Ronald Poulton-Palmer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ronald Poulton
Ronald Poulton-Palmer.jpg
Poulton in 1911
Full name Ronald William Poulton
Date of birth (1889-09-12)12 September 1889
Place of birth Headington, England
Date of death 4 May 1915(1915-05-04) (aged 25)
Place of death Ploegsteert
School Dragon School; Rugby School,
University Balliol College, Oxford
Notable relative(s) Edward Bagnall Poulton, father
George William Palmer, uncle
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Centre threequarter (sometimes wing threequarter)
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Oxford University RFC
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1909–1914 England 17 (28)

Ronald William Poulton (later sometimes Poulton Palmer) (12 September 1889 – 5 May 1915) was an English rugby union footballer, who captained England and was killed in The First World War.

Born in Headington, he was the son of Sir Edward Bagnall Poulton, the zoologist and his wife Emily Palmer. He was educated at Dragon School, Rugby School, and Balliol College, Oxford.

Sporting career[edit]

Poulton played for Balliol College, Oxford University RFC, Harlequins and Liverpool F.C.[Note 1] Poulton is one of three men to score a hat-trick of tries in the Varsity match – he scored five, still the individual record for the fixture, in 1909. He captained England during the 1913/4 unbeaten season (now what would be called a 'Grand Slam'), scoring four tries against France in 1914, in the last test match prior to the outbreak of World War I. Poulton was renowned for his elusiveness and glamorous style of play – "the very mention of swerving sends ones thoughts to the late Ronald Poulton, the swerver par excellence... swerving and Poulton are almost synonymous terms" (DR Gent in CJB Marriott's Modern Rugby Football).

He officially changed his surname to Palmer by Royal Licence as a condition of inheriting a fortune from his uncle George William Palmer of Huntley and Palmer biscuit company in 1914. His surname was never actually 'Poulton Palmer' (or even the hyphenated version 'Poulton-Palmer), although he was often later called this.

World War 1 service[edit]

Ronald Poulton-Palmer's grave

Poulton was commissioned into 1st/4th territorial battalion of The Royal Berkshire Regiment and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. On the morning of 5 May 1915, whilst supervising trench work from the top of a superior officer's newly repaired dugout, Poulton Palmer was killed by a sniper's bullet – to a man his platoon wept at their and the nation's loss. He was twenty-five years of age.

Ronald Poulton Palmer's grave is in Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, near Ploegsteert, Belgium.[1] A memorial to him was erected at Balliol College, on the west wall of the Chapel passage.[2]

Twenty six England international rugby players were killed in World War I of a total international toll of one hundred and thirty. One of the most notable was Poulton Palmer, who was considered by many contemporary observers as perhaps the greatest-ever attacking rugby union threequarter.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liverpool later merged with St. Helens RUFC to create Liverpool St Helens F.C..


  1. ^ "Casualty Details: Poulton Palmer, Ronald William". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  2. ^ John Jones (1999). "Memorial inscriptions". Balliol College Archives & Manuscripts. Balliol College, Oxford. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Norman Wodehouse
English National Rugby Union Captain
Succeeded by
Jenny Greenwood