Bitton Families



by Emma

PALMER is an English name first recorded in the 13th century and said to be given to pilgrims returning from the holy land. The name also has German origins and was the name given to those living amongst the palms or pussy willow trees. From the 13th century, PALMERs are recorded further afield in Gloucestershire, in and around Tetbury, Tytherington, and Upton St Leonards, although I do not know of a link between these PALMERs and the Bitton PALMERs. According to the 1891 census of England and Wales, 3% of the 36,239 PALMERs at the time lived in Gloucestershire.

There are many PALMERs recorded in the parish of Bitton from the 1500s. My earliest known definite family link originates with my 5x great grandfather, Daniel PALMER, a Smelter from Bitton in the late 1700s. The descendents of Daniel remained in Bitton parish (at Kingswood Hill) for two generations before moving to Staple Hill and Fishponds in north east Bristol, where many of the family remained until the mid 20th century.



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Daniel PALMER and Elizabeth BAILY
Before looking at Daniel PALMER and his descendents, it is worth mentioning the possible parents of Daniel, another Daniel PALMER and Elizabeth BAILY. Daniel and Elizabeth were married at St Mary's, Bitton on 7 August, 1749. According to his will proved in 1788 [See PALMER Wills], Daniel (senior) is an Inn Keeper married to Elizabeth, and they are living and landowning in the hamlet of Oldland, parish of Bitton. Their sons are John, Daniel and William. They must also have a daughter, as a reference is made to Isaac GOFF, son in law.

Daniel PALMER and Hester MEAD
Daniel PALMER, my 5x great grandfather, was born in approximately 1760 and married Hester MEAD in Bitton St Mary’s on 9 September 1782. According to Daniel PALMER's will (held at the Gloucestershire archives), proved in 1821 [see PALMER wills], (and supported by parish records), he and Hester had the following children:
Sarah Palmer b 1783 wife of Daniel DEMERY, (also a smelter)
Stephen Palmer b 1785  
Thomas Palmer b 1786 mentioned in parish records but not in Daniel's will
Mary Palmer b 1788 wife of Robert NOTT of Bitton, wire drawer
Elizabeth Palmer   wife of George PACKER, Pin manufacturer
Dinah Palmer b 1798  
Daniel Palmer    
Charlotte Palmer b 1803  

Stephen born in 1785 is my 4x great grandfather. He and his siblings were baptised at different times. Four of Daniel and Hester's children (Sarah, Stephen, Daniel and Thomas) were baptised on 20 October 1799, at Hanham Abbotts Chapel (known as St Georges today) Charlotte PALMER was baptised on 30 June 1811. On 14 July 1811, Mary and Dinah were baptised.

Mary is shown as 'Mary NOTT', daughter of Hester and Daniel in the baptism records. Her husband, Robert was buried on 10 July 1808, aged 23. On 3 July 1808, a Joseph NOTT was buried, son of Robert and Mary, presumably their son, so she has already been widowed and lost her first child by the time of her own baptism.

Stephen PALMER and Hannah GANE
Stephen, Daniel PALMER's second born son was my 4x great grandfather. He married Hannah GANE on 24 June 1804 at Bitton St Mary's. According to the 1841 census, Stephen is a mason living on Kingswood Hill, the area now known as Kingswood (I used to assume Kingswood Hill was Hill Street, but was corrected by an 1833 map of the Hamlet of Oldland held at the Bristol Record Office.)

Stephen and Hannah had the following children: Harriot (b 1805) and Samuel (birth unknown). July 1808 must have been a grim month for the Palmer family, as both Harriot and Samuel died, and according to Hanham Abbotts records, were buried on 3 July 1808. This was at the same time as Stephen's brother in law, Robert NOTT and nephew died (see above). It also confirms a family story that the family were affected by the Black Death in the early 1800s.

Stephen and Hannah went to on to have: George (b 1811), William (b 1813) and Stephen (b 1816) who were all baptised as grown up children at Kingswood Holy Trinity, in April 1831. Stephen and Hannah also had Mary (b 1826), Thomas (also b 1826), Robert (b 1828) and Hannah (b 1831), according to the 1841 census. In this census, Sarah DEMERY (nee PALMER), Stephen’s sister, is shown living a few doors away.

Stephen PALMER and Hannah GARLAND
Stephen, the third surviving son of Stephen (senior) was my 3x great grand father. He leaves Bitton, moving to the parish of Stapleton, living in Fishponds for the rest of his life. Stephen marries Hannah GARLAND at St James, Bristol on 12 March 1834. For more information about the GARLAND family, going back to my 7x great grandparents, John GARLAND and Hannah HOBBS who were married in Bitton in 1724, see chart 2 in the Garland on the Creative Graces website [link from Researcher Mark]:

At the time of the 1841 census Stephen is shown as a baker living on Ridgeway (the old name for Fishponds Road), Fishponds in the parish of Stapleton. Stephen and Hannah remain in Fishponds, running their own grocery business somewhere near the current day 'Red Lion' pub on Fishponds Road.

