William Palmer (theologian)

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William Palmer
William Patrick Palmer

(1803-02-14)14 February 1803
DiedOctober 1885 (aged 81–82)
London, England
Sophia Bonne
(m. 1839; died 1872)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Anglican)
ChurchChurch of England
Academic background
Alma mater
InfluencesCharles Lloyd[1]
Academic work
School or traditionHigh-church Anglicanism[2]
InstitutionsWorcester College, Oxford[3]

William Patrick Palmer (1803–1885), who called himself Sir William Palmer, 9th Baronet, from 1865 (although his claim to the title was never acknowledged), was an Anglican theologian and liturgical scholar of the 19th century.


Born 14 February 1803,[4] Palmer graduated from Worcester College, Oxford. He was an early supporter and influence in the Oxford Movement, but was superseded by John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey. Palmer initially supported the Tracts for the Times, but as opposition to the Oxford Movement grew, he withdrew his support, prompting a cooling in his friendship with Newman and a slow decline in his involvement with the movement.[2] Palmer died in October 1885 in London.[2]


Palmer was author of the Origines Liturgicæ and Treatise on the Church of Christ (1838).[2] The latter formulated the notion, called the "Branch Theory" that, provided that both the apostolic succession, and the Faith of the Apostles are kept intact, then there the Church exists, albeit in one of its branches. This was applied to the Anglican Church.



  1. ^ Andrews 2015, p. 23.
  2. ^ a b c d Nockles 2004.
  3. ^ Douglas 2012, p. 560; Lebreux 1998, p. 7.
  4. ^ Nockles 2004; Rigg 1895, pp. 168–169.


  • Andrews, Robert M. (2015). Lay Activism and the High Church Movement of the Late Eighteenth Century: The Life and Thought of William Stevens, 1732–1807. Brill's Series in Church History. Vol. 70. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004293793. ISBN 978-90-04-29379-3. ISSN 1572-4107.
  • Douglas, Brian (2012). A Companion to Anglican Eucharistic Theology. Volume 1: The Reformation to the 19th Century. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004221321. ISBN 978-90-04-21930-4.
  • Lebreux, Marie-Pascale (1998). William Palmer of Magdalen College: An Ecclesiastical Don Quixote (MA thesis). Montreal: McGill University. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  • Nockles, Peter B. (2004). "Palmer, William Patrick (1803–1885)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21225.
  • Rigg, James McMullen (1895). "Palmer, William (1803–1885)" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 43. New York: Macmillan and Co. pp. 168–170.

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