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William Palmer

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Born at Mixbury, Oxfordshire, 12 July, 1811; died at Rome, 4 April, 1879; the elder brother of Roundell Palmer, afterwards Lord Chancellor of England and first Earl of Selborne. He himself was educated at Rugby and Oxford (Magdalen College), where he proceeded M A. in 1833, being then in deacon's orders of the Church of England. He was, successively, tutor at Durham University (1834-37), classical examiner at Oxford 1837-39, and tutor at Magdalen College (1838-43). In 1840 he visited Russia to obtain, if possible, official recognition of the Anglican Church as a branch of the Catholic Church; but after a year's fruitless labour his claim to communion was rejected by the Metropolitan of Moscow. A second attempt in 1842 only resulted in the express rejection by the Russian Church of Anglican claims to Catholicism. After the Gorham Judgment in 1852 he contemplated joining the Russian Church, but was deterred by the necessity for rebaptism. He spent some time in Egypt and then went to Rome, where he was received into the Church, 28 Feb., 1855, and where he spent the rest of his life. His works, which show a wide acquaintance with both Anglican and Eastern theology, were mainly concerned with his efforts to obtain intercommunion between these bodies. Chief among these were: "Harmony of Anglican Doctrine with the Doctrine of the Eastern Church" (Aberdeen, 1846; Greek version, Athens, 1851); "An appeal to the Scottish Bishops and Clergy" (Edinburgh, 1849); and "Dissertations on subjects relating to the Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Communion" (London, 1853). After he became a Catholic he devoted himself to archæology and wrote: "An Introduction to Early Christian Symbolism" (London, 1859); and "Egyptian Chronicles, with a harmony of sacred and Egyptian Chronology" (London, 1861). He also wrote a Latin commentary on the Book of Daniel (Rome, 1874), and a number of minor works. After his death his friend Cardinal Newman edited his "Notes of a Visit to the Russian Church" (London, 1882).


Rugby School Registers, 1675-1874 (London, 1881-6); BLOXAM, Magdalen College Registers (London, 1853-85); NEALE, Life of Patrick Torry, D.D. (London, 1856), vi; WORDSWORTH, Annals of my Life, 1847-1856 (London, 1893); LIDDON, Life of Pusey (London, 1893-4); BROWNE, Annals of the Tractarian Movement (London, 1856); MOZLEY, Reminiscences (London, 1882).

About this page

APA citation. Burton, E. (1911). William Palmer. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Burton, Edwin. "William Palmer." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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