Roundell Palmer, 1st Earl of Selborne

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Selborne
Lord Chancellor
In office
15 October 1872 – 17 February 1874
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by The Lord Hatherley
Succeeded by The Lord Cairns
In office
28 April 1880 – 9 June 1885
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by The Lord Cairns
Succeeded by The Lord Halsbury
Personal details
Born 27 November 1812 (1812-11-27)
Mixbury, Oxfordshire
Died 4 May 1895 (1895-05-05) (aged 82)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Liberal Unionist
Spouse(s) Lady Laura Waldegrave
Children 5
Alma mater University of Oxford
Religion Anglican

Roundell Palmer, 1st Earl of Selborne PC (27 November 1812 – 4 May 1895), was a British lawyer and politician. He served twice as Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.

Background and education

Selborne was born at Mixbury in Oxfordshire, where his father William Jocelyn Palmer was rector. His mother Dorothea was daughter of the Rev. William Roundell of Gledstone Hall, Yorkshire; and William Palmer and Edwin Palmer were his brothers.[1] He was educated at Rugby School and Winchester College. He graduated in 1834 from the University of Oxford, and received his master's degree in 1836. While at University he became a close friend of the hymn writer and theologian, Frederick William Faber. He was called to the bar in 1837.

Political career

Selborne entered parliament as a Conservative in 1847. He joined the Peelite Conservatives who were to eventually help create the Liberal party in 1859. He served under Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell as Solicitor General between 1861 and 1863 and as Attorney General between 1863 and 1866.

Under Gladstone, he became Lord Chancellor in 1872 and was created Baron Selborne, of Selborne in the County of Southampton. His first tenure in the office saw the passage of the Judicature Act of 1873, which completely reorganised the judiciary. He served in the same office in Gladstone's Second Cabinet (1880–1885), and was created Viscount Wolmer, of Blackmoor in the County of Southampton, and Earl of Selborne in 1882. He broke with Gladstone, however, over Irish Home Rule, in 1885, and joined the Liberal Unionists.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1860.[2]

Judicial Decisions

L'Union St. Jacques de Montreal v. Bélisle (1874), 6 L.R. P.C. 31, [1874] UKPC 53 (P.C.).


Selborne married Lady Laura, daughter of William Waldegrave, 8th Earl Waldegrave, in 1848. They had five children: four daughters followed by a son. Their eldest, Laura Elizabeth (1849–1939), was an author and social reformer, who in 1876 married George Ridding, the first bishop of Southwell, and became known as Lady Laura Ridding. Their second, Mary Dorothea (1850–1933), married her first cousin, the 9th Earl Waldegrave in 1874. Their third, Sophia Matilda (1852–1915) married the Comte de Franqueville in 1903. Their fourth, Sarah Wilfreda (1854–1910) married her second cousin George Tournay Biddulph, the son of Robert Biddulph, in 1883.[3] Their youngest, William Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne, later became a prominent Unionist politician. Lady Selborne died in April 1885. Lord Selborne survived her by ten years and died in May 1895, aged 82.


  • Palmer, Roundell (November 1886). A Defence of the Church of England Against Disestablishment (1 ed.). London. OCLC 57501388.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> 2nd ed. (London, December 1886), 3rd ed. (London, March 1887), 4th ed. (London, February 1888)
  • Palmer, Roundell (1888). Ancient facts and fictions concerning churches and tithes. London ; New York: Macmillan. LCCN 03002193. OCLC 60714511.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Selborne Memorials (London, 1896–98)
    • Palmer, Roundell (1896). Memorials. Part 1, Family and personal, 1766–1865. I. London ; New York: Macmillan. OCLC 277580024.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    • Palmer, Roundell (1896). Memorials. Part 1, Family and personal, 1766–1865. II. London ; New York: Macmillan. OCLC 277580029.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    • Palmer, Roundell (1898). Memorials, Part II. Personal and Political. I. London ; New York: Macmillan. OCLC 831400848.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    • Palmer, Roundell (1898). Memorials, Part II. Personal and Political. II. London ; New York: Macmillan. OCLC 277583879.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1.  [ "Palmer, William (1811-1879)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Lists of Royal Society Fellows 1660–2007". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Lady Laura Ridding (1919). Sophia Matilda Palmer, comtesse de Franqueville, 1852–1915: a memoir. John Murray. p. 5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Gill
Viscount Ebrington
Member of Parliament for Plymouth
With: Viscount Ebrington
Succeeded by
Charles John Mare
Robert Collier
Preceded by
Charles John Mare
Robert Collier
Member of Parliament for Plymouth
With: Robert Collier
Succeeded by
James White
Robert Collier
Preceded by
Henry Rich
Marmaduke Wyvill
Member of Parliament for Richmond
With: Marmaduke Wyvill to 1865
John Dundas 1865–66
Marmaduke Wyvill from 1866
Succeeded by
Lawrence Dundas
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir William Atherton
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Collier
Preceded by
Sir William Atherton
Attorney General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Cairns
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Hatherley
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
The Lord Cairns
Preceded by
The Earl Cairns
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
The Lord Halsbury
Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley
Rector of the University of St Andrews
Succeeded by
Sir Theodore Martin
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Selborne
Succeeded by
William Palmer
Earl of Selborne
Viscount Wolmer