Death of Dr William Mortlock Palmer

William Mortlock Palmer MD, FSA
Taken from a newspaper cutting, date unknown
The former Charing Cross Hospital, The Strand, London where William Mortlock Palmer trained and later worked
The Palmer family photographed outside the summer house at Old Elmcroft (now Temple House), Meldreth c. 1909. William Mortlock Palmer is the tall figure, back row, right.
Photograph courtesy of Robert Elbourn
The New Congregational Chapel, Melbourn, built in the mid 1850s and demolished 100 years later. It would have been in use at the time of Dr. W. M. Palmer's funeral, 1939.

The life of Dr William Mortlock Palmer, JP, FSA is featured elsewhere on this site. When he died following a cerebral haemorrhage on Thursday October 19th, 1939 at the age of 73, an account of his funeral together with some of his many achievements  appeared in the Cambridge Independent Press for 27th October 1939.

‘Born at Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, in 1866, the second son of Mr George Palmer, he was educated at Victoria House School and at the age of 15 was apprenticed to the late Alderman Campkin, chemist of Cambridge. (Note: a well-known business of this name continues to operate on King’s Parade in Cambridge. Campkins was originally a pharmacy with premises on Rose Crescent but later began to sell camera equipment and now specialises exclusively in photography). On leaving, at 21, he entered Charing Cross Hospital as a medical student. After qualifying M.R.C.S. (Eng), L.R.C.P. (Lond) and L.S.A. in 1892 he was, for a while, Resident Obstetric Officer at Charing Cross Hospital. For a number of years he acted as boat surgeon for the P&O Company. In 1900 he took over a practice at Linton, from which he retired in 1925 but continued to live at Linton. In 1907 he took the degree of M.D. (Durham).

During the last war, besides running a practice of many miles’ radius round Linton, he was Medical Officer to the Cambridgeshire V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) 16 Hospital and of the Prisoners of War Camp at Linton, receiving medals both from our own and the Belgian Government for his services.’

At Linton

‘At Linton he identified himself very prominently with village and county life. He was Chairman of the Linton Parish Council, President of the Cricket Club, a County Council manager of the Church School and a manager of the Village College … He will be missed by the children of the village, to whom he regularly gave an annual tea in his grounds, with prizes following a wildflower competition. He took a kindly interest in the old people of the Institution (otherwise known as the Linton Union Workhouse), whom he visited every Sunday with hardly any break. He joined the Cambridge Antiquarian Society in 1901 and for the greater part of his time he served on the Council of the Society and (produced) numerous papers. He also edited for them a number of volumes, the most important being the “Monumental Inscriptions of Cambridgeshire”, 1932. Other works were “William Cole of Milton”, 1935 and the “History of Burrough Green”, only recently issued. He was a foundation member of the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Archaeological Society, to whose proceedings he also contributed many papers.’

Address of Thanks

‘In 1931 he received an address of thanks from the Cambridge Town Council after the publication of his volume, “Cambridge Borough Documents.” His services as a lecturer for such places as the Cambridge Borough Library were in great demand … In 1933 Dr Palmer was appointed a J.P. for the County of Cambridge and sat on the Linton Bench. In 1935 he was given an honorary M.A. by the University of Cambridge and was invited to become a member of Pembroke College.’

Funeral at Melbourn

‘There was a large gathering at the funeral, which took place at the Melbourn Congregational Church on Tuesday afternoon, the burial being conducted in the churchyard. The service was conducted by the Rev. J. G. Davis, Congregational minister at Melbourn and Mr Seymour Samuels was the organist. The bricked grave was lined with laurel, white, yellow and bronze chrysanthemums and Cape gooseberries, while the coffin was of plain panelled oak, with elm shell. The breastplate bore the inscription: “William Mortlock Palmer, born February 25th, 1866, died October 19th, 1939.” The immediate mourners were: Misses M., G., and E. Palmer (sisters), Mr. B. Palmer and Mr C.U. Palmer (brothers), Mr. J. Palmer (nephew), Mrs. D. Marr (niece) and Mr. D. Marr, Mrs. D. Elbourn (niece) and Mr. D. Elbourn, Miss P. Palmer (nephew), Mrs. G. Palmer (sister-in-law) and Mrs. S. Kilbourn (housekeeper).’  Others present included residents of Linton, Alderman A. A. Spalding (Mayor of Cambridge), Alderman E. Saville Peck (Deputy Mayor), representatives of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, Mr. W. Winter (Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire), representatives of the Cambridge and County Folk Museum, the University Library and the County Library, Prof. E. H. Mimms (representing Pembroke College), Mr. Louis Clarke (Fitzwilliam Museum), Miss. O’Riley (Girton College), Mr. E. G. G. Frost (vice chairman of the Linton Bench) and many others in a private capacity. Messrs. G. A. Ward and Sons, Melbourn, carried out the funeral arrangements.’

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