Nathaniel Palmer

Nathaniel Brown Palmer (1799 - 1877)

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Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer
Born in Stonington, New London, Connecticut, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 7 Dec 1826 in Stonington, Connecticutmap
Died in San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified 28 Aug 2019 | Created 22 May 2011
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Genealogically Defined


Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer, the son of shipbuilder, Nath[anie]l, Jr. and his wife, Mercy, was born 08 Aug 1799, in Stonington.[1][2]


Nathaniel and Eliza Thompson Babcock were married on 07 Dec 1826, by Reverend Ira Hart, in the First Congregational Church of Stonington. They had no children. (See Research Note below.)[1][3]


There appears to be some confusion as to whether or not this Nathaniel Brown Palmer had children or not due to his nephew and namesake being listed on his FindAGrave Memorial as Nathaniel Brown Palmer 2nd. The later Nathaniel Brown Palmer was the son of this Nataniel Brown Palmer's brother, Alexander Smith Palmer. Note: a request for correction of the FindAGrave" Memorial was sent on 09 Feb 2018 by one person and on 10 Feb 2018 by T Counce.[4]

Excerpt from Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Walter Palmer:

"Nathaniel B. Palmer died in San Francisco while on his way home from a trip to China & his nephew Nathaniel B. died at sea on that trip"[5]

Excerpt from Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer:

After the death of his wife he became devoted to a nephew, who had been named for him, the son of his brother Alexander.[6]


Being the son of a shipbuilder, Nathaniel had the sea in his veins, so to speak, and at the age of twelve went to sea on the ships running the British blockade between Boston and Portland during the War of 1812.[7]
In 1819, he became the second mate on the Hersilia, in search of rookeries rumored to be teeming with seals. From his share of the profits, he purchased two sloops, the Express and the Hero, which he joined to a fleet of three other ships, and continued as Captain of the sealer vessels.[7]
While on board the Hero, which was better able to maneuver where the other ships could not, he discovered Deception Island, the Orleans Strait, and two good harbors at Half Moon Island and Yankee Harbor in the South Shetland Islands archipelago. He brought the rest of the fleet to Yankee Harbor.[7]
A Captain at the age of 21, Captain Palmer found himself and his crew between two Russian war ships. He showed them the way to Deception Island, and in return for the favor the Russians named the area Palmer Land on Russian charts. Today, the southern portion of the Antarctic Peninsula is officially known as the Palmer Land.[7]
More of Captain Palmer's fascinating and adventurous career can be found in Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer, An Old-Time Sailor of the Sea.[6]


In addition to having a portion of Antarctica named in his honor, and a ship named after him, a 25¢ US Postage Stamp was issued 11 Aug 1988.[8][9]


Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer passed away, in his San Francisco hotel room, while sleeping, on 21 Jun 1877, at the age of 78. He and his newphew were sent home to Stonington, Connecticut for burial and are buried together in Stonington Cemetery #15 (note:' this Cemetery is also known as Stonington Borough Cemetery & Evergreen Cemetery), in Stonington.[6][10][11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stonington. Connecticut Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.) From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928.
  2. "Connecticut Births and Christenings, 1649-1906," database, FamilySearch ( : 3 December 2014), Nathaniel B Palmer, 08 Aug 1799; citing ; FHL microfilm unknown.
  3. Wheeler, Richard A. (1875); History of the First Congregational Church, Stonington, Connecticut, 1674-1874; With The Report of Bi-Centennial Proceedings, 03 Jun 1874; With Appendix Containing Statistics of the Church.; T.H. Davis and Company, Norwich, Connecticut; PG 275; Retrieved from:
  4. FindAGrave Memorial #32895566 Retrieved from"
  5. Palmer, Elmer Hall, Compiler & Editor (2002); Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Walter Palmer of Charlestown, Seacuncke Plantation, Stonington Volume 1, 8 Generations; Walter Palmer Society; PG 354 (out of print, limited edition:
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Spears, John R. (1922); Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer, An Old-Time Sailor of the Sea; The MacMillan Company, New York, New York; PG 251-252-re; Newphew not son, All Pages for Captain Palmer; Retrieved from:
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 New England Historical Society (Last Update 2018); Nathaniel Palmer, Connecticut Mariner, Sort of Discovers Antarctica in 1820 ; NewEnglandHistoricalSociety web page; Retrieved from:
  8. Postal Bulletin PB 21685—August 11, 1988; Retrieved from"August%2011%201988"
  9. Picture of Stamp retrieved from:
  10. New York Deaths and Burials, 1795-1952, database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Nathanial B Palmer, 21 Jun 1877; citing San Francisco, San Francisco, California, reference pg 273; FHL microfilm 1,671,687.
  11. "Connecticut Deaths and Burials, 1772-1934," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), N. B. Palmer, 21 Jun 1877; citing , reference p 76; FHL microfilm 3,364.

More Interesting Information

  • The truth about what Nathaniel actually discovered when he discovered Deception Island, can be watched here (Starts at 4:15):

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Nathaniel by comparing test results with other carriers of his ancestors' Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA. Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree: It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Nathaniel:

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Comments: 2

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Note that the FAG site still lists one child, probably erroneously.
posted by John French Ph.D.
Palmer-4276 and Palmer-3755 appear to represent the same person because: Birth date, spouse, marriage date match.
posted by Nan (Lambert) Starjak

Nathaniel is 18 degrees from Donald Howard, 10 degrees from Julia Howe and 14 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.