1983-Sep-pg72_Election of a Member of Parliament for Somerset, 1699

1983-Sep-pg72_Election of a Member of Parliament for Somerset, 1699

This article came from the Chronicle published Sep 1983. Page 72




1699 ‘Itt. paid the Ringers upon ye Election of Mr Palmer Knight of the Shire – – 6s. 0d.

Although, on the face of it, this extract from Yeovil Churchwardens’ Accounts, would seem to indicate nothing more than a celebration, of the election of a Member of Parliament for the County, in fact the ringing, evinced a much deeper feeling.

Nathaniel Palmer, who was born at Fairfield, Stogursey, about 1656, had already been M.P. for Minehead from 1685 to 1687, had represented Bridgwater in the Parliament of 1688-9, together with Sir Edward Phelips. was M.P. for the county from 1690 to 1695, and again represented Bridgwater from 1695 to 1698. Elected once more for the county in 1699 – the occasion recorded in the churchwardens’ accounts – he continued to represent Somerset until 1708, and then, finally, as Bridgwater’s M.P. from 1710 until 1713.

The reason for his popularity among churchmen stemmed from his having been one of the deputy lieutenants for the county removed from office during the reign of James the Second for refusing to subscribe to the king’s endeavour to remove the penal laws which forbade Roman Catholics and Dissenters to hold public offices, though he did not object to James’s declaration ‘for liberty of conscience by living friendly with those of all persuasions as subjects of the same prince as good Christians ought to do’.

When William the Third, as Prince of Orange, landed at Brixham in 1688 and proceeded to Exeter, Palmer was among those who signed the declaration in the Prince’s favour, which was then and there presented to him. As is well known, James fled the country and William and his wife, Mary, who was James’s eldest child, became joint sovereigns. Palmer was subsequently reappointed deputy lieutenant in 1691, and again in 1701. Butt, it was his return as ‘Knight of the Shire’, i.e. as one of the two representatives of the county in Parliament, which was the cause of St. John’s ringers enthusiastically celebrating the event in 1699.