Stephen and Hannah have the following children:
Ann b c 1840  
Francis b c 1842 Married Mary Ann Hatch and followed in his father’s footsteps as a grocer in Fishponds. Their children were: Albert E, Mary Ann (Pollie), Henry (Harry), Frank Bertrand, Robert and Minnie. I believe that Albert, Harry and Frank ended up founding ‘Palmer Bros Biscuits’ based on Fishponds Road from the 1890s until the 1970s.
Robert b c1845 see below
Alfred b c 1849 Married Emily SPERRING and started his own bakers/confectioners shop in Fishponds and Downend. Their children were: Stephen, Fred, Charles Alfred, Ernest and Hannah. The family continued the family business tradition, running a bakery together in Staple Hill.
Eliza b c 1851 Eliza married Aaron Purdy BUSH, a butcher, according to the 1871 census. They lived in Fishponds and had a son, Arthur BUSH, born in 1875. Aaron died at the age of 20 and she re-married James E COX, of Coaley, Gloucestershire. They had a son, also a James A E COX, born in 1860.
James b c 1854 Married Hannah PURDY in 1875 in Fishponds. James had a bakery and grocery shop in Winterborne Down, Gloucestershire. They had the following children: John, Hannah (both of whom died as very young babies), Florence Albina, James, William and Hilda. James and Hannah are buried in St Mary's, Fishponds in Bristol. More information about this family can be found on the following Frenchay Museum Archives site [on our Links page]
Samuel b c 1856 He died on 8 October 1878, aged 22, and is buried in St Mary's Fishponds, with Samuel BUSH, who died on 3 March 1875, aged 21 and also Victory Purdy BUSH, brother of Samuel, who died 9 April 188? Aged 38 years. There seem to be links between the PALMER, BUSH and PURDY families in this generation.
Clara b c1858 Clara seems to have lived with her parents and never married

Robert PALMER and Maria NICHOLS
Robert, the third child of Stephen and Hannah, was my 2x great grandfather. He married Maria NICHOLS at St Mary's Fishponds in 1873. Maria NICHOLS was born in Australia, the daughter of James NICHOLS, a mason from Frenchay and Elizabeth WATSON from Frome. Both are buried in St Mary's, Fishponds.

Robert, Maria and their family spent their lives at 'Rock House' Staple Hill (now replaced by a modern office building opposite the Red Lion in Staple Hill). They ran a grocery shop, a market garden, and for a short time owned the Fir Tree pub. Robert, Maria and some of their children are buried in Christchurch, Downend. They had the following children, nearly all of whom stayed in the north east Bristol area, some continuing the Palmer family businesses in Staple Hill
Ernest Robert b 25 Jan 1874, died 25 Feb 1874, aged 4 weeks
Francis Stephen b 15 February 1880, died 30 March 1880, aged 6 weeks
Lottie Maria b 15 Feb 1880, died 8Sep 1880, aged 6 months
Walter Robert b 6 Mar 1875, died 16 Dec 1957. Married Nellie POWELL
Nelly Elizabeth b 12 Sep 1876, died 23 Apr 1944. Married Fred FORWARD
Lewis George b 22 Mar 1878, died 5 Ju 1950. Married Lily SMITH
Leonard James b 20 Jul 1881, died c 1975. Married Winifred FRY
Willie Preston b 11 May 1883, died 1966 (see below)
Amy Maria b 24 Jan 1885, died c 1965. Married George WATKINS
Arthur Henry b 7 Jan 1887, died 23 Jul 1946. Married Florence WOOD
George Samuel b 12 September1888, died 1 Feb 1961. Married Gertrude NEWMAN
Harold Wilford Palmer b 19 October 1891.
Elsie Mary Palmer b 8 October 1895, died 1993. Married Edward HILLIER

Willie Preston PALMER and Annie DAWSON
Willie PALMER, my great grandfather, was the fourth surviving son of Robert and Maria, and married Annie DAWSON in February 1907 at Christchurch, Downend. Annie was also from Staple Hill, where her father, Thomas DAWSON, also ran a bakery. The DAWSON family were originally from the Forest of Dean area.

Willie PALMER was a maths and science graduate and teacher at Fairfield Grammar School in Bristol. He and Annie lived in Sea Mills Lane, Sea Mills, for many years, before retiring to Sidmouth in Devon.

Annie and Willie had three children: Cyril Willie (my grandfather) born in 1908, Grace, born in 1909 and Eric, born in 1912. Grace married in later life (into the BUDGETT family), Eric never married, and neither of them had children.

Cyril Willie PALMER and Nora Phyllis GARBUTT

Cyril, my grandfather, married Nora GARBUTT, also from north Bristol, in 1935. They had a son, John Dawson PALMER, my father, in 1936. Cyril was sadly killed in action in the second world war, aged 36.

Descendents from this Palmer line continue to live in Bristol and Somerset.

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