Born: November 27, 1812, Mixbury, Oxfordshire, England.
Died: May 4, 1895, Blackmoor, England.
Buried: St. Matthew’s, Blackmoor, Hampshire, England: memorial in the nave, grave in the churchyard.
Roundell was the son of William Jocelyn Palmer, rector of Mixbury. His mother Dorothea was the daughter of minister William Roundell of Gledstone Hall, Yorkshire. Hymnist William Palmer was his brother.
Roundell was educated at Rugby School, Winchester College, and the University of Oxford. At Oxford, he began at Christ Church, moving to Trinity College upon receiving a scholarship, and became a Fellow of Magdalen College. He graduated BA in 1834, MA in 1836. While at the University, he became a close friend of hymnist Frederick Faber.
Palmer was called to the bar in 1837. He entered parliament as a Conservative in 1847. He joined the Peelite Conservatives who eventually helped create the Liberal party in 1859. He served under Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell as Solicitor General (1861–63) and as Attorney General (1863–66).
Under Gladstone, he became Lord Chancellor in 1872 and became 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 reorganized the judiciary. He served in the same office in Gladstone’s Second Cabinet (1880–85), and was made Viscount Wolmer, of Blackmoor in the County of Southampton, and Earl of Selborne in 1882.
He broke with Gladstone over Irish Home Rule in 1885, and joined the Liberal Unionists.
Palmer was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1860.