John Palmer (1760-1833)

John Palmer is one of 17 First Fleeters with memorials buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. A member of the British Royal Navy, John Palmer served in the American Revolutionary War, during which he became a prisoner of war. In Australia, he is best known for being the purser on the First Fleet flagship the HMS Sirius. In his colonial life, John Palmer was a justice of the peace, a large landowner, and a committee member of the Female Orphan School at Parramatta. He is buried with his brother Christopher Palmer, who is also one of the 17 First Fleeters with memorials at the cemetery.


Names

  • Colloquial: “Little Jack”
  • Formal: John Palmer Esq.
  • John Palmer Public School at 85 The Ponds Boulevard, The Ponds, which opened in 2008, is named after him.

Timeline

  • Born: 1760 in England
  • Enters the navy: 1769 (aged 9)
  • Became a prisoner of war: Battle of Yorktown, American Revolutionary War, 11 September 1781
  • Married Susannah Stilwell: 1783
  • Birth of son, George Thomas Palmer: April 1784
  • Birth of son, John Westwick Palmer: c.1786 (died in infancy)
  • Joined the HMS Sirius as purser: 10 January 1787
  • Birth of son, Henry Westwick Palmer: c.1787 (died in infancy)
  • Sailed with the First Fleet per Sirius: 13 May 1787
  • Arrived at Port Jackson: 26 January 1788
  • Appointed Commissary: 2 June 1791
  • Returned to England per Britannia: September 1796
  • Birth of son, John Palmer (II): 1798
  • Returned to New South Wales per Porpoise: November 1800
  • Granted 100 acres (40 ha) of land: February 1793, at the head of Garden Island Cove, then known as Palmer’s Cove where he established Woolloomooloo Farm
  • Birth of son, Edwin Palmer: 1802
  • Birth of daughter, Sophia Susannah Palmer: 1803
  • Became committee member of Female Orphan School: 1803 – 1824
  • On trial for sedition: 18 March 1809. Found guilty and sentenced to three months imprisonment in Sydney Gaol
  • Died: 27 September 1833 at Waddon
  • Buried: 1 October 1833 at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta

Burial Location

  • Section 1, Row N, No.14 at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta

Relationships

  • Sibling of Christopher Palmer
  • Spouse of Susannah Stilwell
  • Parent of George Thomas Palmer
  • Parent of John Westwick Palmer (died in infancy, in England)
  • Parent of Henry Westwick Palmer (died in infancy, in England)
  • Parent of John Palmer (II)
  • Parent of Edwin Palmer
  • Parent of Sophia Susannah Palmer

Occupations

  • Baker
  • Benefactor (general)
  • Purser
  • Commissary
  • Defence forces personnel (British)
  • Farmer
  • Flour miller
  • Magistrate
  • Sealer
  • Shipowner

Positions

  • Captain’s servant, British Royal Navy
  • Seaman, British Royal Navy
  • Purser on HMS Sirius
  • Commissary
  • Magistrate
  • Committee member of The Female Orphan School, Parramatta

Property

  • Owned Woolloomooloo Farm, Palmer’s Cove (at the head of present-day Garden Island Cove). It was one of the colony’s first permanent residences.
  • A 300 acre (121 ha) Hawkesbury Farm
  • George: a small colonial-built craft used for sealing in Bass Strait
  • John: a small colonial-built craft used for sealing in Bass Strait
  • Edwin: a small craft that regularly travelled the Hawkesbury River and along the coast with grain, timber and coals.
  • A windmill, on the margin of the Domain
  • A bakery, near the present-day Sydney Conservatorium of Music

John Palmer: The Purser, The P.O.W. (2016)

By Ben Vine

Abstract: John Palmer’s life was closely tied up with the waxing fortunes of the British Empire in the late eighteenth century. His experience as both a British POW and a member of the NSW elite reveals the connections between the American Revolution and the settlement of NSW, but also how the shaping of narratives of America’s founding limits our knowledge of those connections. more>>


Multimedia


Sources

  • Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991)
  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989)
  • Parish Burial Records, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

Lists

# Event: American Revolutionary War

# First Fleet

# Came Free

# Ship: HMS Sirius (1788)

# Ship: Porpoise (1800)

# Burial year: 1833

# Grave: marked