John Palmer, 4th Earl of Selborne

John Roundell Palmer, 4th Earl of Selborne, GBE, DL, FRS (born 24 March 1940), is a British peer, ecological expert and businessman. He is one of the hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, sitting as a Conservative. He re-designated as non-affiliated in September 2019.

The Earl of Selborne

Official portrait of The Earl of Selborne crop 2.jpg
President of the Royal Geographical Society
In office
Preceded byThe Earl Jellicoe
Succeeded bySir Ronald Cooke
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
23 December 1971
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byThe 3rd Earl of Selborne
Personal details
Born (1940-03-12) 12 March 1940 (age 79)
Political partyIndependent
Other political
Conservative (until 2019)
Spouse(s)Lady Selborne, née Joanna van Antwerp James
RelationsRoundell Palmer, 3rd Earl of Selborne, grandfather, politician, administrator and intelligence officer
Children3 sons and 1 daughter
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

Background and educationEdit

The son of Captain William Palmer, Viscount Wolmer, in turn son of Roundell Palmer, 3rd Earl of Selborne, and the Honourable Grace Ridley, Lord Selborne succeeded to his grandfather's titles in 1971:[1] this was because his own father was killed in 1942 during a training exercise while serving with the Hampshire Regiment.[2] He was educated first at St. Ronan's School, Hawkhurst, and at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1961, proceeding to complete a Master of Arts.


Lord Selborne was Treasurer of King Edward's School, Witley between 1972–83, and a member of the Apple and Pear Development Council between 1969–73. He was chairman of the Hops Marketing Board from 1978–82, of the Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC) from 1982–89 and of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) from 1991–97. He was also a member of the NEDC Food Sector Group in 1991–92 and a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 1993 to 1998. From 1994–95, he was director of Lloyds Bank and its successor Lloyds TSB Group between 1995 and 2004.[citation needed]

Selborne was President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England from 1987–88, of the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene from 1991 to 1997 and of the Royal Geographical Society from 1997–2000. From 1996–2006 he was the Chancellor of the University of Southampton and between 2003–09 he was chairman of the trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. In 1989 he was Master of the Worshipful Company of Mercers. In 1991, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is also a Fellow of the Linnean Society, Vice-Patron of the Royal Entomological Society, and Patron of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

Selborne was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1987 and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to science.[3][4]


Since 1969, he has been married to Joanna van Antwerp James (Countess of Selborne, Lady Selborne).

The couple have four children:

  • Lady Emily Palmer,
  • William Palmer, Viscount Wolmer,
  • Hon. George Palmer,
  • Hon. Luke Palmer.

The family live near Selborne, Hampshire.


  1. ^ 'Earl Of Selborne' The Times (London, England), Monday, September 6, 1971, Issue 58269, p.16.
  2. ^ 'Lord Wolmer Killed' The Times (London, England), Monday, October 5, 1942, Issue 49358, p.2.
  3. ^ "No. 59647". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2010. p. 6.
  4. ^ Archived 2012-09-17 at the Wayback Machine New Years Honours List 2011. Retrieved 2013-07-12

External linksEdit

The Earl of Selborne John Palmer speaking at the funeral of Harry Dodson, television presenter of The Victorian Kitchen Garden series

Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Roundell Palmer
Earl of Selborne