PALMER Surname Meaning and Family History

The origin of the Palmer surname has ties to palm branches.
Robert Cravens / Getty Images

From the Middle English and Old French palmer or paumer, taken from palme meaning "palm tree." Palmer or Parmer was often a nickname for someone who had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and brought back a palm branch as proof that they had actually made the journey.

Palmer can also be a geographical German surname for someone living among the pussy willows or palms, from the Middle High German palme, balme, meaning "pussy willow" or "palm tree."

Surname Origin: English, German, Dutch


Famous People with the PALMER Surname

  • A. Mitchell Palmer - U.S. attorney general under Woodrow Wilson responsible for launching the Palmer Raids
  • Arnold Palmer - American champion golfer
  • Robert Palmer - British singer songwriter
  • Keke Palmer - American actress and singer
  • Austin Norman Palmer - Author of the Palmer Method of penmanship
  • Edward Palmer - British botanist
  • Henry Spencer Palmer - British Army military engineer and surveyor

Where is the PALMER Last Name Most Common?

Palmer, according to surname data from Forebears, is most common in the United States where it ranks as the 155th most common surname in the country. It is very common in England, where it ranks 80th, as well as New Zealand (114th) and Australia (125th). The surname is fairly evenly distributed around England, but ranks highest in Norfolk (15th), Somerset (15th), Cambridgeshire (19th) and Leicestershire (22nd).

WorldNames PublicProfiler has the Palmer surname as most commonly found in the United Kingdom, with the greatest numbers clustered in Norfolk County and around the city of Birmingham.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname PALMER

100 Most Common U.S. Surnames & Their Meanings
Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown... Are you one of the millions of Americans sporting one of these top 100 common last names from the 2000 census?

Palmer Surname DNA Project
A central site for all Palmer descendants who want to participate in Family Tree DNA testing to learn about their Palmer ancestors and where and who they came from.

Palmer Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Palmer family crest or coat of arms for the Palmer surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

PALMER Family Genealogy Forum
Free message board is focused on descendants of Palmer ancestors around the world.

FamilySearch - PALMER Genealogy
Explore over 4.5 million historical records which mention individuals with the Palmer surname, as well as online Palmer family trees on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

PALMER Surname Mailing List
Free mailing list for researchers of the Palmer surname and its variations includes subscription details and a searchable archives of past messages. - PALMER Genealogy & Family History
Free databases and genealogy links for the last name Palmer.

GeneaNet - Palmer Records
GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Palmer surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.

The Palmer Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Palmer from the website of Genealogy Today.

References: Surname Meanings & Origins

Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.

Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.

Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

>> Back to Glossary of Surname Meanings & Origins

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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "PALMER Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo, Sep. 22, 2021, Powell, Kimberly. (2021, September 22). PALMER Surname Meaning and Family History. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "PALMER Surname Meaning and Family History." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).