Palmer, Nathaniel Brown, 1799-1877

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Nathaniel Brown Palmer was born on 8 August 1799 in Stonington, Connecticut. He went to sea in 1813, and was first employed in the coasting trade from Maine to New York. At the age of eighteen, he was given his first command of the schooner Gleaner, and in the following year, sailed as second mate aboard the sealing brig Hersilia on the United States Sealing Voyage (from Stonington), 1819-1820 (leader James Sheffield), in a search for new sealing grounds. The expedition searched for the Aurora Islands, found Shag Rocks and possibly Black Rock, and in January 1820, visited the Falkland Islands and South Shetland Islands, the first United States sealing vessel to reach the latter, which had only been discovered the previous year.

In the following season, Palmer commanded a sloop, Hero, on the United States sealing voyage (from Stonington), 1820-1821 (leader Benjamin Pendleton), returning as part of a fleet to the Falkland Islands, South Shetland Islands and Isla de los Estados. While the rest of the fleet hunted, Hero entered Deception Island to search for new sealing grounds. In November 1820, Palmer reported land to the south of Deception Island, which he explored, examining the area now known as Palmer Archipelago, but found no seals. Returning to the South Shetland Islands, he met the ships of the Russian Naval Expedition, 1819-1821 (leader Fabian Gottlieb Benjamin von Bellingshausen), off Deception Island, and discussed his findings with Bellingshausen.

The following year he commanded the sloop James Monroe on the United States Sealing Voyage (from Stonington), 1821-1822 (leader Benjamin Pendleton). Joining forces with George Powell of the British sealing voyage, 1821-1822 (from London), Palmer participated in the discovery and charting of the South Orkney Islands in December 1821.

Palmer made several later voyages between the United States and Europe. He returned to the South Shetland Islands on a final sealing voyage in the brig Annawan, in company with his brother Captain Alexander Palmer in the brig Penguin, on the United States Sealing Voyage (from New York and Stonington), 1829-1831 (leaders Nathaniel Brown Palmer and Benjamin Pendleton). Independent scientists who made biological and geological investigations and collections accompanied them on this voyage. Thereafter, he became a prosperous ship owner, contributing to the design and development of clipper ships trading to Europe, the Antipodes and China. He died on 21 June 1877 in San Francisco on his return from a trip to China.

From the guide to the Nathaniel Brown Palmer collection, 1820-1821, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Sperry, Armstrong, 1897-1976. South of Cape Horn : production material. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Crary, Joseph. Bond, ca. 1812. G. W. Blunt White Library
creatorOf Fanning, Nathaniel, 1755-1805. Nathaniel Fanning receipt, 1784 Oct. 13. New London County Historical Society
referencedIn Nathaniel Brown Palmer collection, 1820-1821 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Palmer-Loper Family Papers, 1667-1994, (bulk 1790-1930) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Hart, Ira. Palmer-Loper family papers, 1667-1994 (bulk 1790-1930). Library of Congress
creatorOf Nathaniel Brown Palmer collection, 1820-1821 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Harris Pendleton collection, 1821-1832 Scott Polar Research Institute
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Crary, Joseph. person
associatedWith Fanning, Nathaniel, 1755-1805. person
associatedWith Hero (Sloop) corporateBody
associatedWith Loper family family
associatedWith Nathaniel Brown Palmer person
associatedWith Palmer Alexander 1806-1894 person
associatedWith Palmer family family
associatedWith Pendleton, Harris person
associatedWith Pendleton Harris Captain person
associatedWith Sperry, Armstrong, 1897-1976. person
associatedWith United States Sealing Voyage South Atlantic 1820-1821 corporateBody
associatedWith United States Sealing Voyage South Atlantic 1829-1831 corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1799-08-08

Death 1877-06-21



Ark ID: w6s75n8q

SNAC ID: 66988472