Herbert James Palmer

Herbert James Palmer

Served during the following dates: 1900-12-13; 1908-11-18

PALMER, Q,C., HERBERT JAMES, lawyer and director; b. 26 August 1851 in Charlottetown, son of Edward P. Palmer and Isabella Phoebe Tremain; m. 19 October 1880 Ada Millicent Patena, and they had five children, Helen Isabel, Beatrice Adele, Philip Errol, Harold Leonard, and Charles Nevill Tremain; Anglican; d. 22 December 1939 in Charlottetown.
 Palmer, a Liberal, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in the general election of 1900 for 3rd Queen's. He was re-elected in the general election of 1908. He was defeated in the general election of 1904, and in a by-election held 15 November 1911. The by-election, one of two held on the same date, came about due to Palmer’s acceptance of the office of premier earlier in the year to replace Francis L. Haszard*, who was appointed to the Supreme Court. Palmer served as Attorney- General after the death of Premier Arthur Peters* in 1908.
 In May 1911, upon Haszard’s move to the Court, Palmer inherited a Liberal party that had been in power for more than 20 years. It had become unpopular and held only a small majority. Palmer was called upon to form the government. Seven months later, Palmer and fellow Liberal F. J. Nash’1 contested two by-elections, required by the constitution, and both were defeated. Due to the by-election results, the Conservatives became the new government. John Alexander Mathieson*, the Conservative leader, immediately called an election. In the 1912 general election, Mathieson defeated the Palmer-led Liberals. The 28-2 victory was historic as it marked the first Conservative triumph in a general election since 1890, and the first Conservative government since 1891. After years in power, the Liberal government had lost the approval of the electorate, and the provincial Conservatives were viewed as having more influence with the Conservative federal government.
 Palmer attended local schools in Charlottetown, later studying at Prince of Wales College and King’s College in Windsor, Nova Scotia. In 1872 and 1873, he studied law in his father’s office, and upon his father’s appointment to the County Court he moved to the office of Palmer and MacLeod, where Robert Shaw* also studied. Palmer was admitted to the Bar in 1876 as an attorney, the same year he became a notary. In 1877 he became a barrister, and joined the partnership Palmer, MacLeod and MacLeod. In 1891 Palmer established his own legal practice and was designated Queen’s Counsel in 1898. Following his political career, Palmer returned to the practice of law, and for a time practised with Michael Farmer"'. He was appointed a director of the Prince Edward Island Telephone Company. H. James Palmer continued to practise law until his death on 22 December 1939.
 Palmer’s father, Edward D. Palmer, was Chief Justice of Prince Edward Island and a Father of Confederation. Palmer’s mother was a native of Quebec, and the daughter of Charles Patena.

References: CPG 1909, 1912; MacDonald If You're Stronghearted p. 52; Premiers Gallery; Patriot 23 December 1939; PARO: MNI-Census 1881, 1891; St. Paul’s Anglican Church Records; Sherwood Cemetery Records. Guide to abbreviations

Photograph courtesy of PEI Public Archives and Records Office, Reference Number Acc3177/5