John Palmer immigrated to Georgia from Great Britain as a soldier with James Oglethorpe’s forces under the auspices of the London Board of Trustees in 1736. He was first recorded as a “soldier” in 1736 in a list of the original settlers of St. Simons Island and the soldiers stationed at the Fort by General James Oglethorpe.. As the supplemental troops that returned with Oglethorpe in 1736 were drawn from the either the Scottish Highlander’s 42nd Regiment of Foot or the Gibraltarians [a Scottish regiment stationed in Gibraltar], John was probably Scottish. He was 16.
The following was written by Margaret Davis Cate regarding the Palmer family:
“When Oglethorpe brought the settlers to Frederica, St. Simons Island, Georgia he immediately gave them garden lots and encouraged them to plant crops in order to secure for themselves an adequate supply of food stuffs so as to avoid the famine which was the fate of practically all new settlements.
In 1738, when Oglethorpe’s Regiment of 650 British soldiers, with their wives and children, landed on St. Simons Island, the need for a supply of food was greatly increased. Oglethorpe gave each of the soldiers who offered to plant a plot of ground sufficient for his needs. Since the soldiers were “ignorant of the soil and climate” he named Richard Oldner to assist them in this work.
Oldner was a Frederica settler and was described as “an experienced planter”. To give further encouragement, Oglethorpe offered “a Bounty of two Shillings per Bushel for all Indian Corn, and one Shilling per Bushel for all Potatoes, ...over and above what they could sell it for after next Harvest.” General Oglethorpe seemed pleased with the results of his agricultural program and wrote, “The Soldiers hold the Spade in one hand & the Sword in the other & both Successfully.”
John was a sheriff in early Glenn County history.
In the list of solders who were paid a bounty for the 1741- 42 season is the name of John Palmer. His land was at the “South Point” of St. Simons Island near the site of Fort St. Simons [see map below].
Margaret Cate also wrote, "In 1748 the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle brought an end to the War of Jenkins’ Ear; the following year Oglethorpe’s Regiment was disbanded. Three hundred of these soldiers remained in uniform and served in three companies, known as South Carolina Independent Companies. John Palmer was a soldier in the Company commanded by Capt. Alexander Heron and, later, by Capt. George Cadogan and Capt. Thomas Goldsmith. While serving in the South Carolina Independent Company it is evident that he enjoyed the advantages offered at nearby Charles Town. A 1750 “List of the Members of the Charles Town Library Society” includes the name of John Palmer, along with that of Capt. Alexander Heron and Dr. George Milligan . . . three former members of Oglethorpe’s Regiment.JohnPalmer died in South Carolina. On August 16, 1760 Benjamin Smith was named to administer his estate.”
Posted on the wall of the Ft. Frederica Museum
Kathy Auman notes that the early records indicate that there may have been two John Palmers involved with the early Oglethorpe settlement and Ms. Cate did not indicate her reasons for concluding that the John Palmer who died in SC in 1760 was the actual ancestor of this clan. There was also a John Palmer/Oglethorpe soldier who was killed in St. Augustine, FL before 1760 who may have been the actual father of Martin.
Kathy’s doubts about this John Palmer being the father of Martin Palmer is eloquently explored by Margaret Jones in an article originally published in the Coastal Georgia Genealogical Society Newsletter entitled “Elegant Impasse”.
Derivations of the name are Palmer, Palmar, Paumier. The first references to the name are Sagar Palmer in 1176 in the Pipe Rolls for Devonshire; Wiger le Palmer in 1191 in the Pipe Rolls for Leicestershire; Richard le Paumere in 1198 in the Feet of Fines for Middlesex. Derived from the old French palmer, paumer ‘palmer, pilrim to the Holy Land’, so called from the palm-branch he carried.