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Clwyd FHS

Hel Achau

Alfred Neobard Palmer 1847-1915

by Stewart Blackwell & Bill Wynne-Woodhouse
(From Hel Achau, Issue 18, Spring 1986)

Alfred NeobardPalmerAlfred Neobard Palmer was born, 10th July, 1847, in Thetford, Norfolk, and was educated at the local grammar school, and a private academy. The latter was kept by Morgan Lloyd, a keen natural scientist who enthusiasm aroused Palmer's interest. After a brief spell as a Pupil Teacher at Cambridge, in 1863, Palmer became apprenticed to a druggist at Bury St. Edmunds. He was a research assistant at the Pharmaceutical London, 1873, and post as analytical Manchester, in contributed articles to the Pharmaceutical Journal, from 1875 onwards.

In 1878, he married Esther Francis, the daughter of a Caernarfonshire man, city surveyor at Manchester, a leading light in the Welsh community there. His interest in things Welsh began then but there is no evidence of any interest in Welsh history or genealogy, at this time, probably due to his pre-occupation with his career.

In 1880, after a period of ill-health, he came to Wrexham in September of that year, and his professional career of analytical chemist for various companies in the area was interspersed with periods of private practice and consultancy. Small legacies in 1892 and 1894 gave him a measure of independence. Within a year of his arrival he began the long series of publications on Wrexham and its area which are a lasting memorial to his scholarly research. The following bibliography is compiled from the biography in Transns. Denbighshire Historical Society, Vol. 15, 1966, pp. 216f f., by the late Professor A. H. Dodd, who was himself introduced to his life-long pursuit of local history by Palmer, and from a bibliographical letter by R. H. G. Smallwood, which appeared in the Wrexham Advertiser for March, 1915.

The list does not include Palmer's contributions to the RCHAM volumes on Denbighshire and Flintshire, following his appointment as an Assistant Inspector in 1910. His contributions to professional journals are not listed.

His diaries, from 1892 onwards are at the National Library.

His reduced circumstances led to the Award of a Civil List pension in 1904 of £50 a year, which was increased in 1908. He died on 6th March, 1915, and a plaque with his portrait in bas-relief was placed in Wrexham Library in 1922.

Alfred Neobard Palmer was an outstanding local historian, a meticulous genealogist and a giant of the past in his pioneering research in north-east Wales.

Year Title
1883 • The Town, Fields and Folk of 1900 Wrexham in the time of James I (following a lecture to the 1900 Wrexham Lit. & Sci. Society)
1885 • A History of Ancient Tenures in the Marches of North Wales
1886 • History of the Parish Church of Wrexham
1886 • Crofter Systems in the Western Isles of Scotland (Y Cymmrodor)
1887 • Modern Welsh Surnames (The Antiquary)
1887 • Transcripts of PRO documents (Unpublished in the National Library)
1887 • Articles in Arch. Cambriensis
1888 • The History of the Older Nonconformity of Wrexham and its Neighbourhood
1891 • Offa's and Wat's Dykes (Y Cymmrodor)
• The Later History of the Parish of Bangor Isycoed
1892 • Supplementary notes to above (Arch. Cambriensis)
1892 • Translation into English of Y Bard Cwsc (unpublished)
1892 • Some Welsh Place-names (Transns. Liverpool Welsh Society)
1892 • Recollections of My Life (MS)
1893 • History of the Town of Wrexham
1893-94 • Evidence to Royal Commission on Land in Wales
1896 • Notes on Ancient Welsh Measures of 1913 Land (Arch. Camb.)
1897 • Owen Tanat, a story of Welsh Life [unsuccessful novel - a so-called 2nd Edition was, in fact, the unsold stock, issued without his permission]
1899 • John Wilkinson and the Old Bersham Iron Works (Trans. Cymm.)
1900 • Morgan Lloyd (Morgan Llwyd o Wynedd) (publn. of an address)
1900 • The Broughtons of Marchwiel (Y Cymmrodor)
1901 • A Destroyed Building in Wrexham - The Old Hand Inn (Arch. Camb.)
1902 • Adventures of a Denbighshire Gentleman of the 17th c., in the East Indies - Capt. Roger Myddelton of Bodlith (Arch. Camb.)
1903-06 • North Wales Entries from the Calendar of the Committee for Impounding (Byeqones)
1903-05 • History of Gresford Township (Arch. Camb.)
1903 • History of the Country Townships of the Ancient Parish of Wrexham
1906 • History of the Townships of the Old Parish of Gresford (reprint from Arch. Camb.)
1907-09 • History of the Town of Holt (Arch. Camb.)
1909 • History of Ruabon Township (unpub. MSS in Wrexham Library and UCNW, Bangor)
1910 • History of the Town of Holt (reprint from Arch. Camb.)
1910 • 2nd Edition of The History of Ancient Tenures in collaboration with Edward Owen
1913 • Ancient Welsh Measures of Capacity (Arch. Camb.)
• John Lloyd's Norebooks, 1637-51 (Arch. Camb.)
• Relics of Ancient Field Systems of North Wales (Archaeology)
• Notes from the Registers of Erbistock (Arch. Camb.)
• A sepulchral Slab at Valle Crucis (Arch. Camb.)


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