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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Palmer, George Thomas (1784–1854)

by Margaret Steven

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

George Thomas Palmer (1784-1854), landholder, was born on 26 April 1784 at Brompton, Kent, England, the son of John Palmer, commissary of New South Wales, and his American wife Susan, née Stilwell. He joined the army in November 1800 and is reputed to have seen action against Napoleon. On 26 March 1805 he married Catherine Irene Pemberton (1787-1855) at Malta. In 1806 he came to New South Wales with her in the Albion, as a lieutenant in the 61st Regiment but with permission to settle as a free immigrant.

Between 7 May 1810 and 7 November 1811 he acted as provost-marshal while William Gore was absent in England. When Governor Lachlan Macquarie dismissed John Jamieson from the position of superintendent of government stock, he appointed Palmer in his place from 1 May 1813 at an increased salary which he thought more commensurate to responsibility for government property valued at £40,000, and recommended Palmer at this time as 'a Young Man of good Education, high Honor & Integrity, active diligent & intelligent'. However, Palmer resigned the position within a year, set up his home at Pemberton Grange near Parramatta, and acquired extensive lands and stock, including 700 acres (283 ha) at Bringelly granted in August 1812. By 1828 he held Ginninderra Station in County Murray, where nearly 4000 (1619 ha) of its 13,200 acres (5342 ha) had been cleared and he ran almost 2000 head of cattle and 6000 sheep. He was a shareholder in the Australian Agricultural Co.

He was notably active in colonial public life. He was a magistrate for many years and, though one of those who preferred dismissal in August 1822 by Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane to association on the bench with Henry Grattan Douglass, was reinstated in November 1825. He was a member of the managing committee of the Female Factory in the late 1820s. In July 1829 he signed the address of landed proprietors and merchants in support of Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling and in August 1836 served on the committee in opposition to the establishment of National schools. In 1829 his name was included in the list of those who might be nominated to the Legislative Council should there be a vacancy in that body. Later he returned to England and he died on 26 October 1854 at Bath, where he was buried. His wife and nine children survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vol 7
  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 7-8, 14-15, 18
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 22, 27 Jan 1855
  • manuscript catalogue under George Thomas Palmer (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Thematic Essay

Citation details

Margaret Steven, 'Palmer, George Thomas (1784–1854)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 22 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

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