when he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son. Gertrude, Lady Palmer, died on 21 January 1918.[6]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. "Collier who steamed into North legend". 29 May 2004. https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/collier-who-steamed-north-legend-1619012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Army List.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Westlake, p. 7.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Durham Fortress Engineers at Regiments.org
  5. Short et al, p. 2.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Burke's Peerage and Barinetage.
  7. Short et al, pp. 4–5.
  8. Westlake, p. 15.
  9. Tyne Electrical Engineers at Regiments.org
  10. Westlake, p. 13.
  11. Alfred Septimus Palmer family tree and biography at Eric Palmer's Home Page, accessed 5/2/15
  12. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 13 November 1902. 
  13. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 1 October 1902. 
  14. Ronalds, B.F. (2018). "The Montgomrey Family of Brentford: Timber Merchants and Benefactors". pp. 57–69. 

References[edit | edit source]

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) "Palmer, Sir Charles Mark" Encyclopædia Britannica 20 (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 
  • Burke's Peerage and Baronetage (various edns).
  • Maj O.M. Short, Maj H. Sherlock, Capt L.E.C.M. Perowne and Lt M.A. Fraser, The History of the Tyne Electrical Engineers, Royal Engineers, 1884–1933, 1933/Uckfield: Naval & Military, nd, ISBN 1-845747-96-8.
  • R.A. Westlake, Royal Engineers (Volunteers) 1859–1908, Wembley: R.A. Westlake, 1983, ISBN 0-9508530-0-3.

External links[edit | edit source]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Hedworth Williamson
George Elliot
Member of Parliament for North Durham
With: Lowthian Bell Feb-Jun 1874
George Elliot 1874–1880
John Joicey 1880–1881
George Elliot 1881–1885
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Jarrow
Succeeded by
Pete Curran
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Grinkle Park and Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
Succeeded by
George Robson Palmer

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