Between East and West : the Anglican career of William Palmer of Magdalen, 1811-1849
Deacon William Palmer of Magdalen was unique among those connected with the Oxford Movement in that he travelled to Russia seeking communion from the-Russian Orthodox Church, on the basis that the Church of England could rightly claim to be part of the one Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church. Derided by the expatriate English in Russia as an 'ass', a Madman', and 'a strange enthusiast’, he was nonetheless highly respected by the Russians themselves as 'an excellent defender of a bad cause.' Rejecting with incredulity his representations on behalf of the Church of England, the Russians urged him instead to accept Orthodoxy without qualification or question. This thesis charts Palmer's increasing disillusionment with Anglicanism, and his desperate search for some part of it that would affirm his understanding of the Church of England as a truly catholic institution, albeit corrupted by Protestantism. It recounts the opposition he faced from his ovra family, and in particular his clergyman father, whose initial support gave way to alarm and dismay over his son's actions, particularly as they revealed an increasing orientation towards Rome. It describes the hostility he faced from the highest authorities of the Church of England, who paid lip-service to the idea of unity with the Churches of the East, but m practice took every opportunity to court the Protestant churches of Europe. It tells the story of Palmer's rejection by the Episcopal Church of Scotland. It also considers why after years of discussion with the hierarchies of the Orthodox Church in Russia and Greece, and complete intellectual acceptance of Eastern doctrine. Palmer nevertheless became a Roman Catholic, and how his conversion to Catholicism cost him his career and drove him to exile in Rome.