(1803–85), Tractarian theologian. Of Irish extraction, he graduated at Trinity College, Dublin, before coming to Oxford. From 1831 he was attached to Worcester College. His Origines Liturgicae (1832), a learned treatise on the history of the English liturgy, brought him into relations with J. H. Newman, H. J. Rose, and others who led the Oxford Movement in the next years. A rigid High Churchman who was strongly opposed both to Popery and to Dissent, he expounded what he conceived to be the Anglican doctrine of the Church (roughly the so-called branch theory) in his Treatise on the Church of Christ (2 vols., 1838) with learning and lucidity. When the Oxford Movement became less anti-Roman in its ideals, W. Palmer gave public expression to his misgivings in his Narrative of Events connected with the Publication of Tracts for the Times (1843). In 1846 he issued a reply to J. H. Newman's Development of Christian Doctrine in his Doctrine of Development. In the same year he became vicar of Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset. The Jesuit theologian, G. Perrone, described him as ‘theologorum Oxoniensium facile princeps’.
From The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church in Oxford Reference.