Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George Eugene Palmer (1859–1910)

by Ian Johnson

This article was published:

George Eugene Palmer (1859-1910) cricketer, was born on 13 February 1859 at Mulwala, New South Wales, eldest child of David Bernard Palmer, poundkeeper, and his wife Mary, née Barry. Educated at Macgregor's school in Emerald Hill, Melbourne, he joined the 'Young Victoria' cricket club and through his bowling skill was invited to play with the South Melbourne club.

In December 1878 Palmer played for the Victorian 15 against the Australian 11 and against Lord Harris's English 11, taking 4 wickets for 72. In the same season when the Victorian 11 played Harris's team he took 6 for 64 off 34 overs and 3 for 30 off 20 overs. His reputation made, he toured England with the 1880 Australian side and in eleven-a-side games he took 80 wickets at an average of 11, second only to Spofforth. In the 1882 tour he took 138 averaging 12, 132 at 16 in 1884 and 106 at 22 in 1886. In first-class cricket he took 591 wickets at 17, including 78 in Test matches at 21, with best performances 7 for 68 at Sydney in 1882 and 7 for 65 at Melbourne in 1883. With a smooth action he bowled medium-paced off and leg cutters. Later his batting improved and in the 1886 tour he scored over 1000 runs. For Victoria he took 103 wickets at 17, and scored 558 runs averaging 21 with a top score of 77. He was one of the best Australian cricketers of the 1880s.

Popular with his team-mates and known as 'Joey', Palmer had a keen sense of humour and was well known for his practical jokes. He called W. G. Grace 'Fantail'. A knee injury in 1887 cut his active career short and he went to Launceston as coach and ground caretaker. On the death of his wife Lucinda, a sister of J. M. Blackham, he returned to Victoria where he died of pneumonia at Benalla on 22 August 1910.

Select Bibliography

  • Age (Melbourne), 23 Aug 1910
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Aug 1910
  • Australasian, 27 Aug 1910.

Citation details

Ian Johnson, 'Palmer, George Eugene (1859–1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 24 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Palmer, Joey

13 February, 1859
Mulwala, New South Wales, Australia


22 August, 1910 (aged 51)
Benalla, Victoria, Australia