George Palmer

Reproduced by kind permission of © Reading Borough Council (Reading Museum Service)

In office from: 1833 - 1834

Background: Merchant shipowner

It was Palmer's position as the first chairman of the General Shipowners' Society, a body instrumental in calling for reform of the two registers, that made him an ideal candidate to become Chairman of the Provisional Committee which brought about the reconstituted Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping. On his resignation in April 1834 he gave his thanks to his fellow committee members 'for their regular and persevering attendance and for their friendly and able support in the performance of so important and arduous activity as the selection and appointment of proper and efficient surveyors'.

A partner in the profitable family business of East India merchants based in the City of London, he gained his experience of shipping from the substantial fleet of sailing ships run by the firm. He continued to play an influential role in shipping - many of his ideas were incorporated in the legislation which standardised the way in which the capacity of a ship was measured and, as a Member of Parliament from 1836 until 1847, he chaired two inquiries into shipwrecks and successfully pressed for timber-laden ships to be banned from carrying deck cargoes. 

He died on 12 May 1853 at Nazing (later Nazeing) Hall, the family home near Epping.

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Safety at sea

George Palmer used his influence within Parliament to promote safety at sea. A member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and its vice-chairman for 25 years, he designed a class of lifeboat which remained in use until 1858.