H. James Palmer
Premier for 1911
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H. JAMES PALMER WAS born in Charlottetown on August 26, 1851, the son of Edward Palmer, a
distinguished Prince Edward Islander.
Palmer's grandfather, a lawyer, from Dublin, Ireland, settled in this province in 1802 and his father, Edward Palmer, was a Father of Confederation, having attended the first meeting of the Fathers of Confederation in Charlottetown in 1864. He also served as a Chief Justice of the Province.
H. James Palmer received his early education in the schools of Charlottetown, Prince of Wales College and King's College in Nova Scotia. Following in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather he went into law and studied for a number of years in his father's law office. He was admitted to the bar of Prince Edward Island in 1876 and quickly earned a reputation as one of the finest barristers on Prince Edward Island. This reputation was recognized in 1878 when he was named a Queen's Counsel.
James Palmer's father, Edward, served in the legislature of Prince Edward Island for a total of thirty-eight years, for a number of which he was Premier and later Attorney-General, and it is not surprising that the family interest in politics was soon apparent in the son. He stood for election for the Liberal Party in the Fort Augustus district in 1900 and won his seat. Except between 1904 and 1908, he remained a sitting member until 1911 and during this period he often filled the post of Attorney-General, in the absence of the Premier. In May of 1911, Premier F.L. Haszard was elevated to the post of Justice of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island and Palmer was called upon to form the government. Just seven months after becoming Premier of the Province, Palmer with F.J. Nash ran the two by-elections required by our constitution and after losing both, he resigned and John A. Mathieson became Premier on December 2, 1911.
Following his resignation in 1911, James Palmer retired from public life and returned to his law practice. He continued to work as a lawyer until his death on December 22, 1939, having been a member of the Bar of Prince Edward Island for sixty-three years.
He is buried in the Sherwood Cemetery in Charlottetown.