Who was he?
John Palmer of Bath (1742 – 16 August 1818) was a theatre owner and
instigator of the British system of mail coaches that was the beginning
of the great British post office reforms with the introduction of an
efficient mail coach delivery service in Great Britain during the late
18th century. There is a plaque in the current Post Office
building. He was Mayor of Bath
on two occasions and Comptroller
General of the Post Office, and later served as Member of Parliament
for the constituency of Bath between 1801 and 1807.
Why was he in Bath?
Palmer was born in Bath, the son of a
brewer and tallow handler [candle maker], also called John. John Palmer
to join the army, his father
wanted him to join the church, so they settled for the brewery. [Flash 1982]
. John Palmer Senior had been
instrumental in founding the theatre
in Orchard Street
which opened in 1750. In 1764, he
the management of the company to his son.
In 1768, John Palmer Junior presented a petition
for a Royal Warrant for the Theatre, which was granted by special Act
Parliament. This enabled him to change the name of the establishment to
, a privilege
only enjoyed at that time by the two leading
theatres in Drury Lane and Covent Garden, making it the first
theatre to be given that honour.
In 1774, the theatre was redesigned. The architect for this work was
another John Palmer, who would be involved with the design of the
building that would replace Orchard Street
thirty years later. Because
of the theatre links, this John Palmer is often confused with the owner
of Orchard Street, as they were contemporaries in the city. However,
they were not the same person. In fact they were not even related,
either to each other or to yet another John Palmer, the London actor,
who occasionally appeared in productions at Orchard Street, and was
particularly noted for his portrayal of Joseph Surface in Sheridan’s
‘School for Scandal’. [Toogood 2010]
Location of plaque at 1, North Parade Buildings:
The text reads
"Here lived John Palmer b. 1741 d. 1818"
Location map of 1, North Parade Buildings:
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