George Palmer (businessman)

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George Palmer
Statue of George Palmer.jpg
Statue of George Palmer in Palmer Park, Reading
Born (1818-01-18)18 January 1818
Died 19 August 1897(1897-08-19) (aged 79)
Occupation MP; biscuit manufacturer

George Palmer (18 January 1818 – 19 August 1897) was a proprietor of the Huntley & Palmers biscuit manufacturers of Reading in England.

Family life[edit]

Palmer was born in Long Sutton in Somerset, the son of William Palmer and his wife, Mary, the daughter of William Isaac of Sturminster Newton in Dorset.[1] His daughter Emily married the evolutionary biologist Edward Bagnall Poulton.


Palmer first became a partner in the firm 1841, when Joseph Huntley, the founder of the business, was forced to retire through ill-health and it became apparent that Thomas Huntley, his son, did not have his father's good sense of business.[2]

Whilst it was Joseph Huntley's innovation in the introduction of the biscuit tin and in the sale of biscuits to stage coach travellers that created the business, George Palmer is generally credited with making it a major Victorian success through industrial manufacturing techniques, and by using the railways for distribution.[3]

When Thomas Huntley died, in 1857, George Palmer was joined in the business by two brothers, William Isaac Palmer and Samuel Palmer. He was later joined by his son, George William Palmer.[3]


In addition to his business career, George Palmer served as mayor of Reading and represented the town in parliament. He served as Liberal Member of Parliament for the Parliamentary Borough of Reading from 1878 until 1885. His country estate was Marlston House in Bucklebury.


The statue of Palmer in Broad Street, c. 1890 by Henry Taunt

The statue of George Palmer which now stands in Palmer Park was by sculptor George Blackall Simonds and originally sited in Broad Street. It was unveiled in 1891, the same day that Palmer Park opened. However this was moved in 1930 to its current location as it caused traffic congestion.[4]


  1. ^ Bush, Robin (1994). Somerset: The complete guide. Wimbourne: Dovecote press. ISBN 1-874336-27-X. 
  2. ^ Reading History Trail. Huntley and Palmers, Retrieved 30 January 2006
  3. ^ a b Courtney 1901.
  4. ^ Statue of George Palmer, Reading. British Listed Buildings, Retrieved 31 January 2012


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Shaw-Lefevre
Sir Francis Goldsmid
Member of Parliament for Reading
1878 – 1885
With: George Shaw-Lefevre
Succeeded by
Charles Townshend Murdoch