Henry Norris, 1st Baron Norreys
Henry Norris, aged 50, 1585
|Mother||Mary Fiennes, Lady Norris|
|Died||27 June 1601
|Buried||5 August 1601
Chapel of St Michael and All Angels, Rycote
|Occupation||English politician and diplomat|
He was the son of Sir Henry Norreys (d.1536), who was beheaded for his supposed adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn, by his wife Mary Fiennes (c.1495-1531), daughter of Thomas Fiennes, 8th Baron Dacre (1472-1534).
The early years of Henry's life are obscure. His mother had died in 1531, and his father was beheaded in 1536, leaving him and his younger sister Mary orphans. The children were brought up by their childless uncle, Sir John Norreys. Henry's patrimony was restored to him by an Act of 1539 by King Henry VIII, and in December 1542 his uncle Sir John Norreys of Yattendon, was licensed to settle his estates in reversion on Henry, who was his ward, and on Margery, the younger daughter of John Williams, 1st Baron Williams of Thame, and their heirs. The couple must therefore have been betrothed by this date.
Henry's prospects were bright. He was made a Knight of the Shire for Berkshire in 1547. His wife, Margery, was the coheir of her wealthy father, who had become treasurer of the court of augmentations and who was continuing to acquire land in Berkshire. The deaths of Henry's uncle (1563) and father-in-law (1559) greatly increased Henry's already considerable wealth, bringing him properties in Oxfordshire, where he and his wife settled, and in Berkshire. These included Rycote, Sydenham and Yattendon Castle.
In 1553, Henry was among the King's gentlemen who witnessed the device settling the crown upon Lady Jane Grey. After the succession crisis, Queen Mary did not hold this act against him, approving his appointment as butler of Poole later in that same year. In 1554 he was assigned to guard Princess Elizabeth at Woodstock. Elizabeth believed his father had died for his loyalty to her mother, Queen Anne, and brought him and his wife into her trusted circle, where he would stay for the remainder of his life.
In November 1565, on the occasion of the third marriage of Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, another member of Elizabeth's trusted circle, Henry participated in a tournament in the Queen's presence.
Elizabeth visited the couple at their estate Rycote, Oxfordshire, on numerous occasions; in September 1566 on her return from Oxford, during which she knighted Henry; in 1568, 1570, 1572, and in September 1592, on another journey from Oxford. Upon the death of their son, Sir John Norreys, who was a distinguished soldier in Elizabeth's armies, the queen sent a stately letter of condolence to "my own dear crow", as the Queen still affectionately called Margery.
In 1561, Norris was made High Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. In the autumn of 1566, he was appointed Ambassador to France by the queen. He was recalled in August 1570 and replaced by Sir Francis Walsingham. By way of recompense for his services abroad, he was summoned to the House of Lords, as Baron Norreys of Rycote, on 8 May 1572.
Marriage and issue
Henry married Margery (or Margaret), (1521 – December 1599), daughter of John Williams, 1st Baron Williams of Thame, sometime between December 1542 and 26 August 1544. They were the parents of seven children. His six sons all distinguished themselves as soldiers.
- Sir John Norreys (1547 – 3 July 1597)
- Sir William Norreys (1548-27 December 1579 Ireland)
- Sir Edward Norreys (c. 1550 – October 1603 Englefield), Governor of Ostend in 1590.
- Catherine Norreys (c. 1553 – ), married Sir Anthony Paulet, Governor of the Isle of Jersey about 1583 in Rycote, Oxfordshire.
- Sir Henry Norreys (1554 – 1599), fought in the Netherlands and then in Ireland, where he died.
- Sir Thomas Norreys (1556 – 1599), Lord President of Munster
- Maximilian Norreys (c. 1557 – September 1593), killed in Brittany while serving under his brother, John.
Death and burial
Henry died on 27 June 1601, having outlived his wife and five of his children, and was temporarily buried, on 21 May, in the church at Englefield, where his son Edward was living. Finally, on 5 August, he was re-interred at Rycote, in a vault beneath the chapel of St Michael and All Angels, in the grounds of Rycote House. His will was dated 24 September 1589.
Both he and his wife are commemorated by the monument erected in honour of them and their six sons in St. Andrew's Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Life-size effigies of Lord and Lady Norreys lie beneath an elaborate canopy supported by marble pillars and they are surrounded by kneeling figures of their children.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney (1895). "Norris, Henry (1525?-1601)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 41. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 122–124.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Norris, Henry Norris". Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 756.
- Fuidge, N. M. (1981). "Norris, Sir Henry I (c.1525-1601), of Rycote, Oxon. and Bray, Berks.". In Hasler, P. W. Members. The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1558–1603. Historyofparliamentonline.org. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Lee, Sidney (1895). "Norris, Henry (1525?-1601)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 41. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 122–124.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Michael's Chapel, Rycote.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rycote House.|
- Sir Henry Norreys (1525–1601) A biography
- Henry Norris, Lord Norris Family tree
- Sir Henry Norreys Find A Grave
|High Sheriff of Berkshire and Oxfordshire
|Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire and Oxfordshire
With: Sir Francis Knollys 1586–1596
Sir William Knollys 1596–1601
Sir William Knollys
|Peerage of England|
|New creation||Baron Norreys