Walter Palmer (Puritan)
|Died||October 10, 1661(aged 76)|
|Resting place||Wequetequock Cemetery
|Known for||Founder of New England settlements|
Palmer was likely born in Yetminster, Dorset, England in 1585. He married in England and fathered five children.
On April 5, 1629, Palmer sailed on the Four Sisters from Gravesend, England to Salem, Massachusetts, arriving that June. The next year, he was indicted on manslaughter charges for allegedly beating a man to death, but was acquitted in November 1630. His close friend William Chesebrough stood as a witness in the trial.
Palmer and Chesebrough took the Oath of a Freeman on May 18, 1631. In 1633, Palmer married a second time to Rebecca Short. They eventually had seven children together. In 1635, Palmer was elected a selectman of Charlestown and the next year became constable.
On August 24, 1643, Palmer and Chesebrough left Charlestown and started a new settlement called Seacuncke (later renamed Rehoboth). Palmer was among the first selectmen. When the settlement assigned itself to Plymouth Colony, the deputy elected to represent Rehoboth at the Plymouth court refused to serve because he preferred attachment to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Palmer was then appointed in his place.
Palmer and Chesebrough were also dissatisfied with the Plymouth alignment and, sometime prior to 1653, John Winthrop, Jr. persuaded Chesebrough to relocate to southern Connecticut. Chesebrough obtained a 2,300-acre (9 km2) land grant from the settlement in New London, Connecticut; Palmer and his son-in-law Thomas Miner followed him and purchased land on the east bank of Wequetequoc Cove, across from Chesebrough.
In August 1652, Miner built his father-in-law and himself a house on their land; the next year, both their families joined them, and other settlers soon followed. The group struggled for years for self-rule. During that time, Palmer served as constable and again as a selectman. It took until 1661 to build a church meetinghouse due to resistance from the General Court of Connecticut, which preferred that the colonists travel across the river to New London. Palmer died two months after the meetinghouse was first used.
The 300-year Stonington Chronology describes Palmer as the
...patriarch of the early Stonington settlers...(who) had been prominent in the establishment of Boston, Charlestown and Rehoboth ...a vigorous giant, 6 feet 5 inches tall. When he settled at Southertown (Stonington) he was sixty-eight years old, older than most of the other settlers.
- Thomas T. Minor
- William Adams Palmer, Governor of and Senator from Vermont
- Thomas Witherell Palmer, U.S. Senator from Michigan
- Nathaniel Brown Palmer, explorer after whom Palmer Land, part of the Antarctic Peninsula, is named
- Nathaniel Gregory Palmer, noted author
- Lowell Palmer Weicker, Governor of, Senator from and Congressman from Connecticut.
- Ulysses Simpson Grant, 18th President of the United States
- Walter Palmer Society
- Stonington Historical Society - In Search of the First Settlers
- Original Stonington settlements c. 1651 - map
- "Biography of Walter Palmer". Walter Palmer Society.  Accessed 31 July 2007.
- Caulkins, Frances Manwaring. History of New London, Connecticut: From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612 to 1860. Compiled by Ceclia Griswold. H. D. Utley, New London, CT, 1950, 326.
- Caulkins, Frances Manwaring. History of New London, Connecticut: From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612 to 1860. Compiled by Ceclia Griswold. H. D. Utley, New London, CT, 1950, 102.
- Caulkins, Frances Manwaring. History of New London, Connecticut: From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612 to 1860. Compiled by Ceclia Griswold. H. D. Utley, New London, CT, 1950, 104
- Boylan, James R. and Haynes, Williams. Stonington Chronology 1649-1976: Being a Year-by-year Record of the American Way of Life. Stonington Historical Society. Pequot Press. ISBN 0-87106-059-0.
- Brown, John Howard. The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans. The Biographical Society, 1904.
- Ancestors of American Presidents: First Definitive Edition by Gary Boyd Roberts and Julie Helen Otto. 1995. ISBN 978-0-936124-19-3 (Grace Palmer, #129 in Grant's ahnentafel, was the daughter of Walter Palmer.)