Parmer, Martin (1778–1850)

By: Joe E. Ericson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 7, 2018

Martin Parmer, legislator, judge, and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, on June 4, 1778. After first moving to Kentucky, in 1798 Parmer settled in Dickson County, Tennessee, where he became superintendent of the Montgomery Bell iron works. About 1816 he moved to Missouri, where in 1820 he was elected to a two-year term in the Missouri General Assembly (1820–21). While serving in this office Parmer was named as a delegate to the Missouri Constitutional Convention of 1821. Three years later he represented Clay County for a term in the Missouri State Senate (1824–25). Partly as a result of his military service in the War of 1812, he was chosen colonel of the Missouri militia, where, after 1821, he led four military companies against the Indians.

In 1825 Parmer went briefly to Arkansas and then to Texas, where he settled near Mound Prairie (now in Cherokee County). The next year he joined Haden Edwards and fought for Benjamin Edwards in the Fredonian Rebellion. On November 25, 1826, Parmer presided over the court-martial that tried and convicted Samuel Norris, the alcalde of Nacogdoches, and his attorney, José Antonio Sepulveda. When the rebellion collapsed in defeat, Parmer fled first to Gonzales and then later to Louisiana. He attempted to return to Texas in 1831 but was expelled by Mexican authorities. After being pardoned in 1835 he returned to East Texas in time to be elected as a delegate from Tenaha (now Shelby County) to the Consultation of 1835. The same year he was elected to the General Council. The following year San Augustine County selected Parmer as one of its delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1836. At Washington-on-the-Brazos he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and was assigned to the committee to draft the new constitution. In 1839 President Mirabeau B. Lamar appointed Parmer chief justice of Jasper County. He held this post for less than a year.

Parmer married Sarah Hardwick about 1798 in Kentucky. They had ten children. Sarah Parmer died in Texas in 1826. In later years her ten children spelled their surname "Palmer." About 1827 Parmer married Margaret Griffin Neal; they had one daughter. About 1830 Parmer married Louisa Lout, who had at least six children by a previous marriage. They had one son. Finally, about 1839 Parmer married Zina Kelley; they had five children. Parmer died on March 2, 1850, in Jasper County and was buried twelve miles southeast of Jasper on the A. C. Parmer survey. Later his body was moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. Parmer County, established on August 21, 1876, was named in his honor.

Joe E. Ericson, Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836–1846): A Biographical Directory (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Mary Smith Fay, War of 1812 Veterans in Texas (New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1979). Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones, 1944; rpt. 1959). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joe E. Ericson, “Parmer, Martin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 7, 2018